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January 03, 2007

Farewell Mr. President.

Armed Forces body bearers carry the casket of President Gerald R. Ford past President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush, Presidents George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and many others at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 2007. DoD personnel are helping to honor Ford, the 38th president of the United States, who passed away on Dec. 26th. Following the funeral service at the cathedral, Ford's remains will be flown to Michigan for burial. DoD photo by Senior Airman Daniel R. DeCook, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

[sound of smashing shot glass]

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Jan 03, 2007 | TrackBack (0)

December 30, 2006

Another soldier joins the crowd at Fiddler's Green.

A loss among the readers here at Castle Argghhh!...

Armorer Donovan,

Wednesday, December 20, former Staff Sergeant George Brown, Cannon Company, 422 Infantry Regiment, 106th Inf. Div., passed from this vale. You know their story as you featured highlights of it last week.

If you have access to a 105, would you fire off a round for an old cannon cocker? He had his rifle salute and a real bugler but I would dearly have loved to touch off a round. If not, just raise a cup of kindness.

Thank you for the Castle. To you and yours, I wish a Happy New Year.

SC 256443 - Sheltered by a camouflage net, GIs of the Cannon Company, 9th Infantry, 2d Infantry Division, fire their howitzer on Brest. A German garrison has held out there for four weeks against the Allied attack. Piles of shell cases are in the foreground. 1944 (Photo courtesy US Army Center for Military History

SC 256443 - Sheltered by a camouflage net, GIs of the Cannon Company, 9th Infantry, 2d Infantry Division, fire their howitzer on Brest. A German garrison has held out there for four weeks against the Allied attack. Piles of shell cases are in the foreground. 1944 (Photo courtesy US Army Center for Military History

A hi-res pic can be had here.

The soldiers of the 106th (Golden Lions) Infantry Division took it in the shorts during the Battle of the Bulge. A brand-new division, it had entered the lines for the first time 5 days before the Germans attacked.

They were smashed to flinders, the Division being virtually obliterated. But they went down fighting, every bit as hard as Prentiss went down at the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh. Like Prentiss, eventually surrendering, but buying the time Eisenhower and Montgomery needed, just as Prentiss bought Grant and Sherman the time they needed to rally the Union Army and finally beat the Southern troops back.

Field Marshall Montgomery of Alamein noted their courage:

The American soldiers of the... 106th Infantry Division stuck it out and put up a fine performance. By jove, they stuck it out, those chaps.

Staff Sergeant George Brown was a Golden Lion, and like lions they fought.

And this was his weapon.

A United States M3 Howitzer outside the Army Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. <br />
Date 5 October 2006 Photographer Max Smith (Photo courtesy of the photographer)

A United States M3 Howitzer outside the Army Museum in Honolulu, Hawaii. 5 October 2006 Photographer Max Smith (Photo courtesy of the photographer)

I don't have access to a shootable gun - but I will provide this sound of thunder.

[Update: I found this - a 21 gun salute to the Queen - but the guns are a more appropriate caliber...]

[sound of smashing shot glass]

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Cannon Companies were unique to the WWII Infantry Regiment structure. The Cannon Company of a regiment was first equipped with two halftrack-mounted 105mm howitzers and six halftrack-mounted 75mm howitzers. Later in the war these were replaced with 6 of the M3 105mm towed howitzer, a short-barreled 105 mm gun. Literally short-barreled - the gun was the standard 105mm howitzer barrel, cut-off at the bearing ring, mounted on the recoil mechanism of the Pack 75, and mounted on a lighter mount similar to the 57mm anti-tank gun carriage. Truly a hybrid. The Cannon Companies were an attempt to balance the need for flexible fires with the need to mass fires for maximum effect. The general proposition is that artillery is most effective when fires are massed and controlled centrally - but that comes at the cost of responsiveness. The cannon companies were the product US industrial strength. We could give our forces artillery firepower in amounts everybody but the Russians (who also believed in artillery as the Red God of War) would envy. We allowed the regiments 6 M3 howitzers, while the Division Artillery had 36 M2 105mm howitzers and 12 M1 155mm howitzers.

In my time, focused as we were on the massive Slavic horde, centralization and control were the order of the day, and the heavy divisions were organized with 54 (later 72) 155mm howitzers and 12 (later 18) 8inch howitzers. While each brigade (the equivalent of the WWII regiment) had a battalion of guns in direct support, it didn't actually own the guns and the battalion was used for other purposes when a brigade was in reserve. The Cannon Companies were organic to the Regiment they had complete control.

The exception to this during my day (because the tension still existed between mass and responsiveness) were the Cavalry units, which had organic batteries of self-propelled 155mm cannon. Those were the plum jobs to get as a company-grade Redleg in Europe - command of a "HowBat", or howitzer battery.

The wheel has come full circle, with a twist. In the modular force, the way the Army is reconfiguring itself, the artillery once again belongs to the brigade commander. The Division Artillery is a rump of it's former self, but, via it's digital comms, still acts as the agency of massing fires and long range planning. And because artillery ammunition is heavy, we're rapidly pushing ourselves to carrying almost nothing but precision munitions - which, as we all know, kill quicker, cleaner, and with less collateral damage.

Because, again, we're never going to face a horde again.

Well, at least not in the short term. And if we do, the Air Force will be the provider of massed fires, in all weather, 24/7.

So, guys like me are a dying breed, mammoths all!

It strikes me - that if the Fort does a 21-gun salute for President Ford, I should try to get there with the video camera.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 30, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 27, 2006

President Ford, Requiescat in pace.

President Ford - the first (and hopefully only) President essentially appointed to the job, never having won a nationwide election for office. And taking over in some tough circumstances, too.

Gerald R. Ford being sworn in as U.S. president, August 9, 1974.

Another one of those sailor Presidents who went to war...

Lieutenant Gerald Ford, USS Monterey, 1944

His was a caretaker Presidency, with it's ups and downs, and is, of course, marked by two big issues.

His pardon of Nixon (which I am of mixed feelings about) and he gave us President Carter.

Of course, the plus side to that is... he set it up for Reagan.

One thing for sure, from my perspective - he was no worse a President than Carter, and was one hell of a lot better Former President.

Regardless of how you get it, the job of the Presidency of the United States has got to be soul-wearying, especially in circumstances like that, with what was going on in the US and the world at the time.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 27, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 25, 2006

December 25, 2006

Christmas is not my favorite holiday. I actually prefer Thanksgiving, it being the holiday that has been best left alone, so to speak.

The post below is rather bleak. It sets the stage for this one.

Joe brought Iola's armored New Testament home - from Bastogne.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

The Arsenal's one Battle of the Bulge artifact, and the item in the holdings that I like best. I'd sell or give away every firearm in the Arsenal before I would give up this New Testament.

Merry Christmas, everybody - even if I'm usually a grinch today... 8^)

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 25, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 24, 2006

Christmas Comes to Arlington, Too...

I'm sure this has been posted elsewhere on the web -- and I don't mind one bit if I get deluged with comments telling me where you've seen it. It's just too good a story *not* to keep in the light at this time of the year.

Back in 1992, Merrill Worcester discovered he'd accidentally ordered several hundred too many wreaths (he owns Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, ME -- shameless, gratuitous plug -- buy a wreath from him if you're in that neck of the woods). He thought they were too pretty to just throw away, so he loaded them on his truck with the idea of donating them to a service organization. He fired up his truck and started down the road, looking for a representative of a worthy organization.

He wound up outside the gate at Arlington.

He'd found his worthy representatives.

In 1993, he didn't overorder, but he *did* specify that his supplier make up an extra 5,000 wreaths and deliver them to Arlington. He's done it every year since then and -- every year -- a bunch of school kids from Harrington help him place the wreaths.

Arlington has more than 5,000 graves, so, every year, Merrill coordinates with the site caretakers and, every year, the graves in two different sections receive the warmth of a wreath.

Except for this site.

The Unknowns are warmed every year...

Green boughs for the living memory and red bows for the lifeblood stilled. Rest easy, Brothers -- the Line holds...

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by CW4BillT on Dec 24, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

An Armed Forces Christmas, 2006

First up - we honor those who give up Christmas...

Senior Airman Matt Hodges is assigned to the 52nd Operation Support Squadron at Spanghdahlem Air Base, Germany. He volunteered to serve through the season on Christmas Day so that his fellow air traffic controllers can enjoy some holiday fun with their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Szu-Moy Ruiz)

Senior Airman Matt Hodges is assigned to the 52nd Operation Support Squadron at Spanghdahlem Air Base, Germany. He volunteered to serve through the season on Christmas Day so that his fellow air traffic controllers can enjoy some holiday fun with their families. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Szu-Moy Ruiz)

Holiday spirit Photo by Sgt. Sarah Scully December 22, 2006 <br />
Soldiers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait receive donated holiday presents.
Holiday spirit Photo by Sgt. Sarah Scully December 22, 2006
Soldiers at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait receive donated holiday presents.

Holiday spirit Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzanne Day December 22, 2006 A paratrooper with the U.S. Army Golden Knights conducts a jump dressed as Santa Clause during the 9th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop at Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 16, 2006. Soldiers donate a toy in exchange for a chance to make a non-tactical parachute jump with German or Australian jumpmasters. Since its inception, the operation has collected and distributed more than 20,000 toys for families of Soldiers and for local orphanages.

Holiday spirit Photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Suzanne Day December 22, 2006
A paratrooper with the U.S. Army Golden Knights conducts a jump dressed as Santa Clause during the 9th Annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop at Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 16, 2006. Soldiers donate a toy in exchange for a chance to make a non-tactical parachute jump with German or Australian jumpmasters. Since its inception, the operation has collected and distributed more than 20,000 toys for families of Soldiers and for local orphanages.

Holiday lights shine from the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) moored at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 20, 2006. Russell and other ships moored in Pearl Harbor will participate in the 2006 holiday light competition.   DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class James E. Foehl, U.S. Navy. (Released)

Holiday lights shine from the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG 59) moored at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 20, 2006. Russell and other ships moored in Pearl Harbor will participate in the 2006 holiday light competition. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class James E. Foehl, U.S. Navy. (Released)

061206-N-0490C-003 Arabian Sea (Dec. 6, 2006) - Clockwise, U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Kevin Harper, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Anchel Klein, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Nicole Singletary, and Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Christine Anderson decorate a Christmas tree aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Eisenhower is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Miguel Angel Contreras (RELEASED)

061206-N-0490C-003 Arabian Sea (Dec. 6, 2006) - Clockwise, U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Kevin Harper, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Anchel Klein, Information Systems Technician 2nd Class Nicole Singletary, and Ship’s Serviceman 3rd Class Christine Anderson decorate a Christmas tree aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Eisenhower is currently deployed in the Arabian Sea in support of maritime security operations. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Miguel Angel Contreras (RELEASED)

ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- Mrs. Claus (Staff Sgt. Melissa Farrell) tosses a bag of candy to an Airman who promised Santa (Lt. Col. Richard Houghton), he was good this year. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Care Bear singers (carolers in truck behind Santa's sleigh) toured the base spreading cheer, Ho Ho Ho's and some sweet treats Christmas Eve to all servicemembers deployed here. Sergeant Farrell is in the 407th Expeditionary Services Squadron and Col. Houghton is in the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Dean)

ALI BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- Mrs. Claus (Staff Sgt. Melissa Farrell) tosses a bag of candy to an Airman who promised Santa (Lt. Col. Richard Houghton), he was good this year. Santa, Mrs. Claus and the Care Bear singers (carolers in truck behind Santa's sleigh) toured the base spreading cheer, Ho Ho Ho's and some sweet treats Christmas Eve to all servicemembers deployed here. Sergeant Farrell is in the 407th Expeditionary Services Squadron and Col. Houghton is in the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Dean)

Two-year-old William Figueroa holds up a piece of candy thrown out by Marines on a float in the Camp Kinser Christmas Parade Dec. 8.Photo by: Lance Cpl. David Rogers Photo ID: 2006121824535 Submitting Unit: MCB Camp Butler<br />
Photo Date:12/08/2006

Two-year-old William Figueroa holds up a piece of candy thrown out by Marines on a float in the Camp Kinser Christmas Parade Dec. 8. Photo by: Lance Cpl. David Rogers Photo ID: 2006121824535 Submitting Unit: MCB Camp Butler
Photo Date:12/08/2006

CHICAGO, Ill. (Dec. 5, 2003)--Coast Guard Mackinaw crew members carry christmas trees off the deck for delivery. Mackinaw came to Chicago with a load of Christmas trees for local families who would otherwise go without a tree this year. More than 1,000 trees were distributed with the help of the Salvation Army and Chicago's Christmas Ship Committee. USCG photo by PA1 Paul Roszkowski

CHICAGO, Ill. (Dec. 5, 2003)--Coast Guard Mackinaw crew members carry christmas trees off the deck for delivery. Mackinaw came to Chicago with a load of Christmas trees for local families who would otherwise go without a tree this year. More than 1,000 trees were distributed with the help of the Salvation Army and Chicago's Christmas Ship Committee. USCG photo by PA1 Paul Roszkowski

[I'm thinking the Coast Guard is getting their crew pretty young these days...]

Lastly, for all your Santa-Tracking needs this year... NORAD is your on-stop shop. C'mon, who needs the local weather guy? Just click the graphic and you'll be there.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 24, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 23, 2006

Michigan couple sends holiday cheer to Iraq

Photo by Spc. Nathan J. Hoskins<br />
December 22, 2006 <br />
Sgt. Rosie Threatt and Staff Sgt. Jamile Dingle decorate one of the two Fraser firs donated by Jim and Beth Nickelson of Ludington, Mich.

Dec 22, 2006 BY Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs

TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, Dec. 22, 2006) - Though a white Christmas is out of the question, the holiday season will be a little homier for Soldiers deployed here thanks to a couple from Ludington, Mich., and a sergeant major from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade.

Jim Nickelson and wife, Beth, sent two Fraser fir trees to the 1st ACB to bring holiday cheer to the frontlines, Nickelson said.

"Hopefully it brightens their mood for a period of time while they're away from their families" Nickelson wrote in an email from his home.

The Nickelsons' Needlefast Evergreens farm is adjacent to the childhood home of Sgt. Maj. Della St. Louis, the brigade operations sergeant major.

St. Louis, for the third consecutive year, arranged for the shipment of the holiday trees the Nickelsons donated. The first was during the 1st ACB deployment from 2004 to 2005, and she had trees sent to 3rd Infantry Division which served in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, she said.

"Soldiers are so far away from friends and families, and this is something that brings togetherness around the holidays," St. Louis said. "It's just something that I can do for Soldiers."

The Nickelsons pay for the customs inspection and donate the trees, and St. Louis pays the shipping costs.

The two packages were Christmas in a box when they arrived in late November. Within a couple of days, the trees were up and decorated at the administrative/logistics and tactical operations centers.

"When they opened the boxes, the smell of pine took me home," said Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Hernandez, assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of the Aviation Defense Operations Center. "When I'm home for Christmas, we have a live tree, and we decorate all that we can. It's all about the Christmas spirit."

"I didn't serve in the Armed Forces myself, and my wife and I feel it's the very least we can do to provide a small slice of home, or perhaps some of the Christmas spirit that they might have had if they had been home," Nickelson said.

Meanwhile, over in Korea...

Getting in the Holiday Spirit<br />
Photo by Master Sgt. Sue Harper, 8th Army PAO<br />
December 13, 2006 </p>

<p>8th Army Commander, Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt places a package into a bin as Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, USFK, CFC and 8th Army Command Sergeant Major takes package to another bin Monday morning at the Yongsan Post Office. Every year the 8th Army Commander and Command Sergeant Major and members of the 8th Army staff help pitch mail during the Holiday Peak season.

Getting in the Holiday Spirit
Photo by Master Sgt. Sue Harper, 8th Army PAO
December 13, 2006

8th Army Commander, Lt. Gen. David P. Valcourt places a package into a bin as Command Sgt. Maj. Barry C. Wheeler, USFK, CFC and 8th Army Command Sergeant Major takes package to another bin Monday morning at the Yongsan Post Office. Every year the 8th Army Commander and Command Sergeant Major and members of the 8th Army staff help pitch mail during the Holiday Peak season.

Heh. I knew Dave when he was a mere battalion commander and put his pants on one leg at a time. Looky where a little skill will take ya!

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 23, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 20, 2006

A community helping one of our own.

There's pain in the milblog family this year. From many sources, some of it just the Imp of the Perverse at work - Heinlein's Practical Joke Department (well staffed, runs 24/7).

Here's a chance to take on the role of the Fairy Godmother Department (staff of one, semi-retired, usually on vacation, has job as an additional duty).

From my email, comes this.

Life's been tough for a Marine Corps family lately, including the loss of a dear family member. Every year for the past three years they have lost a loved one between Thanksgiving and Christmas. This family has been an active support group for Marines for years - inviting troops into their home, participating in Operation Santa and other troop support projects, etc. Many of you who regularly read military blogs and discussion forums are familiar with this family.

We want to protect their privacy, but it's not right that such good people who have given so much to our country should not be feeling the joy and love of the Christmas season. So let's show this family the Christmas spirit! Please send them a Christmas card.

Mail your cards or notes to:

970 W Valley Parkway #223
Escondido, CA 92025

Cards are being handled by well-respected figures in milblog circles who will get them to this family as soon as possible.

Open your heart, and share the love of this Holiday Season with a family that has done so much for all of us!

Act as your heart and current situation guides you. I know the family involved and it's just been a suck coupla years in many ways, and they soldier on.

So, think of it as an Anysoldier thing - except this is likely someone you know and have read...

Matty O'Blackfive and I are teaming up on this one, along with those who prefer to remain anonymous.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 20, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 17, 2006

Simply the *best* comment ever posted at Castle Argghhh.

I'm prejudiced, I admit, having been the child in this comment when it was my family's turn to do this during Vietnam. Homefront Six left this comment on my Whattaya Want For Christmas post. I know if we were in Hawaii today, we'd be helping put up Christmas decorations.

I would like a better answer to my daughter's comment that she misses her daddy besides "me too, baby. Me too." *sigh*

A winning lottery ticket would be nice. I'm not greedy - 5 zeros would be acceptable. A fast forward button on life? That would be kind of nice. Just to get us to July-ish.

I'd like to not be a single parent for a little while. I'd like to sleep the sleep that you sleep when you're not the ONLY adult in the house, responsible for the health, welfare, and spiritual guidance of 2 children who depend on you wholeheartedly. I'd like to have someone to sit with on the couch at the end of the day and just BE with. I'd like to have someone here to help me put up Christmas decorations.

Honestly, though, I do not want for much. My family is safe (relatively speaking) and healthy (well, physically at least!). We have a good church family here and good friends throughout the world that love us and pray for us like we love them and pray for them. We have a roof over our heads, food on the table, and the freedom to do as we please. That pretty much covers it.

Though snow would be nice ;~) Gosh, I miss snow!!!

Mele Kalikimaka!

I will say this - HFS is doing this better than we did when Dad went to Vietnam. We were isolated with little to no contact with the military community, a decision that in retrospect probably made things harder. No one around us had any idea of what it was like, and some were covertly hostile, though none had the courage to be open.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 15, 2006

Thanksgiving in the Wilderness

Heidi's Thanksgiving, 2006. Via Heidi's Mom.

Thanksgiving 2006 - Afghanistan

Click the picture for a larger version.

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by John on Dec 15, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 13, 2006

Someone you should know.

Arvil Stanley.

He was assigned to the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, A Co. in Virginia. He saw combat on Savo Island, of the British Solomons;Tasimboko, Guadalcanal; but it was at Battle of Bairoko Harbor, New Georgia that he would be wounded in 1943.

His real name? Grandpa.

Bloodspite's Grandpa.

Cronaím thú my grandfather. I miss you.

I didn't know him, but through Bloodspite's post, I miss him too.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 13, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 11, 2006

Rush Limbaugh's Cat.

Ah, Rush and pets.

From Radio Equalizer:


Even His Cat Generates Controversy

In the twisted world of partisan politics, how could Rush Limbaugh's cat manage to become an issue?

The answer is that when it comes to dehumanizing a key conservative enemy, nothing is sacred in this stage of the game.

I used to listen to Limbaugh a lot, 10 years ago. Then I got tired of the "Long Time Listener, First Time Caller, and I gotta say, Mega-Mega-Mega-Dittoes on [fill in the blank issue] geez yer a genius Rush!" callers, and listened only to his monologues that started the hour, and then, I just drifted away. Nothing against Rush.

One of the things I was always piqued by was when he discussed animals. Rush clearly believes that only people have souls, thoughts, feelings, etc, of any sophistication whatsoever (and many animal behaviorists will agree with that assessment) and his discussion of pets followed that line. Such as this description of his relationship with his cat:

I told the story about the cat. I'll try to recreate the story. I love my cat. I got the greatest little cat in the world. You people know it. I pet this cat. I love this cat. I feed this cat. But I'm smart enough to know she only really wants me when she wants to be fed. I have learned enough to know that when she comes and starts head butting me or walking around my legs, she wants to be fed.

Every time I hear (or read) Rush discussing pets, I understand why he thinks like he does. He treats 'em like objects, and, on a fundamental level, doesn't really respect them (as treacly and new-agey as *that* sounds!).

The Interior Guard of Argghhh!, when they want to get fed, get vocal, and underfoot. It's clear when they want to be fed. But I get the head-butting, leg-rubbing and other behaviors Rush describes... *after* they've been fed. And at random times during the day. And the cats come to hang out. They watch tv with us (Barney *really* watches TV, especially anything with animals on it - I'd love to know what's going on in her mind at those times).

My point is - we treat the critters as family, not as objects. And they respond to that. In ways that clearly are not related solely to food.

More starkly is how that manifests itself with the horses. Our horses come when we call. Whether there's food involved or not (they come *much* quicker when they know there's food involved, you betcha!). But they come on their own volition. Our horses, in a horsey way, like us. Yes, we trained them to that. I got that. But you watch how many hard-core horse people treat their horses, and watch how their horses behave. Then watch our horses. Our horses want to be around us. They want to go riding. They want the head scritches, etc. And it isn't just us - our boys are the barn sluts. Everybody comments on how nice they are, and how different our horses are than others in the barn - including theirs, as they jerk on the reins and bully their horse around.

This is getting longer than I intended. My point being - not to pile on Rush, but to use Limbaugh's words to illustrate my point - that if you treat your critters like family (and that, like children means discipline and training... all larded with love and affection) they'll *want* to hang around you, and not just because you feed 'em.

That's all.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 11, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 05, 2006

A little spirit of the season.

There's giving, and then there's... giving. What I give, I really don't miss. Not in any real causing-of-pain way. I don't know (or care) how much was given here, but I'm impressed that anything was given at all. On many levels. Good on yaz, Trias. However much our donation was appreciated, yours outscores us in karma.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 05, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

December 02, 2006

Andi sends for Carrie: Operation Santa

Seriously wounded Soldiers arriving at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are loaded aboard an ambulance bus and escorted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center by members of LRMC’s Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center. Photo by Heike Hasenauer March 20, 2006

Seriously wounded Soldiers arriving at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, are loaded aboard an ambulance bus and escorted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center by members of LRMC’s Deployed Warrior Medical Management Center. Photo by Heike Hasenauer March 20, 2006

First Andi:

Christmas For Our Wounded Heroes Last Christmas my husband was deployed, so I decided to spend Christmas Day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I left the hospital more blessed than when I had entered.

The father of one of our wounded troops told me that he saw exactly what he wanted to see on Christmas Day in Ward 57 -- the ward where many of our most critically wounded reside -- people arriving with their arms loaded with goodies for our troops. The wife of one of the soldiers told me that it didn't matter that they were spending their Christmas in a hospital, "our family is together".

Many milbloggers are familiar with Carrie Costantini, the wife of a Marine and a frequent commenter on milblog sites. I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Carrie over breakfast last week. Carrie and Deb worked on Operation Santa last year. This year, Carrie had the brilliant idea to expand the project out to include wounded troops at Walter Reed and Bethesda.

From Carrie:

Just typing the word brings back memories of happiness, of warm cookies, of trees decorated with colored lights and glass ornaments, of grandmom's Chanel No. 5 scented hugs, and of festively wrapped presents. My favorite part of Christmas was seeing what Santa had put in my stocking.

That word also brings memories. Memories of rubbing alcohol, bright lights, kind nurses and especially, of missing home. I was born without hip joints and spent quite a bit of my earliest years at Walter Reed. I can remember being in the cast room there alongside wounded soldiers from Vietnam. (Yes, I'm that old).

I'm sure you're all wondering why I am writing about two words that seem mutually exclusive. They're not, at least not to the wounded Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen who will be at Walter Reed and Bethesda this Christmas. There will be servicemembers in those hospitals on Dec. 25th. That is a sad truth.

I know that they'd rather be back with their units in Iraq or Afghanistan AND at home with their loved ones but they can't be either place. They must be there to heal.

I am pleased to announce the newest Operation Santa venture: Operation Santa/Bethesda and Walter Reed. It will work mostly the same was as the other Operation Santas. We want to bring them a stuffed stocking and a little bit of home. Candy canes, cookies, crackers, ornaments, cards, books, dvds, cd's, batteries, new socks.

You can help us do this. You can send some Christmas cheer to a wounded servicemember at Bethesda or Walter Reed. You can donate money, you can donate gift cards from Sam's, Walmart, Target, etc. You can donate material goods. You can make a difference in a servicemember's holiday away from home.

The question is: Will you do it?

If you have any questions or comments, please email me or Andi.

We're looking to stuff and deliver hundreds of stockings to our wounded troops. Any donation, no matter how small, will help.

We have a modest goal of only $3,000. I think, with your help, we can raise that in no time at all

You can make a tax-deductible donation here (use the pink Operation Santa button). Please be sure to note that your donation is for Operation Santa/Bethesda and Walter Reed, otherwise your donation will go to the general fund for Operation Santa.

Donations by mail can be sent to:

Marine Corps Family Foundation
Operation Santa - Bethesda & Walter Reed
4000 Lancaster Drive- Suite 57 Salem, OR 97309

Thanks in advance for your help. It's hard to describe the joy these troops feel when strangers work to ensure that their Christmas is as good as it can possibly be.

Now me: If one tenth of our average visitor count donates $5, a pittance for most of us, that's $850, 1/4 of the goal, from this website alone. $5. Make me proud, eh?

To get you started:

Marine Corps Family Foundation Receipt -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ship To: John Donovan XXXXXXXXXXXX Leavenworth, KS 66048 United States Seller Information: Marine Corps Family Foundation

Transaction ID: 1SM555XXXXXXXXXXX Placed on Dec. 2, 2006
Payment For Quantity Price
Marine Corps Family Foundation 1 $25.00 USD
Subtotal: $25.00 USD
Shipping & Handling: $0.00 USD
Sales Tax: $0.00 USD

Total Amount: $25.00 USD

For a certain member of the readership whom I know is in a financial pinch at the moment - that last $5 is me covering your instincts, 'k?

A pittance, people.

That is all.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, enjoys a visit with wounded warrior Staff Sgt. Nathan Reed July 13 shortly after having hip replacement surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center. Photo by Nelia Schrum July 20, 2006.

Maj. Gen. Patrick Brady, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, enjoys a visit with wounded warrior Staff Sgt. Nathan Reed July 13 shortly after having hip replacement surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center. Photo by Nelia Schrum July 20, 2006

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Dec 02, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2006

The War Comes Home to Fort Leavenworth.

This post will be up top all day. New stuff comes in below.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 1171-06 November 17, 2006


DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Nov. 14 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle during combat operations.

Killed were:

Col. Thomas H. Felts Sr., 45, of Sandston, Va. He was assigned to the Command and General Staff College, School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

Spc. Justin R. Garcia, 26, of Elmhurst, N.Y. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

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Flags on Fort Leavenworth will be flown at half-staff on Friday, 17 November in honor of Colonel Thomas H. Felts, who was killed in Iraq on 14 November. COL Felts was assigned to Fort Leavenworth in the School of Advanced Military Studies. He had been in Iraq since January 2006 and was attached to 1-6 MITT, 2nd BCT, 1st Infantry Division. There will be a Memorial Service Friday, 17 November from 1100 to 1200 hours in the Main Post Chapel. COL Felts' family welcomes the Fort Leavenworth community, a reception will follow.



The family of Thomas H. Felts, Colonel, United States Army, would like to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to the many friends and loved ones who have shown so much support to them in their time of loss.

Colonel Felts dedicated his life to the service of God, family and country. He made a huge difference in the lives of all those he touched. He demonstrated that conviction by volunteering for the post in Iraq. He knew the dangers of being in harm's way. Yet, he remained committed to securing the future of our own children by defeating forces of hatred and violence and showing people what is possible if they embrace tolerance and peace. He laid down his life as he lived it, in the name of Love.

Colonel Felts' funeral and burial will be in Virginia. Please refrain from contacting the Fort Leavenworth residence and in lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Army Emergency Relief in order to help Soldiers and their family members.

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Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Update: Raven 04's comment deserves to be up here.

I'd like to personally thank the family of COL Felts for their strength and you, Sir, for your guidance and mentoring on this difficult battlefield. Your sacrifice is great, and difficult for all of those whose lives you touched to bear. We shall never forget you, your dedication to this mission, your excellent sense of humor and friendly laughter. I was the driver of the vehicle behind COL Felts' vehicle that night and am the team's Logistics Advisor. We just held a memorial for him here, in Iraq, and miss him dearly. COL Felts mentored us professionally and personally, treating us like his own family since day one, when we started training at Fort Hood back in January. We miss you, Sir, but know that to truly honor you we must redouble our efforts to complete this mission in your vision, 'Git-R-Done', and ensure the safe return home of the rest of the team you so diligently built and sustained.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 17, 2006 | TrackBack (0)

November 11, 2006

Veteran's Day, 2006.

Today we celebrate the living. The survivors. We honor the dead in May. Except today we honor the dead, too. We can't help it. The bonds of combat soldiery are tightest because of those who went with us but didn't come back, they took the low road while we took the high. Most of us have an "absent companion" or four that we drink to, when the time is right. Today it will be right. I have 14 17 that I will drink to. 14 17 little shots of tequila. Actually, I won't do it tonight when I get home, either. I spread 'em out between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. My father doesn't even try. If he toasted all his ghosts, his liver would rip itself out of his belly and run. I have friends who will be making a trip to a military funeral this weekend (for #16, LTC Paul Finken).

I honor my two favorite veterans: SWWBO, and my Father. I honor my two favorite people who sweated out what their veterans were off doing: Mom and my sister.

I honor the veterans of my family, stretching back in America's wars to one of Roger's Rangers, even the ones who fought on the wrong side of the Civil War.

I will be in the Leavenworth Veteran's Day Parade today. The theme is Supporting America. I'll be on the Rotary Club float - with the Castle Vickers, made up as it is of British, Australian, and Canadian parts - and I'll be wearing the Aussie slouch hat given me by an Australian soldier I served with - because our theme is Rotary Honors All the Veterans, foreign and domestic, who have, in one way or another, Supported America.

So, as it's Remembrance Day elsewhere in the world - there's this Canadian song: Remember.

At 11:00AM, the parade will stop where it stands, Taps will be played, and we will observe two minutes of silence.

Take two minutes... it's a pittance of time.

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We have bonds, we veterans. Bonds that sometimes our closest family don't understand. Why does Grampa Joe keep bailing that wino out of trouble? Because that wino lost two fingers tossing a grenade out of a two-man fighting position during the a vicious night fight on Guadalcanal, that's why. Because that stranger that Dad greets like a long lost brother once a year is, in fact, a long lost brother, who shared the exhilaration of the night combat drop on Point Salines. Because the quiet guy you've never seen before extracted your Dad's best friend's body from a helicopter crash in Mogadishu by cutting off his legs - so that no man would be left behind. Because that guy over there negotiated with Aideed to get the legs back.

Because that woman sitting at the table comforted many of your grandfather's friends as they lay dying, the last thing they ever saw, or heard. Because that janitor in your school spent a long night on LZ X-Ray, cut off from his unit, keeping his squadmates alive. Because that Bank President looking at ties over there drove an AMTRAC across the reef at Tarawa under a withering fire so your uncle wouldn't have to slog in on foot, fighting both the sea and the Japanese. That man in Lions with your great-uncle? Your uncle helped him walk out from the Frozen Chosin.

Because that man serving turkey at the shelter helped Uncle Bob deal with Esther's "Dear John" letter, that arrived right before "Big Push." And him, that guy playing with his grandkids, who always seems to have some candy for you... well, he's a Glow-worm, a fighter pilot who jumped from a burning aircraft after he lost that dogfight with the Bf-109, and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp - and survived the forced marches to the west, as the germans were falling back from the onslaught of the Red Army. His buddy? The wingman whose 'six' was being covered. We are also a maudlin, sentimental group. We honor ALL of our veterans. Especially the ones who didn't really volunteer, but would and did give their lives freely for their brothers in arms, too.

We have the bond of shared experiences, whether it's Basic, Jump School, the JRTC, Graf, Pahakuloa, Camp Red Cloud, Hof, Okinawa, Tay Ninh, Vung Tau, Suwon, Phenix City, El Paso, Biloxi, the convoys across the Atlantic, storming over a beach, busting bunkers, hunkering under artillery, rescuing families caught in the middle, finding that cask of cognac and... and the list goes on and on and on. And your newest veterans - they will have their traumas, too.

I am proud of my place among you, you men and women who simply did their duty. Who didn't run. Who came when asked. I am among giants. But my thoughts will be with the newest wave of veterans.

by Spc. Nathan Hoskins</p>

<p>November 8, 2006</p>

<p>Pvt. Michelle Young, Pvt. Zachary Smith and Spc. Courtney Brenton from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, beautify Dining Facility 1 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Paintings like this one are found throughout the camp. This photo appeared on

by Spc. Nathan Hoskins November 8, 2006
Pvt. Michelle Young, Pvt. Zachary Smith and Spc. Courtney Brenton from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, beautify Dining Facility 1 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. Paintings like this one are found throughout the camp. This photo appeared on

The Republic is well served. Well served indeed. And as long as we find men and women willing to do the hard, dirty work - there will be a Republic.

We have not fought most of our wars this last hundred years alone. And other nations, other armies, with whom we have much in common also honor the living and remember their dead. I have a significant Canadian readership. So, I honor our Canadian and Commonwealth brothers, who shed blood with us in Afghanistan, and sadly, a good chunk of it was shed by us... so it's only fitting.

Usually around Christmas you see the poems about the American soldier and his sacrifices. The Canadians have one too.

Who Is He

He is profane and irreverent, living as he does in a world full of capriciousness, frustration and disillusionment. He is perhaps the best-educated of his kind in history, but will rarely accord respect on the basis of mere degrees or titles.

He speaks his own dialect, often incomprehensible to the layman. He can be cold, cruel, even brutal and is frequently insensitive. Killing is his profession and he strives very hard to become even more skilled at it.

His model is the grey, muddy, hard-eyed slayer who took the untakeable at Vimy Ridge, endured the unendurable in the Scheldt and held the unholdable at Kapyong.

He is a superlative practical diplomat; his efforts have brought peace to countless countries around the world. He is capable of astonishing acts of kindness, warmth and generosity. He will give you his last sip of water on a parched day and his last food to a hungry child; he will give his very life for the society he loves. Danger and horror are his familiars and his sense of humour is accordingly sardonic. What the unknowing take as callousness is his defence against the unimaginable; he whistles through a career filled with graveyards.

His ethos is one of self-sacrifice and duty. He is sinfully proud of himself, of his unit and of his countryand he is unique in that his commitment to his society is Total. No other trade or profession dreams of demanding such of its members
and none could successfully try.

He loves his family dearly, sees them all too rarely and as often as not loses them to the demands of his profession. Loneliness is the price he accepts for the privilege of serving. He accounts discomfort as routine and the search for personal gain as beneath him; he has neither understanding of nor patience
for those motivated by self-interest, politics or money.

His loyalty can be absolute, but it must be purchased. Paradoxically, the only coin accepted for that payment is also loyalty. He devours life with big bites, knowing that each bite might be his last and his manners suffer thereby. He would rather die regretting the things he did than the ones he dared not try. He earns a good wage by most standards and, given the demands on him, is woefully underpaid.

He can be arrogant, thoughtless and conceited, but will spend himself, sacrifice everything for total strangers in places he cannot even pronounce. He considers political correctness a podium for self-righteous fools, but will die fighting for the rights of anyone he respects or pities.

He is a philosopher and a drudge, an assassin and a philanthropist, a servant and a leader, a disputer and a mediator, a Nobel Laureate peacekeeper and the Queen's Hitman, a brawler and a healer, best friend and worst enemy. He is a rock, a goat, a fool, a sage, a drunk, a provider, a cynic and a romantic dreamer. Above it all, he is a hero for our time.

You, pale stranger, sleep well at night only because he exists for you, the citizen who has never met him, has perhaps never thought of him and may even despise him. He is both your child and your guardian. His devotion to you is unwavering.

He is a Canadian Soldier.

Hell, he's any soldier of a true democracy. And he too is one of my brothers-in-arms.

A worthy cartoon. H/t, Barb of Righty in a Lefty State.
H/t to CAPT H for the Canadian input. A nod to Sheldon P (1 PPCLI) and Jim Cope (USA, ret'd) for the link to Remember.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 11, 2006 | TrackBack (1)
» The AnarchAngel links with: A Pittance of Time

November 10, 2006

From the White House.

Another Medal of Honor. This time to a Marine. This post will stay on top all day, new stuff comes in below.

President Bush Dedicates The National Museum Of The Marine Corps And Announces He Will Award Corporal Jason Dunham The Medal Of Honor

Today, At The Dedication Of The National Museum Of The Marine Corps, President Bush Announced He Will Award The Medal Of Honor (Posthumous) To Corporal Jason Dunham.

On April 14, 2004, Corporal Dunham Heroically Saved The Lives Of Two Of His Fellow Marines By Jumping On A Grenade During An Ambush In The Town Of Karabilah . When a nearby Marine convoy was ambushed, Corporal Dunham led his squad to the site of the attack, where he and his men stopped a convoy of cars trying to make an escape. As he moved to search one of the vehicles, an insurgent jumped out and grabbed the corporal by the throat. The corporal engaged the enemy in hand-to-hand combat. At one point, he shouted to his fellow Marines, "No. No. No. Watch his hand." Moments later, an enemy grenade rolled out and Corporal Dunham jumped on the grenade to protect his fellow Marines, using his helmet and body to absorb the blast. Corporal Dunham succumbed to his wounds on April 22, 2004.

Today Would Have Been Corporal Dunham's 25th Birthday. Corporal Dunham was a native of Scio , New York.

The Medal Of Honor Is America's Highest Decoration For Valor. The Medal of Honor, established by Joint Resolution of Congress, is awarded in the name of Congress to a person who, while a member of the Armed Forces, distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. Corporal Dunham's family will be presented the medal at an upcoming ceremony at the White House.

Since Taking Office, President Bush Has Awarded Six Medals Of Honor. Three were for Vietnam , one was for World War II, one was for Korea , and one was for Iraq .

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

A good way to honor Corporal Dunham would be donating to Project Valour-IT.

Reporting As Ordered, Sir! »

by John on Nov 10, 2006
» Stop The ACLU links with: Friday Free For All
» America's North Shore Journal links with: Jason Dunham - Medal of Honor
» Random Thoughts Of Yet Another Military Member links with: In Honor Of Veterans Day Tomorrow

November 02, 2006

Someone you should know.

Oregon Army National Guard’s Sgt. Nathaniel “Brad” Lindsey

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Sgt. Lindsey and his convoy were attacked when Taliban fighters set up a false checkpoint in Afghanistan on Sept. 9, 2006. The enemies hit the convoy with either a roadside bomb or a rocket-propelled grenade, and then opened up small-arms fire on the vehicles. Lindsey, a gunner who had recently switched from a desk job at a secure base in Kandahar to a job training Afghan soldiers, died in the attack. He had volunteered for deployment to Afghanistan after having already served in Iraq and during Hurricane Katrina to protect an officer he had driven for since June 2004. Lindsey was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medals on Sept. 22, 2006

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Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Nov 02, 2006

October 27, 2006

Corporal Unger's Funeral, coda.

The day started with the Castle flag at half-staff (yes, done correctly, raised, then lowered, just as it will be raised, then lowered this evening).

It's a dark, grey, rainy morning, with a mist on the hills, and the waters of the lakes steel-grey. There's a rising, bitter wind out of the northwest, as the storm front that brought the rain passes through.

At 0930, people start to congregate along Grant Avenue. Military, civilians, Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy. Officers of foreign militaries here for school. Veterans and those who never served - or perhaps have served as civilians. Mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins.

VFW and Legion hats and jackets. All quietly talking amongst themselves, the chat broken here and there by laughter.

One gentleman in front of me explains that his little flag waved over the graves of 4 of the Band of Brothers at the Normandy Cemetery. Corporal Unger has a strong tie to warriors past and present.

The group of CGSC students I'm standing amongst are telling war stories, bitching about silly seniors, really ragging on bosses who did stupid things during their times in the sandbox. And, of course, gripe about CGSC, as students have done at Fort Leavenworth for decades.

Combat patches abound. Many of the people lining the road brought their flags... on their sleeves.

The crowd starts to fill in, as more people make the trek from their offices across the installation. There's no parking nearby, everybody standing along Grant has walked there. Some short distances, like people from the TRADOC Analysis Center, some longer, such as those from the National Simulation Center and Battle Command Training Program.

The crowd is large enough, people start filling in across the street, on the side where the old interurban trolley once ran.

The Garrison Commander's note said... 0930. It's getting on to 0950 and that wind is really whipping in from the north. The students, most of whom really aren't dressed for the weather, start to look a bit chilly - and are getting more animated in order to generate some warmth. Thankfully, it's not raining - but, near as I can tell, even though things are running late and it's cold... the crowd just gets bigger.

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Finally - the "trigger" for my personal "Target Area of Interest" gets pulled - the MP car positioned at the intersection by Hoge Barracks and the Buffalo Soldier Monument blips his lights and closes cross-traffic at the intersection - the indicator that the cortege has arrived on post.

People notice, and start to sort themselves out along the road, the clumps breaking up in anticipation. The warriors, old and new, stand a little taller, faces get "the look." If you've even seen warriors at funerals, well, you know "the look."

Another MP car, lights flashing, crests the hill. Corporal Unger is coming home to rest. What little traffic is left on Grant pulls over, and several drivers get out of their vehicles.

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Preceded by MPs and the cyclists of the Patriot Guard, Corporal Unger's hearse rolls by slowly, as hands young and fit, old and gnarled, snap to foreheads as the colors and the hearse pass. Colors dip in a wave as the cortege passes. Not a word is spoken.

I'm doing fine until the car after the hearse passes by, and I see Laura Unger, looking as lost and devastated as can be. There must have been some rain falling at that point, I guess.

The cars keep coming and coming. I've seen many funerals at Fort Leavenworth - but none this well attended. People in the cars are looking out at us... I guess it was raining in their cars, too.

The cortege went past for minutes, ending with another large group of Patriot Guard riders.

As the rumble of motorcycle engines fades up the road, the crowd disperses. Most of them are going back to their tasks which support the war, and many of them will go back to the war, sooner or later - but all of them took the time to brave the elements to give a small town 'Murica salute to a fallen warrior.


It's now about 1PM, and the committal service is over, the volleys fired. I came home so I could post this.

And in a sign of hope, the sun is breaking through the clouds.

Life goes on, and goes forward. Faster for some of us than others.

But the hope embodied in the sun, the belief in a better tomorrow and the hope for a more peaceful future is what Corporal David Unger fell trying to give to the Iraqis, us, and his children.

The torch is passed.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Day is done.
Gone the sun
From the lake, from the hill, from the sky.

All is well.
Sleep tonight.
God is nigh.

by John on Oct 27, 2006
» Not Exactly Rocket Science links with: An honorable tribute
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Dreary day
» MilBlogs links with: Leavenworth Buries a son.
» MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy links with: Honor and Respect Them
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: On Fiddler’s Green- CPL David M. Unger

Corporal Unger's Funeral.

This will be up top until after the funeral today.

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David came home with a motorcycle escort from the Patriot Guard.

Subject: Funeral for CPL David Unger

CPL David Unger, a Leavenworth Soldier, was killed in action October 17, 2006 in Iraq near Baghdad. We join with his family in mourning his loss.

Visitation will be at the Leavenworth High School from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM today (Thursday). The high school is located at 2012 10th Avenue, Leavenworth. Friends may call from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the Beldon-Sexton-Sumpter Funeral Chapel.

The funeral services will be held at the Fort Leavenworth Main Post Chapel with burial following at the Ft Leavenworth National Cemetery. The funeral will begin at 10:00 AM.

Due to parking limitations at the Fort Chapel the Provost Marshall has requested attendees consolidate transportation. Parking is available in downtown Leavenworth at 4th and Cherokee Streets. Be there at 8:30 AM to join the funeral procession going to Ft Leavenworth. The procession will not have to stop at the gate. Otherwise, try to use vehicles with a Post Decal to expedite entry into the fort. Once on the fort you are welcome to join with the Patriot Guard Avenue of Flags or the Avenue of Hats outside the Chapel.

The Patriot Guard will have an Avenue of Flags on 10th Avenue today.

The Reverend Fred Phelps from Topeka is planning his usual fiasco to disrupt the services. He will not be allowed on the school grounds and will be prevented from entering Ft Leavenworth. He will be restricted to the sidewalks at the school. The Patriot Guard will ensure he does not disrupt the services at the high school.

From the Garrison Commander today:


“Corporal David Unger, a Leavenworth native, gave the ultimate sacrifice last week when he lost his life in Iraq as a result of an IED explosion. His funeral will be Friday morning at 1000 at the Fort Leavenworth Main Post Chapel.

The Fort Leavenworth community, to include military, civilians and family members, is invited to pay tribute to Corporal Unger as his funeral procession proceeds from the Main Gate, up Grant Avenue and left on Pope Avenue to the chapel. If you would like to participate in this tribute, please bring in your American flag and join the Fort Leavenworth community in lining up on Grant Avenue at 0930 as Corporal Unger's procession passes by.

The Armorer will act as your representative as the cortege passes by the lakes, flag and all.

If you're in the area - feel free to come and join us. (Seriously - I've got a post-decaled vehicle and a place to park - I'll be happy to bring two or three people with me if you are interested.)

Update: Corporal Unger was in the same graduating class as our son Andy. They held the wake at the high school this afternoon, which is across the street from Castle Argghhh! As referenced above, the Patriot Guard was present to do their usual job of screening Phelp's Whelps from the grieving family. I'm proud to say that no one on our block would allow the Demon-spawn from Topeka to stand on their private property, which ended up pushing the weasel-begotten well south. Apologies rendered to weasels, who are just true to their nature. SWWBO, standing in for the Denizens, took up a Patriot Guard flag and stood watch as the wake progressed. Many friends and acquaintances were present, as were most of the High Folk of the community. This is small town 'Murica, honoring one of it's own. I, sadly, was being a dutiful corporate drone doing war work. I will do my bit tomorrow.

Then, I will join what I expect will be the throng on the Fort, as Corporal Unger goes to stand his Last Post.

by John on Oct 27, 2006
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Dreary day

October 20, 2006

The war comes home to Leavenworth.

This post will remain on top through the day.

A member of my son's 2003 graduating class at Leavenworth High School was killed this week in Iraq. While not the region's first casualty, he is the first one to hit this close.

Leavenworth soldier killed in Iraq By RACHAEL BOSSOW, Times Staff Writer Published: Thursday, October 19, 2006 1:43 PM CDT

David Unger would have been 22 years old on Halloween. Instead, the U.S. Army specialist and father was killed in Iraq earlier this week.

Thought of as a comedian and a role model, Unger called his mother, Diana Pitts, last Thursday to reassure her that he would be coming home.

“Mom, I’m the one in the bunch that keeps everyone’s spirit up. Everyone relies on me to be the clown, so I have to make sure I’m there for them,” Unger reportedly told family members.

“That is who David was,” said Caitlin Sullivan, Unger’s cousin. “You couldn’t help but love his humor and sincere kindness toward others.”

While news of Unger’s death spread throughout Leavenworth on Wednesday by a network of friends and family members, the U.S. Department of Defense did not release the names of 10 American troops that were killed on Tuesday. According to the Associated Press, nine soldiers and one Marine were killed by roadside bombs and enemy fire.

Three of the soldiers killed were attached to Task Force Lightning, assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division of Fort Hood, Texas. Unger, a 2003 graduate of Leavenworth High School, was deployed in December 2005. He was scheduled to return from Iraq in two months.

For those with an interest who haven't seen it yet - here is a link to the Leavenworth Times article (from which the above was taken).

The Master and Mistress of Argghhh! extend our condolences to Corporal Unger's family and friends.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

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Update: The official release is out:

DoD Identifies Army Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Oct. 18 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle. The soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

Killed were:

2nd Lt. Christopher E. Loudon, 23, of Brockport, Pa.

Cpl. David M. Unger, 21, of Leavenworth, Kan.

Cpl. Russell G. Culbertson III, 22, of Amity, Pa.

Spc. Joseph C. Dumas Jr., 25, of New Orleans.

For further information related to this release the media can contact the Fort Hood public affairs office at (254) 287-9993.

Update II. More from the Leavenworth Times.

Corporal Unger will be buried at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery. For those locals wishing to attend the funeral, I'll post those details when they're set.

by John on Oct 20, 2006

October 13, 2006

Someone you should know.

Father, Husband, Kansas National Guardsman. Like Staff Sergeant Parrish, several posts below this one, killed in Iraq doing his duty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you Specialist John Edward Wood.

Specialist John Wood, Kansas Army National Guard, KIA Iraq, Oct 7, 2006


No. 06-107


Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the adjutant general, announces that Spc. John Edward Wood, a member of Detachment 1, Headquarters Support Company, 891st Engineer Battalion, Kansas National Guard, Garnett, was killed in action in Iraq on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2006. Wood was attached to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 110th Engineer Battalion, Missouri National Guard, Kansas City, Mo.

Wood, 37, a resident of Humboldt, Kan., died as a result of an improvised explosive device (IED) which struck the convoy in which he was traveling. Also killed in the same attack was Sgt. Lawrence Lee Roy Parrish, Lebanon, Mo., a Missouri Army National Guard soldier who was a member of the 110th Engineer Battalion.

"My heart goes out to the family and friends of these brave Guardsmen,” said Governor Kathleen Sebelius. “They have each made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country and will not be forgotten.”

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these two fine soldiers. Their service to their states and the nation will always be remembered and honored," said Bunting.

Wood enlisted into the Kansas Army National Guard in October 1988 with Company D, 891st Engineer Combat Battalion, at Fort Scott, Kan., as a Construction Equipment Repairer (62B10). He completed Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., as a Technical Engineer (62B10). He completed Primary Leadership Development Course and was a Combat Life Saver. In September 2004 he mobilized to deploy with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 891st Engineer Combat Battalion, Iola, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and in December 2005 he chose to extend with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 110th Engineer Combat Battalion.

For his deployed service, Wood was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Action Badge.

He had 18 years military service and his other awards included the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kansas National Guard Homeland Defense Service Ribbon and Kansas National Guard Service Ribbon.

Wood is survived by his wife, Lannette, and four children; Kimberly, Wayne, Dannielle and Lila.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Oct 13, 2006

Someone you should know.

Husband, father, Missouri National Guardsman. Killed in Iraq doing his duty.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you Staff Sergeant Lawrence Lee Roy Parrish.

Staff Sergeant Lawrence Lee Roy Parrish

Missouri Guard Soldier killed in Iraq Missouri Army National Guard Sgt. Lawrence Lee Roy Parrish, of Lebanon, died of injuries suffered when he encountered an Improvised Explosive Device on Oct. 7 in Iraq. Parrish, posthumously promoted to staff sergeant, was a member of the 110th Engineer Battalion, headquartered in Kansas City.

Also killed in the same attack was Spc. John Edward Wood, Humboldt, Kan., a Kansas Army National Guard member who was attached to the 110th Engineer Battalion in Iraq.

“Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these two Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. King Sidwell, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.

Parrish, 36, has been mobilized since August 2005, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. His unit went overseas in November 2005 and has been providing convoy security and working to remove improvised explosive devices along the Iraqi roadways.

Parrish first joined the Missouri Army National Guard in 1988 with the 1139th Military Police Company, in Harrisonville. He later joined the U.S. Army and served in Bosnia from March through October 1999; served in Qatar, Kuwait from December 2001 to January 2002; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from July 2003 through January 2004.

In the 110th, he was assigned to Support Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, supporting the battalion’s route clearance companies in their mission to keep the highways clear of Improvised Explosive Devices.

Parrish is a graduate of the Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, Primary Leader Development Course, and the Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course.

Parrish reenlisted this past February, at the Ziggurat in the ancient city of Ur, believed to be the birthplace of Abraham.

For his deployed service, Parrish was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Badge and Missouri Expeditionary Medal.

He has 12 years military service and his awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, two Army Good Conduct Medals, two National Defense Service Medals, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, two Overseas Service Ribbons, and the Army Forces Reserve Medal with the M Device.

Parrish is survived by his wife, Sarah, and five children; Katheryn, Constance, Jacqueline, Hayden and Gracelynn.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Oct 13, 2006
» Mensa Barbie Welcomes You links with: Tribute: PO2 (SEAL) Michael Monsoor

October 10, 2006

Not all Moms are Cindy Sheehan.

...but you knew that!

Supporters rally for troops 2nd annual event started with a Hoosier Marine's plea to his mother back home By James A. Gillaspy In 2005, Lance Cpl. Scott Huse, Pendleton, contacted his mom from Iraq about a woman who was protesting the war after her son's death in action.

The other mom was Cindy Sheehan, whose efforts to confront President Bush and criticize the war in Iraq had attracted a growing audience of supporters across the nation.

"He said, 'We've seen the war protests. Does nobody back home support us anymore?' " Connie Huse recalled Sunday.

Their exchange was the beginning of a grass-roots effort by Huse and some other Marines' moms in Central Indiana to publicly recognize the troops' selfless duty, regardless of their mission.

The 2nd Annual Support Our Troops Rally was held Sunday at the Indiana World War Memorial, where Huse and other moms joined other veterans' families in a salute to military service.

"This is a totally nonpolitical rally," said Anderson resident Vickie Widing, mother of Lance Cpl. Zachary Widing, who is bound for Iraq.

"We're just supporting our brothers and sisters and husbands and wives," she said. "It's an honor to be here."

Even the little people got involved...

Brownies show their support

A group of small girls attending the Support Our Troops Rally contributed in a big way. Members of Brownie Troop 1916 of Fishers were recognized for several acts of kindness over the past year. The girls made 50 Christmas cards for soldiers in Iraq, donated 200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, sent 50 Easter baskets and, in their latest show of support, disguised 200 Tootsie Roll Pop gifts as Halloween ghosts.

Read the whole story here. H/t, Mike D.

by John on Oct 10, 2006

October 06, 2006


Sigh. Such bravery.

Inside the Amish Schoolhouse.

I don't know what's apt for the Amish faith - but I do know, that here, at Castle Argghhh... is the time when we dance: In Memoriam.

If you don't have RealPLayer, click here for the MP3.

by John on Oct 06, 2006

September 24, 2006

Gold Star Mother's Day.

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Gold Star Mother's Day, 2006 A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America

Since America's founding, every generation has produced patriots willing to sacrifice for our great Nation. Many of these proud sons and daughters have given everything for our freedom, and America has mourned the loss of every life. On Gold Star Mother's Day, we pay special tribute to the mothers of those lost while defending our country and extending the blessings of liberty to others.

Gold Star Mothers have long borne the hardships of war with dignity and devotion. Through heartbreaking loss and unimaginable grief, they continue to support each other through difficult times, stand up for those wearing the uniform of the United States, and serve their communities in the best traditions of the American spirit. Their strength, compassion, and determination are an inspiration to all and a source of great pride for our Nation.

America lives in freedom because of the sacrifices of America's finest citizens and of the mothers who raised them. In the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, "There is nothing adequate which anyone in any place can say to those who are entitled to display the gold star in their windows." Each year, this observance is an opportunity to offer our solemn respect to Gold Star Mothers and renew our ongoing pledge that America will always remember those who died while wearing the uniform of the United States and forever honor their families' sacrifice.

The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 115 of June 23, 1936 (49 Stat. 1895 as amended), has designated the last Sunday in September as "Gold Star Mother's Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in its observance. On this day, we express our deep gratitude to our Nation's Gold Star Mothers, and we ask God's blessings on them and on their families.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Sunday, September 24, 2006, as Gold Star Mother's Day. I call upon all Government officials to display the flag of the United States over Government buildings on this solemn day. I also encourage the American people to display the flag and hold appropriate ceremonies as a public expression of our Nation's sympathy and respect for our Gold Star Mothers.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


American Gold Star Mothers.

by John on Sep 24, 2006

September 16, 2006

H&I* Fires 16 Sep 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...

World War II resistance fighter, iconoclast, intellectual provocateur and force of nature Oriana Fallaci succumbed to cancer yesterday. Lex rounds up an excellent eulogy of an extraordinary woman. - FbL


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by Denizens on Sep 16, 2006
» A Rose By Any Other Name links with: Unsung Heroes

September 11, 2006

9/11@5 years on - We Remember DIA Budget Analyst Karl W. Teepe

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The Armorer remembers... Karl W. Teepe.

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Karl was a good commanding officer and always treated the troops under him fairly.

I knew several victims of the attack on the Pentagon. The week before, I had briefed LTG Maude and some of his staff in that exact same conference room that General Maude and others died in on that dark Tuesday.

And below that room, a couple of floors down, worked another man who died, with whom I had a somewhat closer, longer relationship. DIA budget analyst and retired soldier Karl Teepe.

He was my ROTC instructor at Mizzou. Along with Captain Mac, and the Master Sergeants Rodriguez, he had a distinct imprint upon my development as a cadet, and therefore as an officer.

He was a Duck Hunter, meaning his branch was Air Defense Artillery.

He was funny, in a snarky way, but took his job seriously. He loved his family, his job, and he took personal interest in his cadets He always had a ready smile - unless you were screwing up by the numbers - in which case he was all business. He had a lot of energy, too - but it was expressed in a laid-back manner. I don't know what he was like at home, but with his cadidiots he always kept an observant, available, hands-free approach - meaning he'd let you fail, in order to learn. Not in the catastrophic be-the-only-cadet-to-get-a-D-on-a-test fail - but the spread your wings and learn from experience but-I'll-keep-you-from-doing-something-stupid kind of fail.

Like skylining yourself in a tactics problem, or siting the machinegun where it can take flanking fire but not defend itself kind of thing. That kind of learning. The school of hard knocks, gently applied.

And despite good reason - he was always even-tempered, a trait he did *not* manage to pass on to me.

He had an impish side. I won't say that he was *involved* when we painted the Navy ROTC anchor pink for Homecoming, or was there when we covered it with grease and grass clippings, so it was all green and hairy. No, I couldn't say that. But I could say that he was... well, aware that his cadets were, um, er, oh, never mind. Look, bright shiny object!

He touched other people as well, and I've included those tributes, to flesh out the pale presence of Karl I've added here.

For an officer, you can't ask for much better a tribute from the soldiers you commanded than this one:

Karl was a good commanding officer and always treated the troops under him fairly.

I could live with that as an epitaph.

From the website we find this:

Karl W. Teepe Attack Location: Pentagon Age: 57 Home: Centreville, Virginia

Karl Teepe would sometimes take the Metro from the Pentagon to the Mall on his lunch break. He'd sit in a sculpture garden, or one of the Smithsonian Institution galleries, just to let the beauty sink in.

It had been a beautiful year. His daughter Wendy, 28, got married. His son Adam, 22, graduated from college.

"I think we were the most important thing to him," said Adam.

The family wanted to find a photograph that seemed appropriate. His Army and Defense Intelligence Agency IDs wouldn't do. For those, he would always make the funniest face possible. They chose the one from Wendy's wedding -- the glowing father of the bride.

Karl W. Teepe, 57, was born in St. Louis. He worked as a budget analyst. At home in Centreville, he spent his time making his surroundings beautiful -- the yard, the deck, the house. He took classes on the human genome, the Civil War, painting.

"Every time I came home, he had some exhibit I had to see," Wendy said.

At Christmas, he told the stories during the family slide show, bringing alive years of memories.

Before his Pentagon office was struck, he and his wife, Donna, planned a night out to see Garrison Keillor.

"We still have the tickets," she said.

-- Michael Laris

From September 11 we get this:

Cpt. Karl Teepe was my commanding officer at Foxtrot Battery 2/44th A.D.A. in South Korea from 1971 to 1973.We happened to meet again at Kleber Kaserne, Kaiserslautern, W.Germany in 1979 and visited some about old times at Foxtrot Battery. Karl was a good commanding officer and always treated the troops under him fairly. I just recently learned that Karl was killed

From Newsday, there is this light shining on Karl:

Avid Gardener, Devoted Family Man As much as Karl W. Teepe was devoted to his career, those closest to him knew what was most important to the Defense Intelligence Agency budget analyst -— his family.

“He always came home as soon as he could,” said Donna Teepe, 56, his wife. “We have two children and we were his life. He was very interested in everything the kids did. Our daughter got married last November and we had a really, really nice wedding. He loved being the father of the bride.”

Teepe, who lived in Centreville, Va., was just 57 when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11. He was born and raised in St. Louis, graduated from University of Illinois in 1967 and received a master’s degree from University of Missouri in Columbia. He joined the Army after obtaining his bachelor’s degree and served for 20 years, doing tours in Germany and South Korea. He retired 12 years ago to work as a civilian in the Pentagon.

Donna Teepe, who had known her husband since the seventh grade in Meadows Elementary School, said he enjoyed gardening and working on home projects. “He was very handy,” she said. “He made shelves, he built the deck in the back and he always tended the yard, making sure it looked very nice. He even commented one time about how he treated our backyard as another room in the house. I’m going to miss that in the spring, I know it.”

The Teepes were married 34 years and began dating since their days together at Riverview Gardens High School. “He was very sure of himself and everybody liked him,” Donna Teepe said. “He had a very dry sense of humor that was always fun.”

Besides his wife, Teepe also is survived by his daughter Wendy Green, 28, of Denver; his son Adam, 22, of Centreville; his mother, Ruth, of St. Louis; and his brother, Ken, of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Photo By M. R. Patterson, 27 June 2003

Photo By M. R. Patterson, 27 June 2003

by John on Sep 11, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 09/11/2006

9/11@5 years on - We Remember Police Offcer Vincent Danz

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Denizen Larry K remembers: Police Officer Vincent Danz.

Police Officer Vincent Danz, Badge #2166, End of Watch: Tuesday, September 11, 2001

P.O. Vincent Danz Fallen at the World Trade Center September 11, 2001

If you were in trouble who would you call to help you? You would call 911 of course and the Police or Fire Department will come to help. On 9/11/2001 a great many police and firefighters needed help. So whom do they call when they need Help? In New York they call Special Operations Division for the Emergency Services Unit or ESU.

The NYPD is a little different than many other large city police departments. They have no SWAT teams. The Emergency Services Unit functions as SWAT and much more. If you have a hostage situation, an auto accident, a derailed subway car with people trapped, a collapsed building, then you call ESU. If you need to rappel down a building to rescue a trapped jumper or thrill seeker or perhaps people trapped in an elevator you call ESU. If you need someone to handle special weapons to secure a dangerous felon or special tools to capture a “pet” tiger kept in a housing project apartment you call ESU. If you have any situation that needs special training, special equipment, special weapons and most of all special people, you call ESU.

What kind of man would be attracted to join a unit like that? Where would a man like that be on September 11th? The answer is obvious and may explain why 14 of the 23 NYPD officers who lost their lives were from ESU. And one of those was Police Officer Vincent G. Danz.

Officer Danz wasn’t born into the ESU of course. He grew up in Southampton, New York as the youngest of 9 children. Perhaps the environment and demands of growing up the youngest in a large family made him desire a life of adventure and activity. His life was one of seeking out the next challenge, the next exploit, the next way to serve others. After high school he got started in life as a carpenter with the Dockworkers Union. For many that would be a challenging enough atmosphere, but it wasn’t enough for him so he joined the Marine Corps and served in the Reserves. He then had the opportunity to join the NYPD. For 8 years his beat was the very active environment of the New York City housing projects. After taking his share of bad guys off the streets, Vincent learned that the NYPD was forming a new elite unit called ESU. It sounded like something perfect for him and he became a member of EM3.

Vincent’s brother Greg would always ask him if he had gone on any “good” jobs lately. There would always be a story about this or that accident but then he would complain that he never seemed to be on duty for the “Big Jobs”. On that September morning Officer Danz was on duty for the biggest job ever. He was among the first to get to the towers and entered the WTC after the first airplane hit but before the second. What was he doing that day? It is estimated that Officer Danz and the other first responders saved perhaps 25,000 lives that day by assisting in their evacuation. But they didn’t get them all.

While Vincent’s body was doing its duty his thoughts were in another place thinking of his wife and three young daughters. Taking a brief moment he called his wife Angela but got only the answering machine. "Hon, it's 9:50 and I'm at the World Trade Center. I'm up in the building. Say a prayer that we get some of these people out. I'm OK but say a prayer for me. I love you." It was the last message the family heard. Pray we get these people out … oh, and pray for me too. He was posthumously awarded the New York City Police Department's Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts to save others.

Aside from being a member of an elite unit, Vincent Danz sought out other ways to serve his country. Police Officer Danz joined the United States Coast Guard Reserve drilling at CG Activities New York near the Verazanno Bridge on Staten Island, just across the harbor from the twin towers. He was a Petty Officer Second Class and served as a member of the Port Security Unit (PSU).

September 27th is known as Heroes Day in the Coast Guard and is the day when all Coast Guard heroes are remembered. The day was chosen in honor of Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro who was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 500 Marines that day in 1942 at Guadalcanal. It is appropriate that on September 27, 2002 in Munro Hall at Training Center Cape May, New Jersey a plaque and memorial were unveiled. A room used to train Reservists was dedicated in memory of Officer Danz and Firefighter Jeffrey Palazzo, another USCG Reservist lost at the Trade Center. Two more heroes to be remembered on Hero Day and every day.

Carpenter, Marine, Coastguardsman, and Police Officer; but that hardly sums up the life of Vincent Danz. More importantly he was a brother, a son, a husband to Angela, and a father to three daughters Winifred, Emily and Abigail. Vincent’s sacrifice is complete while theirs continues.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Police Officer Vincent G. Danz
New York City Police Department, New York
End of Watch: Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Age: 38
Tour of Duty: 14 years
Badge Number: 2166

And our flag was still there

by John on Sep 11, 2006

9/11@ 5 years on - We Remember

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Castle Philosophotrix Kat, who's having, well, let's just say life is interesting at the moment, sends this along:

Dear John,

(I've always wanted to type that just once)

I've stolen a few minutes on my cousin's computer in the early morning hours to write a note to you and my friends at the Castle. Would it be too much of an imposition to ask you to post this at the Castle? At your convenience of course, space and time permitting.

First, I miss everyone and hope they are all doing well. I really miss those introspective conversations, heated "discussions" and raucous commentary. I miss being a regular part of the community. I've also discovered what it's like to be part of the "other America", the one that doesn't have access to the information that I had when blogging on a regular basis; the one that knows little about the war and sacrifices even less on a daily basis. On one hand it's a strange relief. So often I spent hours looking at the information, trying to analyze, etc that I did not take time to do other things. One the other hand, I know as I watch the news and catch brief news articles or even participate with Soldiers Angels that I am missing a big chunk of information. I feel it like a hole in my thoughts and in my heart.

Having been part of the "military and support community" (all be it, the fringe element on the Internet) and now being part of the "other America", I know exactly why people feel so separated from it. The truth of the matter is, like that old song, the war is "over there". It's as if it is being conducted by another country in a place that doesn't effect us.

Sometimes, it's as if it is on a different planet. Watching the local news this past week, I've only seen war news once. Even the price of gas and the cost of living associated with it is barely recognizable as part of the "war". For the most part, people I talk to don't see it as part of the war. They see it in terms of profit made by oil companies, price gouging by big corporations and the inability or lack of desire by the government to provide safe guards for the working "poor" man. I won't waste space by explaining how wrong it is. I really just wanted to point out what it's like to be on this side of the divide. I don't mean those who "support the war" or those that don't. I mean, those who know something more about the war than 2 minute sound bites and those that don't.

It's an old argument really and I don't know why I bring it up except that I feel it more acutely while outside of our community at the Castle and on the war blogs. At least, while blogging, I had some idea that there were some people who cared enough to know, whether they were supporters or not. Out here, it's a little lonely.

The anniversary of September 11 is about to be upon us and, as is often the case, fate weaves it's mysterious threads. Without blogging to take up my spare time, I have taken up my old hobby of marathon reading just about any subject that takes my fancy (TV being what it is). The last two weeks I've read twelve books on forensic and behavioral science used to solve crimes. Six of these twelve books mentions the work done by these folks either at ground zero or in the "War on Terror". I didn't select these books for that reason. It is, as I mentioned, fate or coincidence. Either way, as the anniversary approaches, I was reminded once again that, for all the books, websites, movies and commentaries, we still cannot comprehend in any meaningful way, the cost, the sacrifice and the pain that was inflicted by those evil acts on that one day.

While we may remember the grand heroics of the officers, fire fighters and certain individuals, like Rick Rescorla, during the attacks, the bravery of the Flight 93 passengers or the determined efforts of rescue and iron workers in the days, weeks and months after, the difference between good and evil was made plain by the smallest among us and the least recognized.

It was made even more plain to me on Thursday, September 7, when the new video of bin Laden and the hi-jackers was released.

The difference between good and evil? Evil sat and planned how they could maim and destroy, drinking tea, recording their "last wills", saying good-bye and "good luck" to friends and compatriots. They cared not for the destruction and death they were about to inflict. They saw it as their duty and divine (can evil be divine?) responsibility. Good came after and, even in the face of such horror that it is still hard to describe even today, gave their lives, their physical and mental health to help the wounded, dying and dead; to provide succor, relief or simply the sense of "knowing" the fate of their family members to the survivors. Evil came on one day and it's fingers reached far and wide into our lives and very fabric of our society. Yet, the good still work today, volunteering their time, like the forensic scientists, who are still working on identifying some 4000 remains from the WTC.

I read a book by Emily Craig, a forensic anthropologists, Teasing Secrets From the Dead. I will not give details as to the processes of identifying the dead or her observations on days following 9/11 as they may still be too disturbing for some to read, but, I wanted to point out a brief example in the difference between Good and Evil, the true understanding of duty and divine responsibility by mentioning her part in 9/11. She was part of DMORT, a major disaster mortuary and forensics response team put together after the Oklahoma bombing. As part of the team, she would be tasked for two weeks to assist in the search and identification of remains at the site. Instead, she stayed for four weeks, went home for two weeks when her father died of cancer and then returned for another extended stay.

Even in the face of her own grief, she went back because, as she stated, she at least had seen her father, held him and had her time to say good-bye. That could not be said for many of the family members of this terrible crime. She saw this as her duty and, yes, even her divine responsibility.

Even in her own story is the story of others, those that she met and worked with who had the grim privilege of retrieving and identifying friends, family and co-workers. How they all had to become their own support network in their grief. There were the Red Cross workers who, two months later at 9pm on a cold and rainy Thanks Giving day, while most of us were home enjoying the warmth and company of friends and family, manned the relief and cantine tent, sitting around little heaters to stay warm waiting to serve the volunteers still at the site or working at the morgue to identify remains, warmed over turkey dinners as they straggled in between shifts and on dinner breaks.

In another book by Roger Depue, retired Chief of the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI, appropriately titled, "Between Good and Evil", the author explores his journey into the very depths of evil, tracing, finding and even interviewing "true evil" like Ted Bundy and other serial killers. He describes the effect of this work on his own ideas and conscience as well as those he worked with. He talks about how the effects of abuse and neglect on the young can lead the conditions that create a serial killer. Yet, he finds that, while you can trace the acts that created the condition, the final act of evil cannot be "understood" because, in the end, regardless of the reasons, it is the choice of the perpetrator to commit an act of evil. To know the reasons why, but deny the ability to choose between good and evil is to deny our very existence as beings with free will able to discern right and wrong. In the end, this is the very epitome of the differences between those who seem to "excuse" 9/11 on the grounds of past or present policy or acts of the United States and those who see it in it's starkest terms: Evil with no viable excuse for the act.

The difference between good and evil was made even more stark by the story about how even the youngest and smallest among us can know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil and decide to give something that none of the hi-jackers or their terrorist backers could really ever understand: the real gift of life and love.

A psychiatrist friend of Roger Depue had volunteered as one of the many counselors who went to help the victims and surviving family member of the September 11 tragedy. A young woman approached him because she did not know what to do. Her sister was a house keeper for the Marriott Hotel at WTC 7. She was a single mom and had taken her daughter to work with her early that morning because school did not start for a few more hours and she had no morning child care (or could not afford it). As we know, when the towers fell, WTC 7 was destroyed. The mother of the child was killed instantly, but the seven year old survived with critical (soon to be fatal) injuries.

As the sole surviving family member, the young woman who approached the counselor had been asked to give consent to harvest the little girl's organs when she died. The family was catholic and worse yet, the young woman felt, with the grief of losing her sister and the oncoming loss of her niece she could not make such a decision.

In the book, Roger continued the story:

"Alone in the world, she felt she had no one to turn to for advice. But she soon came to realize that there was in fact one option, albeit a very difficult one, available to her. She went to the pediatric intensive care unit, and, as gently as she could, explained the situation to her niece.

'So, would you like to do that, Maria?' the woman asked. 'Would you like another child to have your heart after you're gone?'

And the little girl, six hours before she died of her injuries, gave her reply.

'Yes,' she said. 'You can give them my heart.'"

As time passes, on the anniversary of 9/11, it may be harder to remember the specifics. The faces of the victims may fade and the tears of their families and friends fall in solitary silence. The feelings of solidarity and purpose as a nation may have passed. We may debate endlessly who was at fault and why or our actions since then. We will say "never forget", but it is not our anger that we should never forget, nor our sorrow. We should never forget that on that day, the greatest lesson of man's existence in this world as a being of free will was given: the difference between choosing good and choosing evil.

Thank you, John, for the time and (hopefully) the space. Tell everyone hello and I look forward to rejoining our community in the future.

God Bless the families, our troops and the United States of America.


by John on Sep 11, 2006
» Fuzzilicious Thinking links with: Remembering 9-11

September 04, 2006

If you've bandwidth in your prayers or positive karmic emanations...

...however you do the cosmic comms thing - spare some cycles for Leesha, SC Eagle, and their family.

Support a milblogger in a time of trial.

H/t, Andi, over at Milblogs.

by John on Sep 04, 2006

September 01, 2006

Glenn Ford, Captain, USNR (ret), RIP.

Here something I'm betting you didn't know.

Captain Glenn Ford, USNR

Canadian born American patriot and Hollywood great Glenn Ford passed away in his LA home.

Star of such films as "The Blackboard Jungle", "Gilda", "The Big Heat" and "Midway", he was also a bona fide gunslinger.

Ford joined the Marines in WWII for a two year hitch where he served at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, and he spent a year at the Marine barracks in Quantico, Va. Later he joined the Naval Reserve with the rank of lieutenant commander.

During the Vietnam War, Ford served periods of active duty with the 3rd Marine Amphibious Force. He was a briefing officer on new weapons and served under fire at Da Nang, Monkey Mountain, the Rock Pile, Chu Lai, Pleiku and Quang Tri. Ford also went on at least one mission with the Army's Special Forces... making him the only Hollywood actor to see combat with both the Marines and the SF.

Ford said of his service with the Marine Corps - “It made me grow up. I'll always be grateful to the Marines for making a man out of me.”

Hollywood sure could use more men like Captain Ford.


Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

H/t, Jim C.

by John on Sep 01, 2006
» MilBlogs links with: Someone you know - but probably didn't.
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Glenn Ford, American Hero, RIP

August 22, 2006

Deliberate Assault

Cassandra moves out...

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She may be wounded, but she's still dangerous.

by John on Aug 22, 2006

August 17, 2006

Dog Haiku

From the Adjutant, via email:

I love my master;
Thus I perfume myself with
This long-rotten squirrel.

I lie belly-up
In the sunshine, happier than
You ever will be

Today I sniffed
Many dog behinds-I celebrate
By kissing your face.

I sound the alarm!
Paper boy-come to kill us all-
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I sound the alarm!
Garbage man-come to kill us all-
Look! Look! Look! Look! Look!

I lift my leg and
Whiz on each bush. Hello, Spot-
Sniff this and weep

More to follow.

by John on Aug 17, 2006

August 11, 2006

Where's Ry?

Gollum is homeless.

First, no, Jess did not get fed up with me and toss me out on my keister. Okay, the funny is out of the way)

Yes, we've been homeless for the last 3 days. A fire struck our apt building and ravaged it severely enough it needs to be torn down.

Most importantly Jess is perfectly fine. I'm okay, just short sleep. Luckily, all our stuff is okay, if a bit smelly(most of it really isn't that bad). We just don't have a place to live until the management fix up another apt in the complex for us to move into---late Wed, maybe Thurs (oi, my achin' back. Guess who has to manhandle all the furniture solo?)..

The alcoholic arsehole who started the blaze died (sniff, tear, reverent pause with hands folded and head lowered.. Then gives the Finger.) Idjit actually slammed the door and locked it in the face of a neighbor who tried to save him, denying that there was a fire and claiming he was all right. You'd have been somewhat saddened. He was a gun collector. Quite a few firearms were blackened (thought I saw at least one WW1 era German bolt action rifle, no idea of authenticity, that was fire blackened) and a vintage looking saber. Enough stuff to overflow the trunk of a police cruiser. Rumor was he had a few de-milled grenades of various kinds. If you want to try and get something cheap as a fixer upper you might want to contact the Lafayette, Indiana Police Dept.

But we're fine. All our stuff is fine (if a bit smelly). Others were not so lucky. One very nice woman who is in the midst of putting her life back together, and struggling at it too, lost everything but her drivers license and the clothes on her back. Another kid who'd just graduated almost didn't make it out and everything he owned but a metal table on his porch, including quite a bit of historical research and antiques, were turned to ash and slag.

So, if anyone wants to get tight with Sky Boss a fiver to the local Salvation Army and Red Cross (who came in like gang busters) who are helping her immensely might look good in His eyes. We don't need it, but others do. Jess and I don't need anyone's prayers right now. But others definitely do.

I blame WereSib for talking about her fear of fires. I think Ol' Scratch's aim was off by about 400 miles or so.

We're fine. Really, we're fine. Be back ankle biting, annoying people, and stinkin' up the Castle in a few days. Just letting you know what's going on. And I'll get you some of the pictures I promised soon too.


I'm not saddened about some fire-damaged firearms and other artifacts. I'm saddened this individual's demons nominated him for the Darwin Award and displaced so many people.

One less Mauser in the world is insignificant. A World Without Gollum... well, that would be a gray place, and not just for Jess. We wouldn't want to see the dancing at the in-laws...

by John on Aug 11, 2006

August 05, 2006

I can only imagine.

Ry, I know, sometimes wonders, "Why?" when he ponders Things of Import.

Ry - this is why. In a general sense.

by John on Aug 05, 2006

July 22, 2006

Note to Em Hunter.

Ms. Hunter.

You searched in vain for evidence of your father's impact on the world?

"There was no evidence of his life work."

Heh. In most respects that is true for all of us. Very few, comparatively, are going to have a highly visible legacy. Which is okay - all that ego-driven striving gets tedious after a while. Take a look around West Virginia... can you drive for 20 minutes there and not know who the senior Senator is?

But let's get serious here.

You can't find evidence of your father's "Life work?"

What? Are there no mirrors in your home?

There are three things I try to be (though rarely achieve).

1. Be the person our dogs think I am.
2. Be a person my parents aren't ashamed of.
3. Be the husband and father SWWBO and Prodigal Son deserve (which is really simply a summation of 1&2).

Everything else is gravy.

by John on Jul 22, 2006

July 21, 2006

Another trip to Fiddler's Green.

Today I will attend the funeral of a "Career Completed" fellow Rotarian.

He's already at Fiddler's Green talking shop, no doubt.

Kenny L. Sculley
Ken L Sculley, 57 of Leavenworth died Monday, July 17, 2006 at Providence Medical Center in Kansas City, Ks. He was born November 14, 1948 in Ransom, Ks., the son of Bernard and Lavila (Donovan) Sculley.

He married Mary Kearney on June 23, 1979 in Leavenworth, she survives of the home. He is also survived by a son Troy (Angela) Sculley and two grandsons Kenneth and Jonathon Sculley. Other survivors are three sisters: Patricia (Les) Minks of St John, Ks., Joyce (Charles) Stegman of Klamath Falls, Or., Rosalie ”Jean” Stewart of Hutchinson, Ks., and a sister in law Shirley (Jim) Doris of Sterling, Co. Additional survivors are many nieces and nephews.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers.

He owned and operated Ken’s Garage for 25 years and was a hard working business owner. He was a member of the Leavenworth Rotary Club and a Board member of The Salvation Army. He was a proud veteran.

We'll miss ya, big guy. We already do.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Jul 21, 2006

This is where...

...your Project Valour-IT money goes.

Wounded warriors like Corporal Jonathan Benson, detailed there by our own Fuzzybear Lioness.

Corporal Johnathan Benson's injuries are even more serious than those that Joey Bozik has miraculously overcome. Cpl. Benson was wounded by an IED just over one month ago and is coping with a stunning level of physical trauma. He has lost his right foot, his left arm and left leg up into and including the left side of his pelvis, his left kidney and part of his intestines. Complications include failure of his remaining kidney.

However, he is now awake and communicative. He's scheduled to receive a Valour-IT laptop and the Soldiers' Angels Wounded Team is making him a special project. But he is not "out of the woods" yet and will need a vast amount of support, appreciation and encouragement as he copes with his new physical reality and tackles the recovery process.

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Just sayin'. All y'all have given a lot to Project Valour-IT, I just wanted you to know that there actually is a result to that.

And that the need continues.

by John on Jul 21, 2006

July 20, 2006

Simply amazing.


by John on Jul 20, 2006

July 10, 2006

Help a brother out, if you are in the area...

This post will remain up top all day. New content comes in below this post.


Family, Navy team up to find marrow donor
Navy SEAL from Spotswood was recently diagnosed with leukemia

SPOTSWOOD - A young man who fought for his country is now battling for his life.

And on July 15, local residents will have the opportunity to help him do just that.

Justin, whose last name is not being disclosed at the request of the U.S. Department of Defense, is a Navy SEAL and former Spotswood resident who was recently diagnosed with leukemia. The Navy is turning to Justin's hometown community to help him find a bone marrow stem cell donor who could save his life.

The whole article is here. If you're in the area and blog - get the word out. If you don't blog, spam your friends with the article. A very little effort on your part by going into the registry (I'm in the DoD Database mentioned, so I've *already* done my bit - and obviously can't help Justin) can make yoiu someone's angel of mercy.

H/t, Dr. Zubov of Banter in Atlanter.

by John on Jul 10, 2006

In local news...

America Honors its Fallen

Thank you, America. Thank you Saint Joseph, Missouri and White Cloud, Kansas, and all the towns and farms that lie between them. Thank you, Patriot Guard Riders. You made me proud.

On Saturday (8 July 2006), I attended the funeral of PFC Brian Bradbury in Saint Joseph. PFC Bradbury was a forward observer with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. He died in combat on 21 June.

Go visit the bloggin' Chaplain - and get the rest of the tale.

by John on Jul 10, 2006

July 04, 2006

Selective Memory

Dave the Tomb Robber (which is what his wife calls him when he clambers too far up his Professor of Archaeology pedestal) tells me the following quote from John Stuart Mill--liberally-laced with *tsk*-ing pontification on the "illegal war to impose our values on others" trail that we're treading--is enjoying a renewed popularity with the Brie and Chablis Set up the road:

The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

They apparently forgot that JSM also said:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

No pontification necessary. Kinda restores your faith in philosophy without having to wipe runny cheese off your chin...

by CW4BillT on Jul 04, 2006

June 28, 2006

Acidman sings...

...for those who never met Rob, or heard him sing, I'm hosting a song sent me by a friend of his.

John, Jen (Jinxie, from Ala's) sent me an audio clip of Acidman singing and playing guitar. It's a strange song, about his ex breaking up with her new boyfriend, and him telling her she can "come home anytime", but I like it, and the music itself is very nice. Anyway.... Jen sent it to me to pass on to you. I think you'll like it too. Dbie

1. Do *not* hotlink this file. Link the post.

2. Do my server a favor and "right click and save as", save it to your machine and play it locally. Your quality will be better, my server will be happier. If you don't know how to do that, you should learn how just as a matter of politesse!

Okay, The Armorer's Stern Warnings® haven been given - I give you Rob Smith...

Acidman sings.

Update: From the comments, LoopyLibertarian of Chromed Curses adds:

This was originally posted by Lil Toni who was sent the file by Rob's good friend Catfish. I just want to acknowledge them for bringing this music to us.

Update II. Heh. (Looks at Trackbacks) I finally got linked by Acidman. Now *that's* reach, folks.

by John on Jun 28, 2006
» Gut Rumbles links with: Rob's Music
» Gut Rumbles links with: Rob's Music
» Gut Rumbles links with: Rob's Music

June 26, 2006

Acidman, RIP.

June 26, 2006 News... This is Sam. Rob has passed away. They found him at 2:00 this morning slumped over on the couch. He did not shoot himself and no pills or alcohol were found in the house. When I find out anything else I'll let you know. Out of respect for my family please do not leave nasty comments.


Go in peace, friend.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

[Wherever he is, Rob is pissed right now that I used such sappy, if appropriate, music. Hee! Have one on me, fella!*]

And I should note - Acidman was one of the first big bloggers to link to SWWBO and blogroll her. And he *never* once, linked to me, or blogrolled me. Rob was *not* good for my ego - but he did make me laugh. The world is briefly a smaller place without Rob in it.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Jun 26, 2006
» La Shawn Barber's Corner links with: Rob at Gut Rumbles…
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: The Acidman departs
» basil's blog links with: Picnic 2006-06-27
» Outside The Beltway | OTB links with: Rob Acidman Smith, RIP
» My Side of the Puddle links with: Unexpected Influences
» Classical Values links with: Rob Smith, R.I.P
» Classical Values links with: Rob Smith, R.I.P

June 24, 2006

Another vacant chair... the 162d's extended family.

William K. Healey
October 23, 1949 -- November 12, 2003
Platoon Leader, 162d Assault Helicopter Company: 70-71

Bill Healey walked the path to Fiddler's Green five years after he and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world -- and were given the news that he wouldn't live to see her grow to be a young lady.

It's not timely, but it's fitting. He was one of the good ones... In Memoriam.

[This post will remain on top all day. New content comes in below]

by CW4BillT on Jun 24, 2006
» HELLO IRAQ links with: Who am I? - My tribute to all our troops!

June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Dad.


That's all. Move along.

by John on Jun 18, 2006

June 04, 2006

Crazy Aunt Ida

Every family has one. The 'odd' relative. The one that makes you know your family is unique, among all those others. I'm not talking about the black sheep, or the family member that went to jail or the noose for being a serial murderer. Nor the famous ones - I'm a second cousin, six times removed, of Meriwether Lewis. Of course, so are several hundreds, possibly thousands, of other people, but I don't let that get in my way. No, I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about...

..the Fun ones. The ones who just saw the world a little differently than the rest of us.

In my family, on my mother's side, that would be Aunt Ida. Born Ida May Meriwether in Paragould, Arkansas, she married Judge William Bandy of the same town. Much to the relief of the Meriwethers, who were wondering who was going to have the stamina to take on Ida Mae.

There are many, many stories about Aunt Ida. I'll dribble them out as I need them...

Judge Bandy was a grandee in Paragould. A man of position, wealth, and the power that goes with it. The Meriwethers, who owned the local hardware store and periodically the mayoralty of the town, were gentlemen farmers and moved in the same high circles. Large fish in what is a small town now, having kinda lost the development fight to Jonesboro. But back in the day, as the county seat, Paragould was what there was.

All that power was futile in the face of Aunt Ida. She recognized no higher authority than that of the Creator, then came her, and after that, well, no matter. You shouldn't take this mean that Aunt Ida was a cruel dictator - far from it. She just lived her life as she saw fit, and the rest of the world could adapt, no matter to her.

Fortunately, all she really cared about was her personal demesne, and her beloved, but thoroughly hen-pecked husband, Judge Bandy.

The thought had been growing in Aunt Ida's mind that her front door just wasn't right. And needed re-placing. No typo there.

It wasn't that the door was wrong, in and of itself. It was a fine, grand, dark oak door, with heavy brass furniture, leaded glass windows and a nice large knocker. It even had newfangled doorbell! No, the door was indeed a fine door, well made, and, with one small caveat, nicely situated where it would do quite well, thank you.


The problem was, it was in the wrong *place*. Ergo, it needed re-placing.

Now, you might think this means that perhaps we're going to do a little remodeling of the home, and move the main entry out a bit, or perhaps over a touch to the left, a bit to the right.

Nope. That wouldn't be right. We can't have that. Everybody knows the Front Door to the house shouldn't open directly into the Living Room! For pity's sakes, that would be monstrously silly!

And over to the right? So that it entered into the Drawing Room? I think not, thank you very much! Nossir! We'll have none of that avant garde thinking here, I'll tell you!

And in nowise am I going to allow you to defile my very nice and comfortable wrap-around porch by extending a vestibule onto the veranda and Spoil The View! I never! Much less the work to rearrange the belt-driven planter's fans that provide a cooling breeze on the sultry Arkansas summer evenings!

No, no - the door needed to be re-placed! Why was that so hard for everyone to understand?

Where? So that it faces the garden and pond - that I might enjoy the pond and the trees and the garden! Where else? What an odd question!

Uncle Bandy did try to reason with Aunt Ida. Quite a bit, actually. But Aunt Ida was a woman of Iron Will. She would make Maggie Thatcher seem a squish in comparison. Catherine the Great *might* muster near the iron - but I doubt it.

So, Judge Bandy, giving in to the inevitable, called on the local builders.

Who came, lifted the house, and rotated it 180 degrees. So that Aunt Ida, at last, could enjoy a proper view from her front porch. Of the back yard.

Remind me, at Christmas, to tell the story of Aunt Ida and the Christmas lights.

by John on Jun 04, 2006

May 29, 2006

A Toast, those of you gathered here at this time and place.

Absent Companions! (sound of glass slapping upside down on the bar, thirteen times). [insert your number here]

by John on May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - Taking Back the Holiday.

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd in the TC hatch of his Abrams in Iraq

I don't mind the sales. Commerce built this country. I don't mind "Going to the Lake" - having fun with family and friends makes life worth living. And this day is about having a life worth living.

And I know that most of us (though not perhaps those who read this space) have no memory of a loved one lost in war. Many of the younger of us don't remember or never knew a relative who served in time of war.

Have a good time. That's the point.

By living your life, planning your future, you redeem the voucher that those who have answered the Last Call for the last time bought for you.

Their service was *all* about the Capital F Future.

Just by living our lives, and taking an interest in what goes on around us, we pay that debt. We can pay it ahead by keeping an eye on those who commit us to war. And recognizing that avoidance for avoidance's sake is as bad in its way as rushing headlong and blindly into battle. Truly, in this arena, the answer lies in the middle, not at the extremes.



Hosting provided by FotoTime

Whatever else you do with your free day - Remember Them. It only takes a moment. But Remember. They are not truly gone until we forget.

For some of us, the true meaning of this holiday doesn't come into focus until...

We Hear The Knock.

Attend The Funeral.

And Bury Our Dead.

This is why today is Memorial Day.

Click here - and Remember.

Crossposted at Milblogs and Smash's.

by John on May 29, 2006
» The Middle Ground links with: Why Memorial Day Matters
» BLACKFIVE links with: Memorial Day - Round Ups
» The Indepundit links with: Remember
» TacJammer links with: Memory - 2006
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Memorial Day 2006
» The Indepundit links with: Remember
» The Indepundit links with: Remember

Speaking of "Taking Back The Day"...

...we're doing better today than in Tommy Atkins' day.

*sentence purposely left vague -- there are levels and there are levelers...*

I went into a public-'ouse to get a pint o' beer, The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here." The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die, I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
"O it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' "Tommy, go away," But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play, The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play, O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.
I went into a theatre as sober as could be, They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me; They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls, But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' "Tommy, wait outside," But it's "Special train for Atkins!" when the trooper's on the tide, The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide, O it's "Special train for Atkins!" when the trooper's on the tide.
Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap; An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' "Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?" But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll, The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll, O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll.
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints: Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints.
While it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' "Tommy, fall be'ind," But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind, There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind, O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all: We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational. Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face. The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' "Chuck him out, the brute!" But it's "Savior of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot; An' it's "Tommy this," an' "Tommy that," an' anything you please; But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
-- Rudyard Kipling
by CW4BillT on May 29, 2006


Someone else to remember today... those sometimes lonely figures walking alone in the Gardens of Stone, careworn and wistful.


As she stands beside his grave
On yet another Memorial Day,
She remembers the boy she sent away
And how he became the man resting here today.
His heroes didn't become famous playing ball.
In fact most of their names were never well known at all.
They went to work wearing camouflage green and desert brown,
Earning their reputation as the toughest warriors around.
When he first saw them in dress blues
The heart within her little boy knew,
That nothing short of becoming one of them would do.
Time all too quickly passed by
As childhood things were put aside,
And his heart's desire would not be denied.
"I love you mom" he said one day
"But the time has come for me to go away",
And she knew his decision she couldn't sway.
Through tears she tried so hard to keep inside
She told her baby boy goodbye.
Writing him letters nearly every day
She often took the time to pray,
"Lord be with my boy today".
"Help him clearly see the man I know that he can be,
Grant him his most cherished dream,
Let him come home, a United States Marine."
When the time came for him to go to war
She feared as she had never feared before,
Prayed there would be no knock on her front door.
They came that day dressed in their blues
And though in her heart she already knew,
She cried out "No, it can't be true."
The man child she had sent away
Was at last coming home to stay.
He never doubted what they did was right,
And he never wavered in the fight.
Forever and always as in his childhood dreams,
Her boy remains a United States Marine.

Copyright 2006 Keo R. Gathman, used with permission. Permission is granted to send this to others, with attribution, but not for commercial purposes.

Keo herself is a former Marine, the sister of a soldier killed in Viet Nam ('70), and her son is currently in the Army.

by John on May 29, 2006
» BLACKFIVE links with: Memorial Day - Round Ups


A long while back, one of my fellow Viet Vets e-mailed a poem to me. The author was listed as “Unknown,” but I supposed it to have been written by someone's wife or fiancée.

It grated a nerve, then latched on to it. It slid into a quiet corner of memory and, at no particular time and for no paricular reason, it would reappear.

Over the years, I’d seen it on some Viet-Vet sites and a couple of grief-therapy sites--each time, the author was listed as “Unknown.” And I found it on a floppy in 2001--I'd evidently saved it as a text file about ten years ago and then tucked it away for safekeeping.

Finally, last year, I did some poking around, wondering if I could find the author.

I did. It was written by a gentleman named John Gordoski--not quite who I’d supposed it to be...

Things You Didn’t Do

Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it? I thought you'd kill me.

But you didn't.

And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain, and it did? I thought you'd say, "I told you so."

But you didn't.

Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were? I thought you'd leave me.

But you didn't.

Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug? I thought you'd hit me.

But you didn't.

And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans? I thought you'd drop me.

But you didn't.

Yes, there were lots of things you didn't do, but you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me. There were lots of things I wanted to make up to you when you returned from Viet Nam.

But you didn't.

I also found someone you should meet: Captain Robert D. Kent, USMC.

Read the epilogue, the comments from family, from friends and from one who just met him in passing.

Read them carefully...

by CW4BillT on May 29, 2006
» The Indepundit links with: Remember
» The Indepundit links with: Remember

May 28, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - The Burial

[Editor's note: This tale of the impact on two families of the death of a soldier began here with The Notification, continued here The Funeral, and will conclude here tomorrow.

"First Sergeant, Call the Roll."

"Lieutenant Cowherd, Leonard..."

"Lieutenant Cowherd, Leonard..."

"Lieutenant Cowherd, Leonard..."

"First Sergeant, let Lieutenant Cowherd's name be stricken from the roll."

Play this as you read. Amazing Grace

The Firing Detail Sergeant gives the command...

Seven rifles crack! in unison... once... twice... three times, echoed back from the trees on a misty morning at Arlington National Cemetery.

Tony picks up the tale in the Flast Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 28, 2006
» EagleSpeak links with: Memorial Day 2006
» Flopping Aces links with: Memorial Day 2006
» Mudville Gazette links with: Arlington
» Small Town Veteran links with: All Gave Some, Some Gave All

May 27, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - The Funeral.

Continuing my Memorial Day series from yesterday.

Tony picks up the story:

All that follow is beside the point above and perhaps more for my sake than yours. However, I know friends have questions and I'll try to answer as best I can. I'll move on to what I'm sure is the number one question on your mind - how was the memorial in Culpeper?

I can't really explain this weekend without explaining a little about Culpeper. This is a place that still has a thriving Main Street. This is a place where banks still occupy Main Street corners with big stone buildings. This is a place where the magnolias are taller than the houses they shade.

A.P Hill is a local boy done good and very much alive in conversation and pride. Hooker, Stewart, and Davis are contemporaries that inspire with their prowess and ideals of loyalty and devotion to higher calling.

Main Street on Friday night is packed with cars...because that's what you do in a town like Culpeper on Friday night. It's a place where you stop your car in the middle of a country lane to help a turtle across the road and the 30ish lady behind you rolls down her window to tell you thanks. BTW - Yes I did and yes she did.

It's a place where the owners and workers of floral shops, bed and breakfasts, hotels, funeral homes, media recognize values and heroes. It's a place where a Virgie Atkins comes out from behind the counter to give your wife a hug and sit through some sobs with her.

Everybody knows everyone and family reputation is borne as a matter of honor through the generations. It's a place two 9/11 flight attendants called home; a home with the values of the vast majority of the American land mass. The limos taking us to the church didn't fly funeral flags - they flew American flags. People noted and took as a good sign a hawk circling the steeple.

The ceremony was a town event; hero falls in battle. The mayor (ex-Special Forces) had American flags lining Main Street a la Fourth of July. The Governor had the state flag at half mast for the week. People just flat bent over backwards to honor Leonard's name and his country's cause and his service.

I really don't know how many hundred people attended but the local paper's Saturday morning edition headline described the preparations...and the fact that they really weren't sure if the plan to run sound and video to the outside tents was going to work.

The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry. Part 3, the Burial, is here.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 27, 2006
» Techography links with: Remember
» Stop The ACLU links with: Memorial Day Weekend Linkfest
» HomefrontSix links with: Memorial Day
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: MilBlogs Ready to Inform
» Small Town Veteran links with: All Gave Some, Some Gave All

May 26, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - The Notification

Do not stand by my grave and weep ...
I am not there;
I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds circling in flight.
Do not stand by my grave and cry ...
I am not there.
I did not die.
-- Royster

I am the great-grandson of a soldier of the Civil War.
I am the grandson of a soldier of the Great War.
I am the son of a soldier of Korea, and Vietnam.
I was a "Brat".
I was a soldier.
I am still a soldier, albeit in the Retired Reserve.

In a different life, now seemingly long ago and far away, I answered a ringing doorbell. I opened the door, and there stood the Western Union man. I was 12. I knew this was Not Good. Mom came up. She saw the Western Union man. She froze. The Western Union man looked miserable. I took the offered envelope. Opened it. Mom was a statue, frozen in her own private hell. The Western Union man was fidgety, and downcast.

I opened the envelope. Read it out loud.

"The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you that your servicemember, LTC Timothy H. Donovan, was wounded in combat in the Republic of Vietnam.

He was shot while flying in a helicopter. The a/c did not crash or burn."

That's it. Dad was wounded, not dead. Mom could breathe again. The Western Union guy was all smiles.

All smiles. Here we had definitive proof that Dad had been wounded in combat and that didn't strike any of us as a Bad Thing. Because we were giddy, too. Because it was a telegram, not a Notification Team.

No military sedan in the driveway. No somber-faced officer and Chaplain. Just the Western Union guy. But sometimes the Army screwed up - and it *was* the Western Union guy who essentially was the notification guy, hence the tension.

Now, over 2000 times since the crossing of the LD for Operation Iraqi Freedom, teams of officers have made visits like that one.

Only there were no giddy smiles and tears of relief, but rather tears of grief, fear, and not infrequently, anger.

Since the Founding of the Republic, some form of this process has played out 2,623,552 times, give or take.

America's Wars Total (Less conflicts after Gulf War 1)
Military service during war 42,348,460
Battle deaths 651,008
Other deaths in service (theater) 13,998
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 525,256
Nonmortal woundings 1,431,290

Joseph Stalin observed: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

Those are the statistics. Read now the story of one soldier, his wife, and his family and friends - the impact of the death of one man, a soldier, Leonard Cowherd, Second Lieutenant, United States Army.

I am starting Memorial Day today. There will be a key post each day through Monday - that chronicles how Memorial Day suddenly, sadly, explosively, numbingly takes on a wholly different texture for military families during a time of war. All of these posts will be long. But however long it seems for you, it's way too short for the body in the casket and a never-ending ache for those standing around the grave site. This is the story of 2lt Leonard Cowherd, Sarah Cerri Cowherd, and the Cowherd and Cerri families, as seen through the eyes of my Scorpion brother-in-arms, Tony Cerri, and in the final post, the Cowherds. This is a great country. And this is just one proof. This is the price of freedom, hope, and the fight for the future. As has been asked before - where do we find such men? Answer: look around you - they are everywhere. You just don't notice them. It is not my intent to exalt 2LT Cowherd above other casualties of this or any war.

It is just to let the story tell itself.

This is the story of two military families dealing with the death of a soldier. This is the story of bravery, fortitude, family, love. It is a story that plays out across all the services, the differences only reinforce the similarities.

It's real, it's true. It happened. And will happen again, as long as warriors have to man the ramparts and look outward to guard against what lurks in the darkness. As long as there is darkness.

Two years ago, a notification team made one of those visits to the home of one of my Army buddies, whose daughter's husband had just been killed in Iraq.

I have fought a good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith.

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness,

which the Lord, the righteous judge,

shall give me at that day:

and not to me only,

but unto all them also that love his appearing.

-- 2 Timothy 4:7, 8

So, let it begin (and yes, I have the family's permission to share this with you).

Friends---below are a series of emails, edited only to delete all the headings, from my good friend LTC(R) Tony Cerri...His son in law 2LT Leonard Cowherd was killed last week in Iraq. Leonard's death puts a face on the growing list of young men killed in Iraq. I think you will find these emails will touch your hearts....

We will carry the torch for you, Leonard.

The story of two families coping with the death of a soldier is contained in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on May 26, 2006
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 05/26/2006
» The Discomfort of Thought links with: Memorial Day
» Stop The ACLU links with: Memorial Day Weekend Linkfest
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: MilBlogs Ready to Inform
» All Things Beautiful links with: No Regrets
» Fuzzilicious Thinking links with: Meditations for Memorial Day
» Small Town Veteran links with: All Gave Some, Some Gave All
» Michelle Malkin links with: FREEDOM IS NOT FREE

May 14, 2006

Mother's Day 2006

Mother's Day 2006

I wuv woo!

And for you cooks out there - Shawn ably hosts the Mother's Day edition of Carnival of the Recipes! Which SWWBO *invented* doncha know!

Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty (1892—1975):

“The most important person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul….The angels have not been blessed with such a grace.”

by John on May 14, 2006

May 05, 2006

Your Mileage May Will Vary

I walked out to the end of the driveway at 5:30 yesterday morning to pick up the Daily Fishwrapper and, in the half-light, saw this.


It's a three-year old Japanese tree peony. Nothing that should have stopped me in my tracks except

a. tree peonies around here don't bloom until the end of May, or -- with the cold nights we've been having here -- early June;

b. the previous evening, after I'd wrapped KC in her bedding for the last time and put her next to Boots and Saddles deep in the back garden, I'd passed the thing on the way to the mailbox and it didn't have a thing on it but leaves; and

c. according to the catalog, this particular Taiyo cultivar would bloom *red*, not pink. And at three years of age, this was its first blooming.

The blossom is so heavy, it bent the stem almost to the ground (relax -- I staked it after I took the pic).

Now, I know a dog's got a rather limited view of the color spectrum -- varying shades of yellow, greenish-blue, true blue, white and grey -- but KC knew what *pink* was, and liked it, no matter what the object was or its texture or smell.

Her food dish was pale pink and the old sweatshirt she slept on was hot pink. Visitors were welcomed politely, but visitors who wore pink got the Unmitigated Doggie Dance of Joy. I tried an experiment once: Muffy's food dish is the same make and model as KC's, but Muff's is light beige, so it fell into the same part of the dog-view spectrum as pink. Both were freshly washed and both had the same amount of food in them. I stuck Muffy's dish in front of KC and KC's dish in front of Muffy -- KC scrambled across the kitchen to *her* dish.

So much for background. Start your engines, kids, here's the poser:

Was it a coincidence that a tree peony with a half-inch diameter stem went from having no flower buds to producing an eight-inch diameter bloom overnight (and a chilly night, at that) about a month ahead of its neighbors (there's another one six feet further down the driveway -- *no* buds) and producing a pink flower rather than a red one?

-- Or --

Did Something Who inhabited a small, furry body for less than an eyeblink in Eternity leave a final gift and stroll off with a jaunty grin?

Whichever it was, thank You...

by CW4BillT on May 05, 2006
» The Gun Line links with: For The Scruples...

May 04, 2006

Hear hear!

Let's hear it for Judge Brinkema:

The sentencing Judge to Moussaoui: "Mr. Moussaoui, when this proceeding is over, everyone else in this room will leave to see the sun ... hear the birds ... and they can associate with whomever they want," she said.

She went on: "You will spend the rest of your life in a supermax prison. It's absolutely clear who won."

And she said it was proper he will be kept away from outsiders, unable to speak publicly again.

"Mr. Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr in a great big bang of glory," she said, "but to paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot, instead you will die with a whimper."

At that point, Moussaoui tried again to interrupt her, but she raised her voice and spoke over him.

"You will never get a chance to speak again and that's an appropriate ending."

Brinkema sentenced Moussaoui to six life terms without the chance of parole.

She informed him of his right to appeal the sentence and said she would ask his court-appointed lawyers to file the required notice as a precaution before relieving them from the case. "I believe it would be an act of futility," she said of an appeal, "but you do have a right."

I still think letting Pvt's Linzie and Graner be his guards would be fun.

Here's hoping a Kerry-clone President will have the will to resist this:

French authorities said Thursday they may eventually press the United States to have Moussaoui serve his life sentence in France under two conventions on the transfer of convicts. They were waiting to hear the conditions of his sentencing.

As for this:

Moussaoui's mother Aicha El Wafi, pressed for her country to intervene. "Now he is going to die in little doses," she said. "He is going to live like a rat in a hole. What for? They are so cruel."

Tough noogies, lady. You can go clean up bone chips at Ground Zero and contemplate the reality of it.

by John on May 04, 2006
» reverse_vampyr links with: Moussaoui's Daily Schedule in Supermax

It seems like there's no good news at the Castle today.

Mrs. Greyhawk sends:

A fellow MilBlogger is in need of our thoughts and prayers. Greg at Greg Note's has recently returned from battle in Iraq, safe and sound. However, he now faces a new battle from within. He has been diagnosed with colon cancer. You can find details on his wife, Sheryl's blog Two Blue Lines. Here's an excerpt from Sheryl: The doctor ordered blood work and a colon scope... to which my husband vehemently opposed, but finally agreed. I made arrangements to farm out the children to the four corners of the earth (no one person wants to keep ALL of them) and I headed to Hattiesburg on Saturday to await the results of the tests. When I arrived in town, Greg told me it was cancer. They found a golfball size mass in his colon that had to be removed immediately. The surgery was scheduled for Monday morning. We both stared at each other trying to soak it in and register what was happening. I am not sure that we have fully gotten there even now.

Monday morning the doctor found that the cancer has spread outside the colon. They removed half of his colon, his appendix and 15 of his lymph nodes. He will have to undergo 9 - 10 months of chemotherapy after he heals from the surgery. The prognosis? 60% chance of survival unless the cancer has spread anywhere else.

...Me? I am still numb and trying to busy myself by dealing with Tricare and the military to make arrangements to bring him home. I am staying here at the hospital until they release him. He will have to stay here in Hattiesburg until the doctor releases him to make the drive back home. We are told that will be 4 -6 weeks.

Greg Anton is in Wesley Medical Center, Room 336, 5001 Hardy St., Hattiesburg, MS 39402.

The support of the MilBlog community has been unmatched any where in the blogoshere and has does wonders in the past. Greg and Sheryl have a long precarious road ahead of them. Lets combine our efforts to keep their spirits high while he battles this newfound enemy.

Thank You,

Mrs G.
MilBlog Ring Manage

Go, lend a brother-in-arms and his family some support. Prayer, cards, letters, whatever.

by John on May 04, 2006

...and then there were three

Muffy -- call the roll.


name kc...

name kc...

name kc...

>>hzzz. bigfoot strike scrup'l name kc from roster.

The Littlest Scruple is now trotting the towpath on a longer trip than the ones we used to take when we walked together, even though it's been a couple of years since she was up to it.

It was a bad week followed by a bad night and a worse morning. This afternoon, she told me it was time. Past time...

The walks were all about the journey, not the destination, back when. Keeping the other two pups from getting overly enthusiastic with the wild things we met in the forest margins. Demonstrating the proper method of greeting small kids with nervous parents. Proving that a small dog with short legs can travel just as far as a big dog with long legs.

This time, the walk is about the destination, Little Bit. Stick to the towpath, follow your nose and listen for the dog-voices from a hundred dog-years ago.

Back then, the destination was always home, regardless of the roundabout ways we took to get there. This time, the walk is one-way...

KC: Sometime in Spring, 1991 -- 3 May, 2006

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Soft Green Field adjoining Fiddler's Green, where the small sparks of life go when they become embers.

Dreamless sleep, KC. Rest...

by CW4BillT on May 04, 2006

May 03, 2006

Fran O'Brien's

Since I know from personal observation around here that many people read, but don't click through on links, I'm going to be bad and pretty much swipe Fuzzybear Lioness' post on Fran O'Brien's and put it up here - so it *will* get read.

The American Legion has upped the ante on Hilton Corporation, with a two-fer.

1. They offer to pay for half the cost of the installation of an elevator to bring the space into compliance with the ADA.

2. They guilt 'em with Conrad Hilton's own words. American Legionnaire Conrad Hilton.

It Ain't Over... Some interesting things are still going on in the Fran O'Brien's - Hilton saga.

First of all, reportedly there may have been ongoing lawyerly conversations between the parties as late as Tuesday, and more interestingly, an article by Lisa Hoffman last weekend mentioned that the American Legion had offered to help Capital Hilton pay for the installation of a new elevator. The cost of the elevator had been cited as one of the issues in development of a new lease for Fran's, with reports being that it was more than one year's worth of rent. Apparently that wasn't an idle offer by the Legion. On Tuesday morning the following was hand-delivered to Capital Hilton and faxed to the Chief Executive Officer at Hilton's corporate offices (I have a digital copy of it, but can't convert it to a graphic):

May 1, 2006

Mr. Brian Kelleher
General Manager
Capital Hilton Hotel
1001 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Kelleher:

The leasing dispute between The Capital Hilton Hotel and Fran O’Brien’s Stadium Steakhouse has been brought to our attention. We understand the owner’s generously cater to the most severely wounded troops injured in the war on terror by providing them with free weekly steak dinners. We would like to see this tradition continue at Fran O’Brien’s.

While we aren’t privy to all the details, The American Legion would like to make The Hilton Corporation an offer in the best interest of these wounded heroes and their families who frequent the dinners at your hotel.

For two and a half years now, the owners of Fran O’Brien’s have offered up much more than free steak. This venue has become an important element to their long recovery from wounds most will have for the rest of their lives. This environment has provided mental and emotional healing we can’t see or put a price tag on.

We understand that the dispute between the Capital Hilton and Fran O’Brien’s is a monetary one. We will meet you half way [in] ending this dispute for one reason: Our wounded warriors and those who care for them deserve better. All parties involved are in a position to make this happen.

We will match 50 percent of the cost of an elevator to help bring Fran O’Brien’s and the Capital Hilton into ADA compliance (American Disabilities Act).

In the spirit of your founder and namesake Conrad Hilton, we would very much like to end this dispute and work together in a common cause also dear to Mr. Hilton’s heart as you can read from his 1968 statement below when he agreed to be a member of The American Legion’s 50th Anniversary National Prestige Advisory and Entertainment Advisory Committees.

Conrad was a charter member of Post 58 in El Paso, Texas and held continuous membership until his death in 1979.

“I am a charter member of Post 58 at El Paso, Texas, and have always considered it a privilege to belong to an organization which has made so many contributions to the Nation and to the welfare of my fellow veterans. I am proud of the fact that shortly after World War I, I helped organize Post 58 at El Paso, Texas, and have maintained my membership in The American Legion continuously since then. The World War I veterans who founded The American Legion created, not just an organization of veterans, but a vigorous defender of basic American principles of justice, freedom, and equality of opportunity. I am proud to have been a charter member of my Post.”

Conrad N. Hilton

We hope to work with The Hilton Corporation in the interests of those who have paid a heavy price for our continued way of life, and we hope you accepted our offer to release some of the financial burden for both parties and install an elevator in The Capital Hilton.


National Commander

Copy to:
Stephen F. Bollenback
Chief Executive Officer
The Hilton Corporation

People associated with the Friday Nights at Fran's passed this letter on with with the request that we continue to keep the pressure on Hilton. So, if you haven't yet called or written, this is your chance. Sign the petition here.

Email accounts have been overwhelmed/blocked, but you can use the Hilton Honors address: Also, you can reach CEO Stephen F Bollenbach at 310-205-4656 and Director of Communications Lisa Cole at 305-503-6503 or 786-866-7567.

If anyone has any more good contact info, please share it in the comments.

by John on May 03, 2006

April 28, 2006

Saving Closing Fran O'Briens

Looks like we lost the fight. Can't win 'em all, and it was a fun fight to wage. And Brian Kelleher, the General Manager of the Capital Hilton, certainly knows what a milblog is now.

I don't have much to say - to me it's time to move on with the job of finding another venue for the dinners until Fran's reopens somewhere else, hopefully close enough to make it the success it was before - and maybe even better, in a more accessible location.

Fuzzybear Lioness, who has been a tireless crusader on the topic, and used the top turret of Castle Argghhh! to light her signal fire, has this to say:

Actually, nobody does. Andi is traveling and Greyhawk doesn't have anything up yet. I haven't seen anything at Blackfive or Smash. And Grim is directing people to me for "the latest." But I don't have any new information.

This is just so sad. I'm the last person to ascribe things like a "spirit" to an inanimate object. But Fran's has an amazing positive energy about it. It's like one of my commenters associated with it said: It all came together at Fran's--the people, the location, the facilities. Until Fran's can get themselves situated in a new location, the community that has developed will be running on only half-power, if at all.

Bear in mind, the lack of mention might well have to do with the DOS attack on-going, and don't take it as a slam to those bloggers.

The time has come to move on, and those who are in a position to help keep the tradition going while Hal and Marty get re-established to lift and shift their fires.

by John on Apr 28, 2006

April 16, 2006

The Vacant Chair.

The Vacant Chair

Here at the Castle we get emails like this one I'm about to share, now and again. Today is Easter for the Christian world, so this seems appropriate. I am a man with faith, though I do not seek a relationship through the offices of any particular organized community of faith. Yesterday, Blue Star Chronicles left a trackback on the H&I which I thought needed to be moved up into the post itself.

Titled, "Final Salute" it is more about her concerns for her son's impending deployment to the Big Sandbox, and the pain she's seen already, and she wonders how we all cope.

That motivated frequent commenter Gwedd, a retired Navy aircrewman, to send along this (edited just a touch for privacy).


I was reading the post linked to today over to Blue Star Chronicles about how Beth there is worried about her son deploying soon. The "600 pound elephant in the room", and also her links to the story about a Marine casualty returning home. I had the honor to perform this duty back in 1978, and it's something I will never forget. Not only because of the whole experience, but because I knew the sailor who I escorted home. He was a friend, and that made it both easier and harder.

Anyway, I thought also about how others deal with this, and one commenter on her blog remarked about an empty chair at the table. This immediately reminded me of an old civil war song entitled "The Vacant Chair", by George F. Root. It's maudlin and poignant and yet still rings through 145 years to today. I've included the lyrics for your perusal.

Thanks for the great weblog you fellers run. It's always a good read for this old airdale.




We will meet but we will miss him,
There will be his vacant chair;
We will linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer;
When a year ago we gathered,
Joy was in his mild blue eye,
But a golden chord is severed,
And our hopes in ruin lie.

We will meet, but we will miss him,
There will be his vacant chair,
We will linger to caress him
While we breathe our evening prayer.

At our fireside, sad and lonely,
Often will the bosom swell
At remembrance of the story,
How our noble father fell;
How he strove to bear our banner
Through the thickest of the fight;
And uphold our country's honor,
In the strength of manhood's fight.

True, they tell us wreaths of glory
Ever more will deck his brow,
But this soothes the anguish only,
Sweeping o'er our heartstrings now.
Sleep today, Oh early fallen,
In thy green and narrow bed.
Dirges from the pine and cypress
Mingle with the tears we shed.

'Tis more than just a song.

I know I'm mangling theology here (for which I will be punished by my more ecclesiastically-learned colleagues on Monday) but I see an easy Easter tie-in.

What is a Church, but a Vacant Chair? A place to focus the thoughts on sacrifice and promise of redemption, and a better future? And what is Easter but the single most intense moment of that Promise? And the hope for an eventual reunion?

Happy Easter. Go hang with your family and friends. In Church, if you want.

Salisbury Cathedral

by John on Apr 16, 2006

April 13, 2006

Save Fran O'Brien's

UPDATE IV: Click here.

UPDATE III: Andi says at 6:00 EDT: "Looks like I may have some news to share with you soon, likely tomorrow. For now, be VERY respectful when you contact the Hilton Corporation. Let them know how much these dinners mean to our troops, and that we hope they will continue. Stay tuned...." This may be corroboration of the info in the original Update. Well see, I guess...

UPDATE II: Wizbang has the Hilton side of things (scroll down).

UPDATE: Good News!!! Commenter "mdwest" reports (over at Andi's) having spoken to the manager at Fran's this afternoon. They are in the middle of negotiations with Hilton! There is no reason to assume either way, but at least there is hope. And even if it is only a short extension on the lease, it can give Fran's time to find another location nearby and continue its tradition of supporting the troops. Don't stop contacting Hilton, yet!

Many people associated with the military, especially those who work with the wounded, are aware of what the restaurant Fran O'Brien's has been doing every Friday night since 2003 for the patients at Walter Reed and Bethesda. But their great work is in danger of ending in just two weeks. As Capitol Hill Blue reporter Lisa Hoffman describes it:

...for those whose future plans exploded the moment they were maimed, the steps and the landmark restaurant they lead to are a welcome-mat back to normal life...

In a restaurant where a T-bone goes for $30 a pop, each recuperating vet gets a full-course feast, plus whatever libations they choose, for is the atmosphere as much as the food that feeds the 50 or so troops and family members who partake each week...

There they find camaraderie, mutual support and, commonly, a lot of laughs. It's a night out like they enjoyed before they went to war. No one stares at them and no one will let them sink into self pity, said Staff Sgt. Joshua Olson, now 26, who lost his right leg up to the hip two years ago when an enemy rocket hit his truck in Tal Afar, Iraq. "You have to decide if you're going to lay in bed or get up and live,"

Fran O'Brien's has been denied an extension on their property lease by the Hilton (Hotels) company and will be closing their doors on April 31st 30. They requested a renewal on the lease 6 months ago and were repeatedly told it was being developed. Finally the company started ignoring their requests for information. Only very recently did they recieve notice that the lease will not be renewed.

The restaurant owners have been given no explanation for the non-renewal, but there seem to be liability concerns about the number of wounded and disabled people Fran O'Brien's accomodates on Friday evenings. However, Hilton refuses to do the construction necessary to alleviate those concerns, and no legal actions have developed from "inadequate" facilities.

The impact that Fran O'Brien's generous support of the wounded troops through their free meals has had on morale and recovery at Walter Reed and Bethesda cannot be overstated [see "Extended Entry" below]. Their's has been an extraordinary gift of love and support, at great financial cost to the restaurant owners. We can't let them lose their restaurant, or let this wonderful expression of support disappear.

I've seen for myself that the energy, ideas, and contacts of the milblog world are astonishing. Let's put them together and fix this problem. Greyhawk writes:

If you are so inclined I would like to ask you to call and/or email the following two officials at the Hilton and voice your support for Hal and Marty and express your concern for the reasoning behind this seemingly arbitrary decision. Please call them tomorrow or Friday and feel free to share this with anyone else who might be willing to call.

Here are the people to call:

*Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558

Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000*

[For those of you whose blood pressure resembled mine after hearing this: we need to be sure to be polite and civil in our contacts with Hilton. The a**-chewing they deserve for their collossal lack of PR savvy would not be helpful in this case. And be sure to read the comments below for good ideas.]

For more information: Wizbang (coordinating a protest this Friday--4/14--at the Hilton attached to the restaurant), Andi's World, OPFOR (the newly-renamed and reopened Officer's Club).

Others blogging this: Neptunus Lex, TC Override (CPT Z), Proud Army Mom, Don Surber, Blue Crab Boulevard, The Real Ugly American.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by Denizens on Apr 13, 2006
» Most Certainly Not links with: Have a Moment to Send an E-mail?
» She Who Will Be Obeyed! links with: Save Fran O'Brien's
» Flopping Aces links with: The Fight For Fran O’ Brien’s
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Spread the Word - Save Fran O'Brien's
» Redneck Peril links with: An open letter to the Capitol Hilton, Washington, D.C.
» Void Where Prohibited links with: Hilton doesn't care about disabled Vets??
» The Yankee Sailor links with: A Bitch Slap for the Chickenhawk Crowd
» The Yankee Sailor links with: Sailor Donates House for Blind Girl
» Jack Yoest links with: Corvettes in China
» HomefrontSix links with: I apologize
» Jack Yoest links with: Corvettes in China

April 07, 2006

There we were, in Charlie's Den...

CW4 Mike Novosel

Politicians wax eloquent of the dead. Clergy offer condolence and hope. The talking head reads what is put in front him. Friends and family reminisce in fond remembrance and the pain of loss.

In the end, for the warrior, it's what his brothers-in-arms say that echoes across the chasm crossed by the Rainbow Bridge, down the road to the rollicking laughter that spills out from Fiddler's Green...

Today I hear the laughter.

Comes now a comrade of Mike Novosel, Warrior Angel.

I remember Mike Novosel so well. I was at the 3rd Surg when he was flying in wounded to us with the 82nd Dustoff. He was old enough to be a father to most of us there... in fact his son, Mike Jr., was also flying with the 82nd at the same time.

Come an evening if we weren't working we would sit around the table at Charlie's Den, the O-club at the 3rd Surg and tell "there I was" tales. Some evenings Mike Sr. and the CO of the 82nd would also be over there and they would stand against the wall at the end of the club and watch the younguns. We used to tease Mike Jr. mercilessly and tell him his Dad made us feel like we were at the senior prom and he was the chaperone.

But Mike Sr. never treated us like kids. He treated us like comrades in arms, with a ready smile, a soft word, and a kind manner.

I guess I'll see him at Fiddler's Green again one of these days.

-Carol T. Kirk, MAJ Ret-
RVN 5/1969-12/1970

Yes, it's the laughter *I* hear.

Fare thee well, Mike. Keep 'em cold and keep 'em coming! And give Whiskey a pet and tell him I miss him, eh?

Chivvy up to the Bar of Argghhh! Carol. The 'ritamatic is humming, the beer is always cold, and the well is deep.

What with our own coterie of Viet Vet Helivators, this is as good a place for a wake as any. This *is* an Irish Castle, after all, and whatever his heritage, Mike is Irish today.

*Irish Tenor*

"It's whisky in the mornin', whisky in the night
Another Irish Soldier-lad has fought his final fight
We'll toast him till we're drunk Boys, and dowse the candle light
Tell them Mike Sr. is coming home tonight."

*/Irish Tenor*

by John on Apr 07, 2006

April 06, 2006

Honor and Privilege.

This post trumps the H&I Fires for 5&6 April and will be the top post 5&6 April.

My Rotary club celebrated it's 90th anniversary last night with a special dinner meeting to rededicate our 1916 Charter as the 210th Rotary Club. Our Charter was water damaged in a flood last year and we literally got it back from the document restorers the day of the party.

We were graced with the presence of one of our Honorary Members - Colonel (R) Roger Donlon. Roger is one of two Medal of Honor holders living in Leavenworth, the other being Lieutenant Colonel (R) Chuck Hagemeister.

What a treat to meet Roger and his wife. Like every other Medal holder I've ever met - just an ordinary joe... except for that little blue Rosette on his lapel...

He's a tall man that the miles have been easy on to external appearances. Chatting with him and listening to the casual name-dropping of Medal holders was... odd. Except it wasn't name-dropping, as Roger and his wife just simply move in those circles, just having come back from where Roger and 13 other Medal holders did the closing bell ceremony for the NYSE.

The funniest stories revolved around parking places. At the Fort we have the usual reserved parking places for Generals and Command Sergeants Major, Disabled, and Fill-in-the-blank Honoree of the month - and Medal of Honor Winner.

My buddy Mike acts as a mentor for a young government intern (in a good way, unlike some others that come to mind) and Mike and Robert went to the golf course clubhouse for lunch. While going in, Robert asked about the Medal of Honor space and Mike explained about Roger and Chuck. Coming out after eating, Mike saw Roger going in and pointed him out to Robert. As they passed by the Medal of Honor parking spot, which was empty, Robert turned to Mike and said "But he didn't park in the spot...?" To which Mike replied - "That tells you more about the man than the Medal." Mike told that story to Roger and his wife, which caused Roger's wife to chime in with her own story.

She doesn't use the parking spots unless Roger is in the car with her (good for her) but she does like to drag Roger along when she goes to the Commissary if she can. One day she was successful at doing so - and Roger was waiting in the car when his wife came out with with one of the baggers with the groceries. She said the young man had a very grumpy look on his face, and after he'd loaded the groceries in the car - he went around to where Roger was sitting behind the wheel and said "You shouldn't be parking here! This is Mr. Hagemeister's spot!"

Obviously, Roger doesn't go to the Commissary much...

Name dropping...

While discussing the recent passing of two Medal of Honor holders discussed in this space, Roger told us yet another Holder has passed to Fiddler's Green. Michael J. Novosel, another Warrior Angel (Dustoff pilot).

Sigh. There are only 113 living holders now. Roger passed on this interesting tidbit about Mr. Novosel - he was shot down himself one day... and was rescued by another chopper - piloted by his son. One month later, Novosel rescued a shot down chopper pilot - his son.

Another Medal holder passes. The rule of threes holds.

Mr. Novosel passed away on April 2, 2006.

Rank and organization: Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Army, 82d Medical Detachment, 45th Medical Company, 68th Medical Group. Place and date: Kien Tuong Province, Republic of Vietnam, 2 October 1969. Entered service at: Kenner, La. Born: 3 September 1922, Etna, Pa. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. CWO Novosel, 82d Medical Detachment, distinguished himself while serving as commander of a medical evacuation helicopter. He unhesitatingly maneuvered his helicopter into a heavily fortified and defended enemy training area where a group of wounded Vietnamese soldiers were pinned down by a large enemy force. Flying without gunship or other cover and exposed to intense machinegun fire, CWO Novosel was able to locate and rescue a wounded soldier. Since all communications with the beleaguered troops had been lost, he repeatedly circled the battle area, flying at low level under continuous heavy fire, to attract the attention of the scattered friendly troops. This display of courage visibly raised their morale, as they recognized this as a signal to assemble for evacuation. On 6 occasions he and his crew were forced out of the battle area by the intense enemy fire, only to circle and return from another direction to land and extract additional troops. Near the end of the mission, a wounded soldier was spotted close to an enemy bunker. Fully realizing that he would attract a hail of enemy fire, CWO Novosel nevertheless attempted the extraction by hovering the helicopter backward. As the man was pulled on aboard, enemy automatic weapons opened fire at close range, damaged the aircraft and wounded CWO Novosel. He momentarily lost control of the aircraft, but quickly recovered and departed under the withering enemy fire. In all, 15 extremely hazardous extractions were performed in order to remove wounded personnel. As a direct result of his selfless conduct, the lives of 29 soldiers were saved. The extraordinary heroism displayed by CWO Novosel was an inspiration to his comrades in arms and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

Sergeant Whiskey - Lead Mr. Novosel over to where Rick Rescorla leads the singing. Then do your duty and clean those feet.

by John on Apr 06, 2006

April 03, 2006


Surrounded by Sparks of Life that are Happy I'm Home.

Me too.

And even though it's 9PM CDT on Monday, to my internal clock it's 12 noon on Tuesday... and I've been up since 6AM on Monday...


by John on Apr 03, 2006

March 31, 2006

Prodigal Son@21

The Prodigal Son of Argghhh! is 21 today.

I regret that I will not be there for your first legal shot, Andy. Not that it won't be landing on top of a few less-than-legal ones, I know. But, what the heck, your mother is the daughter of a beer magnate, she'll have all that covered, I suspect.

I'm proud of ya kid. Even with that whole avalanche thing still hanging between us.




/sappy post. There's nothing to see here. Move along.

by John on Mar 31, 2006

March 19, 2006

SGT Whiskey

Name Muffy - call the roll.


name Whiskey...

name Whiskey...

name Whiskey...

hzzz. big-tribble-with-legs strike name Whiskey from watch list. hzzz.

He got his name because he was a licker. And he enjoyed his work. We told people he was a Jack Daniel's terrier.

SGT Whiskey, member of the Exterior Guard with additional duties as Toe-Licker-In-Chief has passed to "Piddler's Green," the Rest Stop next to Fiddler's Green where Furry People go to await the arrival of their follicly-challenged hy'umans. He's in good company, preceded there by Sebastian, Little Guy, and Mickey. The Oklahoma Canine Cohort has completely passed from the Demesne.

Whiskey, dammit boy, come home!

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Great Hunting Ground and Tennis Ball Chasing Facility.

Fare thee well, thou good and faithful friend.

Great farkin' gobs of spittle, I *hate* entropy.

by John on Mar 19, 2006

March 13, 2006

Escort Duty

Provided below is a message from CW4(R) James V. Torney, who escorted the remains of CW2 Kyle E. Jackson home from Iraq. CW2 Jackson and CW3 Mitchell K. Carver, Jr., were killed in action near Al Sukar, Iraq, on Jan. 13, when their OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter came under attack by enemy forces using small arms fire. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y.

I was escorting our brother Kyle home the other day. A duty I don't ever want to do again but will not refuse.

Besides all of the attention you get walking around in your A's, I was thanked for my service from civilians, prior service, and active duty personnel in the various airports, some with a passing thank you, some stopped me to shake my hand. This I want to extend and share with all of you.

Delta Airlines was very accommodating. They put me in first class and moved me to the very first seat in each plane. A woman gave me her aisle seat so that I could leave without having to climb over her when the flight was over. After conversing with this woman for a while, I found out her husband was an F4E pilot during the Vietnam era. I was invited to dinner with them when I was finished with my duty. The restaurant manager paid for my rather pricey meal much to the dismay of my new friends who planned to pay for it themselves. I was then invited to stay at their home as long as I was going to be in Florida.

Back to Delta Airlines and the real reason of this post.

Prior to backing out of the terminal in Philadelphia the pilot came over the intercom. With a choked up voice he thanked the military for their service and explained that we were carrying the remains of a soldier who gave his life for his country and then asked for a moment of silence. We sat in silence for a few minutes and then backed out for Atlanta. Upon reaching Atlanta, I was met on the tarmac by a man who walked me around the front of the plane where there were more men standing in a row with every branch flag and the US flag. These men had assembled their own honor guard complete with a retired Army chaplain. There was someone from each branch holding a flag. They pulled the crate out of the plane and stopped it on the belt giving the chaplain time to say a prayer. They started the belt and came to attention rendering honors as it passed. They thanked me and sent me with a card they made on the computer and signed with their deepest regrets to the family and shuttled us to the next terminal. They had their reflective vests embroidered with Honor Guard and a US flag across the back. They also told me that they have a dark blue trolley that they use for this but it was missing (we found out it was sent to pick up Mitch at another terminal). They had explained that this was the least they could do to give back to those who had given their lives for them. This was the third toughest thing on my trip (seeing how much some really do care). The second: inspecting Kyle's uniform for the last time. And the hardest thing: seeing his family.

I wanted to share this experience with all of you because none of this was done for me. It was done for all of us. It was something nice out of something so terrible.

Thank You Kyle.

Thank You Mitch.

See you on the Green Fellahs!!!!!!!

James V. Torney

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

More here.

For pictures of Chiefs Jackson and Carver, go here. The Jan 13th entry.

by John on Mar 13, 2006

February 28, 2006

Another loss among the Denizens.

Bad Cat Robot knows the loss of a friend and respected colleague. Octavia Butler.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

If you don't have RealPLayer, click here for the MP3.

by John on Feb 28, 2006

February 22, 2006

Another Blog-guard passes.

Name Muffy - call the roll.


name Slinky...

name Slinky...

name Slinky...

hzzz. big-tribble-with-legs tell two-legs GEBIV strike name slinky from watch list. hzzz.

Via Harvey, we find that another blog has suffered a casualty to Entropy. Slinky at GEBIV has passed to "Piddler's Green" the Rest Stop next to Fiddler's Green where Furry People go to await the arrival of their follicly-challenged hy'umans. The Castle knows the feeling of loss engendered when you lose your Scrup'ls, and the Guard Mount knows a loss. This is the second blog-of-friend to lose a member of their Guard Mount in a week.


Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Great Hunting Ground and Tennis Ball Chasing Facility.

by John on Feb 22, 2006

February 17, 2006

Name Muffy, Call the Roll...


name Shades...

name Shades...

name Shades...

hzzz. big-tribble-with-legs tell two-legs BC strike name shades from watch list. hzzz.

Another Scrup'l* goes to heaven. The Castle knows the feeling of loss engendered when you lose your Scrup'ls, and the Guard Mount knows a loss.


Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance sing a soul to the Great Hunting Ground and Tennis Ball Chasing Facility.

*For new Castle visitors, Scrup'ls = Dogs. And it wasn't the Castle Guard Mount who lost the Scrup'l - it was BC, The Imperial Torturer, over at the Rottweiler's place. (note to self - you can't assume people click the links.)

by John on Feb 17, 2006

February 09, 2006

Did you ever wonder why...

...there was such a furor generated last election-time over whether or not John Kerry came by his Purple Hearts legitimately?

Lest anyone think us uniforms were stirring a tempest in a teapot, remember this: The PHM is an old award, and it's an Equal Opportunity one. Nothing--skin color, ethnicity, religious preference, where you came from or how you got here--matters except one thing: you bled from wounds inflicted by the enemy.

In many units, including my own, you weren't submitted for the award unless your wounds were such that you required evacuation to a field hospital. We considered it a point of honor to pull the shallower pieces of plexiglass or metal out ourselves--we didn't consider ourselves in the same league with the friends who lost limbs and lives.

The PHM Brotherhood is largely unrecognized as such. Some small towns have Walks of Honor with, at most, a name and service branch. A quick glimpse of the medal on one license plate on one car parked outside a mall or passing in the opposite direction on a busy road does nothing to convey the size of the Brotherhood--the tremendous number of Americans who have shed their blood for Freedom. And many, many shed their life's blood in its entirety. But there was never any single place where you could stand in one place and *see* all of them--hear their stories, see their faces, learn their fates.

But there will be.

H/t to Fuzzybear Lioness, who searches...

by CW4BillT on Feb 09, 2006

February 03, 2006


Defensor Fortis!

Slaglerock honors his Brothers in Arms.

While Fiddler's Green has been a lot more crowded at times than it is right now - The Castle Argghhh! section, opened on 9/11 with 13 seats, is growing rather larger than one would like. We're going to have to add another table with a Stammtisch* sign.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

*Stammtisch: In Germany, a table reserved for regular customers at a pub or restaurant. It's a gathering place. The Castle is a Stammtisch for the Denizen/nes. And we have a table at Fiddler's Green, as well. It's near the jukebox.

by John on Feb 03, 2006

February 01, 2006

I stand on the other side of most issues...

...including the war.

But I'll give Gary Trudeau a prop and a High Five for this one.

That is all.

by John on Feb 01, 2006

January 30, 2006

Service above self.

This deserves better than a trackback link on the H&I post..

Beth of Blue Star Chronicles honors service above self.

It’s the extraordinary common man who holds this country together. It’s the guy who loves his country, his family, his community and his God. It’s the wife who waits for him, understands him and loves him.

You probably know these people. They are probably down the street from you, living in your community.

They are the threads that make up the fabric of American society and the cloth of the American Flag.


Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

by John on Jan 30, 2006
» Small Town Veteran links with: Service Above Self

January 27, 2006

Combat Art and Artists

Commander Salamander indulges in his taste for military art. Heh. Whattaya expect from a member of a service whose antecedents include the homily "Rum, buggery, and the lash"?

Now - ya want some *real* combat art, try this:

Last February you guys were nice enough to post a piece about my little run in with protesters at the opening of my combat art show at the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine. I thought I’d let you and your readership know that I’m back in Iraq producing art and taking pictures. You can check out my current trip at [Fire and Ice] and see my work and read commentaries about my field experience. Thanks, Mike

Happy to oblige, Mike. All y'all add Fire and Ice to your blogrolls and RSS feeders.

And check out this post and this post for a little sample of what kind of work the Chief can do.

If this sample isn't enough.

2nd Platoon F/2/1 Bounding forward through breached walls, Hisaybah, Iraq, 9 Nov 05.</p>

<p>Art of WO1 Michael D Fay (CE MHG Combat Artist). Courtesy of the Marine Corps Combat Art Collection

by John on Jan 27, 2006

January 26, 2006

I got a compliment most of ya can't touch.

Quoth a good friend of mine yesterday at work:

"You must have the lowest-maintenance wife in the state."

Word. Er, phrase?

I dare say at *least* the region.

Sadly. for her, the reverse is probably not true.

I am, of course, not worthy.

That is all.

by John on Jan 26, 2006

January 18, 2006

Denizen Mission (and anyone else, too)

An appeal for Soldiers. A PSA from Castle Argghhh! I have to stick in this caveat - the gov't *does* provide sanitary items, and, via Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) funds, entertainment items to the troops. PX profits and surcharges on non-deployed MWR activities fund that - IOW, no appropriated funds are used - the money (outside of donations) for the services provided to deployed troops is raised from those of us (including retired old me, an MWR consumer who pays a surcharge on the stable rent and my via my PX patronage) in the military family who are not in-theater.

The government provides it - but it doesn't always do it efficiently for those who are closer to the sharp end of the spear. Hence the organizations like this that have sprung up to fill the unmet needs.

Send a Valentine to a soldier in Iraq!/Support Our Troops

Visit, and click on the big red heart. We will send a valentine to a soldier in your name with your Valentines message. We are fundraising to send more boxes to the Freedom Rest R&R Facility in Iraq. Valentines are $1.00, but you can give more!

You can no longer send any mail to "ANY SOLDIER" it is destroyed as a security risk., We have a military distributuion point in Iraq where your Valentines will reach thousands of troops.


In March, 2004, while my wife was in Iraq, I started Operation: A Bit of Home. My wife called me and told me she had to put on 80 lbs. of battle gear, pick up her rifle, and walk 2 miles in 140 degree heat to buy soap and tampons and toothpaste. She told me that the government does not supply any sanitary or entertainment items to our troops. I decided that I would not have my wife doing that. I started shipping boxes to her unit in Iraq, in large quantities.

In July 2004 I received a phone call from a place in Baghdad called Freedom Rest. They stated they were the only R&R facility in Iraq for our troops. They get soldiers that have been in combat, on convoys, or high stress dangerous situations and give them 3 days and nights of R&R, good food, a pool, games, a soft bed and goodies. They process hundreds of soldiers in-and-out each day. By supplying hygiene, snack and entertainment items to Freedom Rest, we have directly affected the lives of over 23,000 soldiers. (Verified in a letter from the NCOIC, USMI Freedom Rest)

They told me the government provides basic foods, linens etc., but all hygiene, snack and entertainment items come from donations, and asked if I could help. I am one of the few groups that actually have been asked to send supplies.

I know there are a lot of charities for the troops out there, but these facts set us apart from the rest:

1. We supply a facility for stressed troops, not individuals. We have eliminated the problem of NCO and officers hoarding the boxes. We do not send things to the same troops over and over. [I wanna know who the hoarders are. Out the b@st@ards]

2. Our website tells people how to send their own boxes, how to fill out the US Postal forms, gives packing tips and lists of needed items, and most mportantly, we give out the address to send it to. We do not post names of individual soldiers, a very dangerous thing to do. If Al Qaeda knows where a National Guard unit is from, and has names, they could potentially find and endanger soldier’s families just by using a phone book!

3. Although the website does accept donations from folks who want us to do all the work, we encourage people to do it themselves, give them the tools, and hope to encourage a sense of civic pride. We do civic presentations and assist groups in completing their “Public Service” obligations.

We are working with several organizations to help them develop their own programs.

I could go on forever, but if you visit our website, or Google Us, you will find we are legitimate. [I checked with real people, they are legitimate - The Armorer]

A short mention on people’s blogs could do more for us than months of our pounding the streets and working the phones. A link on your mail list or your homepage would work wonders also.

Please visit our website, google us, and tell your friends about us. Every dime of donations goes to shipping and buying needed items. No one is paid, we have no overhead, and we care about the troops. We continue to send even when donations are thin using our personal Credit Cards.

Thank you and please visit

Supporting the troops means more than placing a yellow ribbon on your

Thanks for your support

Ken Meyer
Operation: A Bit of Home

by John on Jan 18, 2006

January 16, 2006

"Draw the words of my story..."

Kat honors her uncle:

I am tired after two days at the hospital with only a catnap on the waiting room couch. I feel I cannot do the kind of fitting tribute here that he deserves as a man that was well loved and respected. In the movie "13th Warrior", the character Buliwyf, having left his father's inheritence on the shores of the Volga to return to Norse Land to fight the dreaded "fire worm", was dying slowly of blood poisoning. He said to Antonio Banderas' character, Ahmed, that a man with nothing might be thought a king if another man "drew the words of his story". My uncle died with little having given it all, in the end, for service to his country. So, I wanted to give him this last gift, that some might read his story and think him a king.
In his shadow box he has two purple hearts, a bronze star with V device, and several more commendation medals including, of course, his Vietnam service ribbon. There was also a piece of bent metal on a chain he had worn as a necklace in Vietnam after his M-60 took a round meant for him. The piece had flown off and stuck in his chest (one of the purple hearts). If it hadn't been for the M-60, it would have been a 7.62 round in his chest instead.
[ uncle's last helicopter in Vietnam was selected by the Smithsonian to represent pilots and crew of the era, having been shot down once and recovered, then shot many times, but repaired and still flying, it was one of the longest serving Huey's in the Army. Another helicopter from the era came to Kansas City with an assault helicopter crew association. My uncle took us to see the helicopter and, as a special favor, we were allowed to climb into the helicopter and sit in the pilot and gunner seats. Just another one of our biker day trips.

Then there is this. I think you Vultures could perhaps tap into reservoir here. He was Door Gunner. The Armorer asks that all who are motivated, do a little bit here.

The king was dead, long live his story.

The wake will be next Thursday and the funeral on Friday. When he died, they were very much in debt. His kids are having a hard time trying to figure out how to pay for his funeral. Because he died from respiratory failure associated with the pneumonia he contracted, the VA is not certifying his death as "service connected" so his wife is getting very little in terms of assistance from the VA or Medicare. I am not asking for money, but I would like to know if anyone knows of any veterans associations that might help his family pay for his funeral or offer other services. I know he did not belong to the VFW, but I don't know of other associations. We know that he could be buried at Leavenworth with no money paid for the plot or headstone, but his family is trying to honor his wish to be buried in the same cemetary as my grandparents so the cost is slightly higher. Still, the highest part is the other necessary activities regarding preparation of the body, the casket, etc.

If you know of any groups that could help, please email me at kehenry1 at hotmail dot com.

Thank you.

The whole piece, well worth your time, is here.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

by John on Jan 16, 2006

January 09, 2006

Someone you need to meet

[Armorer's Note - this is an important story that too many people don't know. As it broke on a Friday night, and traffic is lower during the weekends, with many regular readers not checking back in until Monday - this post will remain up top through Monday night. New stuff comes in below. Bill picks up the story...]

I would like to introduce you to someone: CW2 Hugh Thompson. A fellow helicopter pilot from my war...

You probably don't recognize his name and you probably don't know what he did, but you will definitely recognize where and when he did it: My Lai, Vietnam--1968.

What would you call a man who saw his friends committing murder and risked his life to stop them?

Find out in the Flash Traffic/Extended entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by CW4BillT on Jan 09, 2006
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: My Lai Hero Hugh Thompson Jr. Dies at 62
» Neptunus Lex links with: There’s someone you need to meet
» Grim's Hall links with: The Passing of a True Hero
» Outside The Beltway links with: Hugh Thompson, My Who Stopped My Lai Massacre, Dies at 62
» EagleSpeak links with: A salute to a hero
» Small Town Veteran links with: Rest in peace Hugh Thompson Jr.
» The Stupid Shall Be Punished links with: The Passing Of An American Hero
» CDR Salamander links with: Sunday Memorial
» pamibe links with: Salute to an American Hero
» Don Surber links with: Best Posts For Monday
» NIF links with: Your click is important, please hold

January 07, 2006

Happy Anniversary SWWBO!

I've been married for over 20 years now.

Yet this is my *first* 8th Anniversary.

This is why that is so:

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. I love you.

The *best* posts are always so simple to write.

by John on Jan 07, 2006

January 03, 2006


A photo to warm the cockles of a Redleg heart...

May 31, 2005  Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division fire a gun salute during “All-American Week” at Fort Bragg, N.C. by Tech Sgt Cherie A. Thurlby. This photo appeared on

by John on Jan 03, 2006

December 28, 2005


The year is ending on a hard note for many in the Castle circle of family and friends.

Ry's the latest. This from the comments, which I've pulled into the light.

And the Grim Reaper known as cancer has struck again. I'm gonna be incommunicado for a while. An uncle of Jess's just succumed (7pm PST) after a lengthy bout of cancer gained thru being a fireman for 20 years. I'm driving out to CA tomorrow with The Wife for a few weeks to get everything arranged and taken care of since they had expected him to turn the corner and haven't done anything.

You still have my best wishes Jack. Your father was a hero, a real salt of the Earth type. We're all diminished by his passing.

See you all when I get a computer set up at my Mothers.

There's a table set at Fiddler's Green. And music for him.

For those without RealPLayer, the MP3 is here.

And there are mixed sorrows, hopes and the story of a Lady's courage in Fuzzybear Lioness' latest telling of her travels last week...

by CW4BillT on Dec 28, 2005
» Techography links with: Yol Bolsun

December 27, 2005

Sigh. We're so sorry, Jack.

Castle Contrarian Jack has had to face that hardest of all decisions.

Go, share with Jack.

Read of a man...

Jack's father.

And what you can do, if you wish.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

If you don't have RealPLayer, click here for the MP3.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 27, 2005

Taking the road less traveled.

As a youngster, I'd have done the same.

Now... I'd take the tea and cookies.

by John on Dec 27, 2005

December 25, 2005


Merry Christmas, kids!

And it really *is* Christmas Day right now, even for FbL and Barb and Sarge B. I figure *one* of us has to stay honest with the post dates--uhhh, even if it usually *isn't* me...

I've always associated Christmas with sharing things. Care package cookies, letters from kids addressed to Any Soldier, pictures of futuristic helicopters done entirely in brown crayon--you know, the *neat* stuff that doesn't come from a store, but from the heart. And I shared, because I knew that whatever I gave would come back to me, maybe in a different form, but it would always come back.

V29 received this present and he decided to share it with me. It's the kind of present that needs to be shared...

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So, I slumbered--perhaps I started to dream…

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Why here, I wondered, huddled there in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
"What are you doing?" I asked without fear.
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
”Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
”You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light…

Then he sighed and he said, "It's really all right,
“I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
”That separates you from the darkest of times.
”No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
”I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
”My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, “That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers...
”My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,
”And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
”I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
”But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.”

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, blue... an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
”Away from my family, my house, and my home.
”I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
”I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
”I can carry the weight of killing another,
”Or lay down my life with my sister and brother
”Who stand at the front against any and all,
”To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
"So go back inside, and harbor no fright,
”Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
”It seems all too little for all that you've done,
”For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
”To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
”To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
”For when we come home, either standing or dead,
”To know you remember we fought and we bled
”Is payment enough, and with that we will trust
”That we mattered to you, as you mattered to us…”



Proud wife of SSG Melo
Final PCS 21 Dec 2004,
Last Mission: Guarding Freedom
New Mission: Guarding Heaven

SSG Julian S. Melo was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, part of the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division stationed at Fort Lewis, WA. He and twelve of his friends were killed in Mosul, Iraq, on 21 December, 2004. They'd been there about six weeks.

No dance today, though--their song has long since been played and even the echoes are gone and the thirteen have travelled the Hard Road. And a Lady who was left behind put aside her grief when the time for grieving was past and, just a short while ago, she shared...

So, if you get some quiet time today or tonight, say a prayer for those now in harm's way. Make a wish for their safe return. Share the wish with God, if you are a believer, or launch it on the wings of Hope if you aren't.

And channel comfort to all those left behind.

I have to go, now. Somebody's outside...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lex's sister passed this morning. Fuzzibear Lioness has the link. Stop in and leave him a note...

by CW4BillT on Dec 25, 2005
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Last-minute shoppers flock to stores on Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas everybody!.

To heck with it. I'm not taking the laptop with me! So, here's my Christmas post a day early. See ya on the 26th!

Hosting provided by FotoTime

MOSUL, Iraq (Dec. 21, 2003) -- An M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon stands perched under the Christmas tree at the 101st Airborne Division G-6 office at the palace in the Division Main compound in Mosul Sunday night. Instead of under the tree, the presents for the members of the unit are on a cabinet nearby. Photo by Pfc. Chris Jones, 40th PAD

Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All. And these guys and gals help keep it that way. Just as did this guy and gal.

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Joe and his armored New Testament were in Bastogne that Christmas.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Dec 25, 2005

December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve...

SWWBO and I are off to spend Christmas with the Old Vet and his Lady, as well as the Armorer-Sister and her family. We may or may not check in much. The Old Vet has not yet discovered the joys of cable modemry and wireless.

Bill - if you notice the Christmas Posts aren't posted, publish 'em, wouldja?

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by Michael Marks

I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
And looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.

The laundry wasn't finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Chargers lost by six.

And so with only minutes till my son got home from school
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.

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SC 5048. Christmas dinner of enlisted men at Valdahon, 1917.

The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
And so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.

I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.

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SC 163532. A 1942 Santa arriving by tank instead of outdated sleigh. Sgt. Hiram Prouty playing Santa for British children. Dec 5, 1942. Perham Downs, England. M.3. Tank of 1st Tank Group. Sgt. Prouty, member of 175th Inf.

And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
Eight Humvees ran a column right behind an M1A.

A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.

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SC 196443-S. Pfc. Edmund Dill opens the Christmas package received from his wife. His buddies share the treat. Left, Pfc. Carl Anker; Right, Sergt. Ted Bailey. ETO, 11/18/44

They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
Their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.

Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again,

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SC 262132. 25 Dec 1944. Sgt. Edward F. Good feeds his buddy a leg of Christmas turkey, Pfc. Lloyd Deming. Both are casualties at the 2nd Field Hosp, (San Jose, Mindoro, PI)

There wasn't much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease,
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs.

They didn't have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn't need an ornament--they lacked a Christmas tree.

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SC 197242. Seated at a box in a storehouse for artillery shells, in Germany, Pvt. Walter E. Prsybyla, member of the 2nd Infantry Division, addresses Christmas cards to the folks back home. 11/30/44. B Btry, 37th FA, 2nd Inf. Div., FUSA, Heckhalenfeld, Germany.

They didn't have a present even though it was tradition,
The only boxes I could see were labeled "ammunition."

I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side,
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I

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SC 387038. Men of Co "F", 9th Inf Regt, 2nd U.S. Inf Div, enjoy their Christmas Day dinner at CO HQS, Korea. 25 December 1951.

I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
And kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.

"There's nothing wrong, my little son, for safe we sleep tonight
Our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,

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CC 73569. Vietnam…The Army Band plays Christmas music at the Tan Son Nhut Airbase during the holiday season. 22-29 Dec 1970.

To worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
Instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall."

He looked at me as children do and said, "It's always right,
To thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write."

And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
To thank the many far from home and this is what we wrote:

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"God bless you all and keep you safe and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you're not alone.

The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can't repay."

Michael Marks: "I freely submit this poem for reprint without reservation--this is an open and grateful tribute to the men and women who serve every day to keep our nation safe." Ergo, used with permission!

And we would be remiss if we were to neglect our Canadian Brothers-in-Arms, who serve alongside us in Afghanistan and do stand in harms way.

Be Safe, everybody. And God Bless You, Each and Every One! Especially you Atheists, who can't mind...! But especially the Denizen/nes, to whom we may add a few officially for the New Year. Whether they want to be associated with us or not...

And may there be none of this, today and tomorrow.

by John on Dec 24, 2005
» CDR Salamander links with: Sunday (Christmas) Funnies & Goodies

December 23, 2005

America Supports you...

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Thousands of Christmas wreaths are nestled against headstones in Section 27 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., on Dec. 15, 2005. Hundreds of volunteers gathered at Arlington to place more than five thousand donated Christmas wreaths on head stones in the cemetery. The 14th annual wreath laying event is a result of Worcester Wreath Company owner Morrill Worcester's boyhood dream of doing something to honor those laid to rest in the National Cemetery. DoD photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

And the living -

America Supports You: Company Decorates Military Families' Homes By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA American Forces Press Service WASHINGTON, Dec. 22, 2005 – A professional decorating company aimed to make this holiday season a little brighter for military families by donating Christmas decorations to more than 30 families of deployed servicemembers. Christmas Decor, a Texas-based company that specializes in designing and installing outdoor holiday decorations, chose the families from more than 200 applicants across the country and gave them a customized decoration display, said Brandon Stephens, director of marketing for Christmas Decor.

The whole thing is here. You should drop by and say thank you. [note to trolls: If you hate what they're doing, buzz off, it's their money and time.]

by John on Dec 23, 2005

December 22, 2005

Recently, in 2005...

A little photo essay...

...lest, with my recent emphasis on the Battle of the Bulge, you think I'm being neglectful of something else, just as important...

Click here for some background music.

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Alpha Company, 1-151 FA , 720th Military Police soldier reacts to small arms fire during a search mission in Al Madain, Baghdad, Iraq, 20 September, 2005. U.S. Army Photo by SPC Gul A. Alisan (Released)

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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chuck Hipple, Charlie Troop 4-14th Cavalry 2nd Platoon, Fort Wainwright, Alaska, cleans his weapon on the Stryker vehicle prior to providing an over watch while Army and Marines look for weapons cache and people that oppose the coalition forces east of the Syrian boarder by the Euphrates River, during Operation Clydesdale, during Operation Iraqi Freedom Oct 01, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway) (Released)

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U.S. Army Specialist Anthony Noger, 82nd Airborne Division, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Bravo Company, 1st Battallion, Fort Bragg N.C., watches a door whle on patrol in Tal Afar, Iraq on Sept. 15, 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. James L. Harper Jr. (Released)

Just as in 1944 we were trying to reach this - and make it stick...

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So too in 2005 we are reaching for this... and making it stick.

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by John on Dec 22, 2005

December 15, 2005

Christmas Cards

The Armorer and SWWBO generally don't do Christmas Cards. Go to visit SWWBO's place and you'll see part of the reason. We appreciate the ones we get (Thanks, Flea!) but, we just don't do cards. This place is my card, I think.

This year, we made an exception. I keep meaning to post this, but reality keeps nipping at my toes. Jim C just reminded me.

I'm sure many of you are currently writing cards to friends and family. If you can, please send an extra one (or 10, or 20) to our American military heroes who are recuperating from wounds this Christmas season. Please enclose a short note thanking them for their service and personal sacrifice. They are the protectors of our freedom, and we must let them know how much they are appreciated. The address for this is -

A Recovering American Soldier
c/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

Please pass this information on to others that would be willing to send cards.

by John on Dec 15, 2005

December 14, 2005

Follow up...

Deb of Marine Corps Moms following up from this post:

After a whirlwind of a weekend, the boxes have been mailed and the living room is back in order. I mailed about 400 pounds of holiday treats - individual holiday bags filled with food, socks, and handwarmers; and boxes filled with stuff for the guys to share. They'll get beefsticks, cheese, some excellent chocolate, and other candy, plus hot chocolate and spiced cider mix and other stuff that seemed like a really good idea. It wouldn't have happened on the scale it did without your support and I'm so appreciative of your support. I'm hoping for pictures and I'll share. :-)


We'll hold you to the share part, Deb!

To all who helped, whether you told us about it or not, thank you very much!

by John on Dec 14, 2005

December 11, 2005

It's been a long year...

...and we've been diggin' in your pockets a lot. Believe me, I know. I sit on the board of a large charity (no, not United Way) and we're seeing the impact of donor fatigue this year.

That said, here's one more. Give up a sixpack. C'mon.

Please forgive the mass e-mail. I've never done it before but this is for our deployed troops. For the last 3 months, volunteers all over the country are making sure that our Marines receive a touch of home for Christmas. We've sent over 12,000 hand sewn Christmas stockings filled with food, games, socks, handwarmers, and other useful items. In addition, we've sent boxes filled with candy, beefsticks, cheese, DVDs, board games, and other things for the guys to share. For troops stationed on the Syrian border and who have been eating MREs for 7 months, we sent pancake mix, syrup and griddles, so that the Battalion Commanders could throw a pancake feed for their Marines. Little things, compared to what they're doing for us. We have no corporate sponsors and we are funded through the donations of parents and military supporters.

On Friday, I got an emergency request from an Army contact who has been in contact with the 1107th AVCRAD, a company of 250 soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their MWR dollars didn't come through and they are facing a bleak holiday. If I priority mail packages tomorrow, there is a high probability that they will get them by Christmas. I've received $500 in funding from a couple of parents, and that might be enough to mail part of the packages. But, I still need to buy the stuff to put in the packages. While I won't have individual Christmas stockings, I do have holiday decorated Ziploc baggies and am trying to fill 250 today. If you could put out an appeal to your readers to help fund this final request, it would be so appreciated. If folks want a tax deduction, they can hit the Paypal button at the Marine Corps Family Foundation site.

[The Armorer recommends you skip that one (unless you're going large) and choose the next option.]

If they don't need a receipt, they can use the Paypal button on my site: Marine Corps Moms. Those funds would be immediately available to me instead of waiting. (Connie holds the checkbook for our foundation and she's out of town until next week.) I've been using my own money, thinking that I can fundraise later, but I think filling this request is going to exceed what I can do personally. Each of you have readerships on your websites that I will never achieve. If you could link to the following post on my site:

Click right here.

or just mention it on your site, I would so appreciate it. And, I'll let you know how it turns out.

Deb Conrad
Proud Marine Mom

Yer forgiven, Deb.

Cmon - help a Marine Mom help a Dogface soljer. I guess the emphasis there is on... Mom.

And don't forget - despite hurricanes, Voice-activated laptops, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, and the war... the needs that exist day-to-day in your community are still there. Locally, the Salvation Army is at 1/3 the level they were last year for Bell Ringing. The charity I work with spent our reserves to meet this years needs (hey, that what it's for!)

Remember one advantage of giving over letting the government handle it via taxation... the money you give to local agencies stays local. Just sayin'.

C'mon, a sixpack-equivalent of brew or soda ain't gonna kill ya. In fact, if you truly sacrifice and pass on it... it *might* do ya some good!

Me? I'm giving at least a 12-pack of Newcastle Equivalent.

Update: I put my money where my blog is. So did SWWBO (two separate donations, too). How about you? And as far as I can tell- the receipt here should stand up to an IRS question.

C'mon Denizens. Pony up. Shame me for being cheap. But prove it. Like this.

Dear John Donovan,

This email confirms that you have paid ( $25.00 USD using PayPal.
Payment Details

Transaction ID: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Sales Tax: $0.00 USD
Total: $25.00 USD
Item/Product Name: Marine Corps Moms
Buyer: John Donovan
Message: Here ya go, Deb.



And Deb Insta-Responds:

Thank you so much. I'll use the $25 to buy more handwarmers - the guys love them and your donation will buy about 550 hours of heat. In the mountains of Afghanistan, that's one of the best gifts you can give. :-) Have a wonderful Christmas.

Deb Conrad
Proud Marine Mom

by John on Dec 11, 2005
» Voteswagon links with: Last Minute Help for the Troops…Please!
» The Gantry Launchpad links with: Christmas for the guys overseas
» The Gantry Launchpad links with: Christmas for the guys overseas

December 10, 2005

Orders #12-10-01.00

All personnel are ordered to go Heartless Libertarian and read this.

Failure to comply will have consequences.

That is all.

by John on Dec 10, 2005
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: A Must Read

November 25, 2005

On Giving Thanks...

...each day, not just on Thanksgiving. Celebrate quietly, thoughtfully. It needn't take long and requires no lengthy preparation.

Give thanks that we live in a country with people like these:

SangerM, whose comment on Americans a couple of posts down was too good not to give wider exposure...

That we are so rich in every imaginable way, and that we can travel around the world in fantastic machines of our own making and deliver food and other aid to people on mountains and in valleys, and everywhere, and that we can do it again, and again, and again... That we don't care if those people can read or write or speak our language; nor what their religion is, or their color, or even if they like us all that much. We just do it because it is the right thing to do. . .

. . . Because it is the right thing to do.

...and another.

Slow Hand salute for a brave young man, unafraid to answer his nation's call, willing to give the last full measure of devotion in defense of our freedom and way of life. Please pray for him and his family in their time of grief.

1st Lt. Dennis W. Zilinski, 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry, 3rd BCT, 101st Airborne Division. Killed in action 19 November, 2005, in one of two separate IED attacks on US combat operational patrols in the vicinity of Bayji, Iraq.

I am deeply saddened at this young man's death. It has brought back all the repressed memories of comrades lost in another war, another time.

How fortunate we are that we have men such as this. How very painful it is when we lose them. God Bless and keep you, Dennis. Farewell.

Jim Ewart
162 AHC
Vulture 29
Can Tho 69-70

Two-Niner and I have sounded our own Taps earlier, in private--but in keeping with Castle tradition, now is the time when we dance In Memoriam.

Friends await him on his journey...

by CW4BillT on Nov 25, 2005

November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Interesting, if currently not useful, factoids.

Not counting our time on Blogspot, our server logs indicate:

934,123 unique visitors.

2,079,785 visits (does not include webbots, etc).


Hey! No politics on this post! Lea'me 'lone!

by John on Nov 24, 2005

Wartime Thanksgiving Proclamations

President's Thanksgiving Day 2005 Proclamation
By the President of the United States of America

November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember our many blessings and to celebrate the opportunities that freedom affords. Explorers and settlers arriving in this land often gave thanks for the extraordinary plenty they found. And today, we remain grateful to live in a country of liberty and abundance. We give thanks for the love of family and friends, and we ask God to continue to watch over America.

This Thanksgiving, we pray and express thanks for the men and women who work to keep America safe and secure. Members of our Armed Forces, State and local law enforcement, and first responders embody our Nation's highest ideals of courage and devotion to duty. Our country is grateful for their service and for the support and sacrifice of their families. We ask God's special blessings on those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

We also remember those affected by the destruction of natural disasters. Their tremendous determination to recover their lives exemplifies the American spirit, and we are grateful for those across our Nation who answered the cries of their neighbors in need and provided them with food, shelter, and a helping hand. We ask for continued strength and perseverance as we work to rebuild these communities and return hope to our citizens.

We give thanks to live in a country where freedom reigns, justice prevails, and hope prospers. We recognize that America is a better place when we answer the universal call to love a neighbor and help those in need. May God bless and guide the United States of America as we move forward.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2005, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.


Now for a few other wartime proclamations:

By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

...In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union...

...I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

...The skies have been for a time darkened by the cloud of war, but as we were compelled to take up the sword in the cause of humanity we are permitted to rejoice that the conflict has been of brief duration and the losses we have had to mourn, though grievous and important, have been so few, considering the great results accomplished, as to inspire us with gratitude and praise to the Lord of Hosts...



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

It has long been the honored custom of our people to turn in the fruitful autumn of the year in praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God for His many blessings and mercies to us as a nation. That custom we can follow now even in the midst of the tragedy of a world shaken by war and immeasurable disaster, in the midst of sorrow and great peril, because even amidst the darkness that has gathered about us we can see the great blessings God has bestowed upon us, blessings that are better than mere peace of mind and prosperity of enterprise.



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

God’s help to us has been great in this year of march towards world-wide liberty. In brotherhood with warriors of other United Nations our gallant men have won victories, have freed our homes from fear, have made tyranny tremble, and have laid the foundation for freedom of life in a world which will be free. Our forges and hearths and mills have wrought well; and our weapons have not failed. Our farmers, Victory gardeners, and crop volunteers have gathered and stored a heavy harvest in the barns and bins and cellars. Our total food production for the year is the greatest in the annals of our country...



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

As a Nation much blessed, we feel impelled at harvest time to follow the tradition handed down by our Pilgrim fathers of pausing from our labors for one day to render thanks to Almighty God for His bounties. Now that the year is drawing to a close, once again it is fitting that we incline our thoughts to His mercies and offer to Him our special prayers of gratitude... Especially are we grateful this year for the truce in battle-weary Korea, which gives to anxious men and women throughout the world the hope that there may now be an enduring peace.



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

...Over the years, we have made Thanksgiving a unique national occasion. Thanking God for His goodness, we thank Him as well for the promise and achievement of America. Our reasons for gratitude are almost without number.... Much as we are grateful for these material and spiritual blessings, we are conscious, in this year, of special sorrows and disappointments. We are engaged in a painful conflict in Asia, which was not of our choosing, and in which we are involved in fidelity to a sacred promise to help a nation which has been the victim of aggression. We are proud of the spirit of our men who are risking their lives on Asian soil. We pray that their sacrifice will be redeemed in an honorable peace and the restoration of a land long torn by war...



By the President of the United States : a Proclamation

...As we continue the Thanksgiving tradition, a tradition cherished by every generation of Americans, we reflect in a special way on the blessings of the past year. When this Nation and its coalition partners took up arms in a last-resort effort to repel aggression in the Persian Gulf, we were spared the terrible consequences of a long and protracted struggle. Indeed, the millions of people who prayed for a quick end to the fighting saw those prayers answered with a swiftness and certainty that exceeded all expectations. During the past year, we have also witnessed the demise of communism and welcomed millions of courageous people into the community of free nations.



H/t to the Pilgrim Hall Museum for the text of the Presidential Proclamations, save the 2005 edition.

by John on Nov 24, 2005

November 18, 2005

I hereby resign...

...from adulthood.

I have decided I will henceforth abrogate all responsibilities save for those of an eight-year-old again.

I want to go to Dairy Queen and think it's a four-star restaurant.

I want to sail stick boats across a rain-fresh mud puddle and make a causeway through it with rocks.

I want to think M&Ms are better than money because you can eat them.

I want to lie on the moss growing in the shade of a big oak tree and run a lemonade stand with my friends on a hot summer's day.

I want to return to a time when life was simple, when all you knew were colors, multiplication tables, and nursery rhymes, but that didn't bother you, because you didn't know what you didn't know. And, better yet, you didn't care that you were blissfully unaware of all the things that should make you worried or upset.

I want to believe that the world is fair.

I want to believe that everyone is honest and good.

I want to believe that anything is possible.

I want to be oblivious to the complexities of life and get overly-excited by the little things.

I want to live simply again.

I don't want my days to consist of an endless succession of computer crashes, mountains of paperwork and depressing news in the papers, of trying to figure out how to survive more days in the month than there is money in the bank. I’m bone-weary of coping with doctors’ bills, gossip, illnesses of friends and family and the loss of loved ones.

I want to believe again in the power of smiles, hugs, a kind word, truth, justice, peace, dreams, the imagination, mankind and making angels in the snow.

So -- here's my checkbook and my car keys, my credit card bills and my 401K statements. I am officially resigning from adulthood.

And if you want to discuss this any further, you'll have to catch me first, cuz…

...."Tag! You're it!"

H/t to V29. And thanks again for making it back...

*grin* Rumors abound concerning my last jaunt to the Left Coast. AAR to follow, containing memories of the Micro-Blogfest (including a rare, never-before published pic of Barb and BCR in the same location at the same time, gun pr0n and some miscellaneous--uhhhhh--miscellany.

by CW4BillT on Nov 18, 2005
» Blog o'RAM links with: Nature Abhors or What Would Glenn Do?
» Blog o'RAM links with: Nature Abhors or What Would Glenn Do?
» Stop The ACLU links with: Sunday Funnies

November 15, 2005

Regional Heroes.

Both Specialist Howe, whom you've heard of, and the Patriot Guard, sworn to protect families from the despicable weasels of the Рhelps Phamily and their ilk.

Folks, I wrote this when I returned home last Friday evening, Veterans' Day; I had tried to tell my wife about what a day I'd had, but couldn't get it done because of the emotions, so I wrote it down. XXXXXX pressed me to send it to the Beatrice, NE paper, which I did, and I have shared it with the Patriot Guard and gotten a lot of positive feedback. I thought that you might appreciate the message. Specialist Darren Howe died as a result of injuries sustained when the BFV he was driving was damaged by an IED; his own injuries were worsened because he tried to free other soldiers from the back of the burning vehicle even while his own clothing was burning. He must have been a fine young man, but what made such a great impact on me was his home town. Mike __________________________________________________________________

This Veterans' Day, I attended the funeral of a man I never met, and it was the most meaningful Veteran's Day of my life, and I am changed by it.

Army Specialist Darren Howe died serving his country. He carried the fight to our enemies on their turf, and thereby kept them from having the mobility to mount attacks on our Homeland. He was a Patriot of the highest order, who willingly and selflessly assumed the risks associated with going in harm's way. And at the point of greatest personal need, he acted heroically, sacrificially, to help save his brothers in arms.

Darren was by all accounts a superior young man. Husband, father, son, brother, Patriot; Hero. There are many such young men and women in the United States military forces.

What made this day so special was what I learned first-hand about America.

I myself, as a Veteran and a member of the American Legion initiative called the Patriot Guard, traveled close to 400 miles round-trip to both honor Darren and to protect his family and friends from the potential appearance of the loutish cultists from Topeka, KS, whom I will not name. I joined in this 'mission' with many other Veterans and friends of Veterans. But, our presence was only what should be done.

The community response was overwhelming. Darren was clearly a beloved son of the community of Beatrice, Nebraska, and loved all the more for his sacrifice on their behalf; this town understood. As the funeral procession left the church enroute to the cemetery, we old Veterans, with as many National Flags mounted on our motorcycles as we could find places to secure them, were included in the long line of vehicles; we almost need not have bothered. Hundreds, thousands of people lined the processional route, everyone with their own Flag; large house flags, small hand-held flags, but nonetheless bravely thrust high in honor. Entire school classes, solemnly watching Darren pass; I didn't see a single instance of inappropriate behavior out of hundreds of children along the route. Old Veterans, saluting and young children, saluting. Uncountable numbers with hands over hearts. Two young girls, 10 to 12 years old or so, stand out in my mind, holding the Colors and saluting with the left hand; not even my old drill sergeant would have corrected them, for he'd have seen their serious expression and the sincerity in their eyes, and known that those salutes were every bit as 'proper' as any ever rendered.

In lieu of a Veterans' Day parade, historically rooted in Armistice Day and generally 'looking back' in focus, Beatrice honored one of its youth, just lost; but in so doing, they also paid the highest honor possible to all of those who've gone before. They showed that they understood. They don't take their freedoms for granted. They recognize, and honor, those who paid the price for those freedoms.

My own heart quaked with emotion, during the processional and throughout the graveside service. I was seeing, first-hand, a slice of the American Spirit.

Theodore O'Hara penned a poem to honor fellow Kentuckians killed in the 1846 Mexican War, portions of which are inscribed on placards throughout Arlington and other National Cemeteries. On Arlington's McClellan Gate is the verse, "ON FAMES ETERNAL CAMPING GROUND THEIR SILENT TENTS ARE SPREAD, AND GLORY GUARDS WITH SOLUMN ROUND THE BIVOUAC OF THE DEAD". It's more clear to me than ever before, after this Veterans' Day, that the fame and the glory are offered by the living, the beneficiaries of the sacrifices made. I'm a Veteran of Viet Nam, and my brothers and sisters from that conflict will perhaps understand this better than many others, but while I've celebrated Veterans' Day for my Dad, a World War II Veteran, I've been a bit of a cynic overall about this holiday; this Veterans' Day however, while celebrating the life and honoring the sacrifice of another soldier, I truly felt 'Welcomed Home'. Veterans' Day isn't an event; it's a state of mind, and I know more certainly that, in these United States, not only the Greatest Generation of the World War II era understands that.

I pray that God welcome Darren Howe into Heaven, that He bless Darren's loved ones with comfort as they deal with their loss, that He bless the community of Beatrice and all such 'Heartland' communities wherever they are located, and that God continue to bless America.

H/t Charles B, via Robin G.

by John on Nov 15, 2005

November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day 2005.

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You *really* want to honor a Vet? Then do this. Donate. Again, if you have already. So more scenes like this can happen.

It's a tax-deductible donation and eligible for matching funds from companies who do that sort of thing (see: for proof for the cautious)

The snail mail address for those who'd rather donate that way (scroll down at:

Bill got you ready yesterday, so I'll pick up the flag today.

Today we celebrate the living. The survivors. We honor the dead in May. Except today we honor the dead, too. We can't help it. The bonds of combat soldiery are tightest because of those who went with us but didn't come back, they took the low road while we took the high. Most of us have an "absent companion" or four that we drink to, when the time is right. Today it will be right. I have 14 that I will drink to. 14 little shots of tequila. Actually, I won't do it tonight when I get home, either. I spread 'em out between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. My father doesn't even try. If he toasted all his ghosts, his liver would rip itself out of his belly and run.

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We have bonds. Bonds that sometimes our closest family don't understand. Why does Grampa Joe keep bailing that wino out of trouble? Because that wino lost two fingers tossing a grenade out of a two-man fighting position during the a vicious night fight on Guadalcanal, that's why. Because that stranger that Dad greets like a long lost brother once a year is, in fact, a long lost brother, who shared the exhilaration of the night combat drop on Point Salines. Because the quiet guy you've never seen before extracted your Dad's best friend's body from a helicopter crash in Mogadishu by cutting off his legs - so that no man would be left behind. Because that guy over there negotiated with Aideed to get the legs back.

(To save space for Dial-up visitors, the remainder of this post has been moved to the Flash Traffic/Extended entry.)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Nov 11, 2005
» Overtaken by Events links with: Present Arms
» Garfield Ridge links with: Veteran's Day.
» Conservative Thinking links with: Veteran's Day
» The Military Outpost links with: Veteran's Day 2005
» La Shawn Barber's Corner links with: “.. to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic…”
» Dust my Broom links with: As seen at Vimy
» The Uncooperative Blogger links with: Happy Veterans Day!
» The Uncooperative Blogger links with: A Veterans Day Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
» Don Surber links with: Veterans Day
» Stop The ACLU links with: Veterans Day Open Trackbacks
» Security Watchtower links with: Around the Blogs on Veterans Day
» CatHouse Chat links with: Veterans' Day, 2005
» Jack Yoest links with: Three Misconceptions About The Military
» scoopstories links with: Thinking About Veterans
» Iraq War Today links with: Veterans' Day 2005
» A Blog For All links with: Veterans Day 2005
» Balance Sheet links with: Veterans Day - Emotionally Moving

November 08, 2005

Most heroes aren't obvious.

They just live next door. And you don't think about it until they're gone, usually.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

by John on Nov 08, 2005

October 23, 2005

23 October, 1983.

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Click here.

There are words to Taps.

Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lake,
From the Hill,
From the sky.
All is well,
Sleep tonight.
God is nigh.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance, In Memoriam.

by John on Oct 23, 2005

October 18, 2005

Fair winds and a following sea, Captain.

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051010-N-7559C-001 Monterey, Calif. (Oct. 10, 2005) – Enlisted members and support officers assigned to the U.S Navy flight demonstration team, the "Blue Angels," stand in ranks outside the Ford Old Main Chapel in Monterey, Calif., as the team’s F/A-18A Hornets perform a missing man formation following a memorial service that honors the life of retired Navy Capt. Roy M. “Butch” Voris. Voris, the original flight leader of the Blue Angels and Naval Aviation Hall of Fame member, passed away in his home in Monterey, Calif., on Aug. 10, 2005 at 86 years old. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Ryan Courtade (RELEASED)

More here, from Echo9er.

H/t Castle Adjutant Barb.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Oct 18, 2005
» Neptunus Lex links with: Ave atque vale, frater

October 13, 2005

Heh. Just heh.

I know what she means. Perzackly.

For a while the guns thunder, the crew eager to serve the piece...

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And send their missiles downrange in righteous wrath...

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But eventually, the rage subsides, or the message is delivered, the mission accomplished, the target destroyed or in disarray... Or, sometimes, the bastards just grind you down, and the guns fall silent.

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Which is why this place has been changing over the last few months.

by John on Oct 13, 2005
» The Politburo Diktat links with: RINO Update
» Cafe Oregano links with: Weekend Buffet

October 10, 2005

For someone who needs some distraction right now.

You know who you are.

6 inch guns on the HMS Belfast.

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Belgian Fortress Gun.

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Because you, of all people, will appreciate a picture of a literally mindless soldier doing mindless work... operating a belt-filling machine.

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The guts of a T-54, after the Finn museum people got ahold of it...

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Here's a chit for a free one at Fiddler's Green...

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Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam of a Veteran of the 20th Air Force, Saipan. Load a drum for me, Sergeant.

And no, everybody, it isn't someone you know. There are at least a few degrees of separation for most of you.

by John on Oct 10, 2005

September 29, 2005

Been here, done this - but only in peacetime.

It's a tough job, no matter when.

CSA Sends: "Dear Casualty Notification Officer"

Names elided by me.

by John on Sep 29, 2005
» Random Fate links with: Much sadness…
» My Side of the Puddle links with: Time for some linky-lovin

September 26, 2005

Big sigh.

Good call, Coach. Really.

Agent 86, aka Don Adams, USMCR, has passed to Fiddler's Green. Lieutenant Albert, et. al., await.

Snerk! That ain't the Oktoberfest I remember. Mardi Gras in New Orleans, perhaps, but not Munich!

by John on Sep 26, 2005

September 11, 2005


Take a moment, ponder the event and the impact it's had on our lives - 9/11 echoes in the response to Katrina.

Remember the Day...

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and that while we fight...

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We also build - and in some cases, fight so we *can* build.

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Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, build playground equipment at a local school yard in northern Baghdad.

Sometimes, we build simply because we can, and someone needs the help.

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Spc. Elizabeth Ferguson, from the 244th Engineer Battalion, 651st Area Support Group, helps to build a school in Los Higos, Panama, during a humanitarian mission.

Now, get back to the work at hand.

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U.S. Army Guardsmen from the 890th Engineering Battalion A-Company Picayune, Miss., clear debris from the beach while in Biloxi, Miss., during humanitarian relief efforts in support of Joint Task Force Katrina, Sept. 4, 2005. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. James M. Bowman)

If you want to do something 9/11-related... from the left or the right, up or down on the issue... offer input on the Flight 93 Memorial plan, and/or the WTC Memorial.

Lastly, I'll listen to anybody who wants to talk about improving the structuring of response to disasters of this magnitude. What I won't do, however, is listen to such advice delivered sneeringly from some European lips when they wouldn't even take a break from vacation as tens of thousands died in the very slow-rolling disaster of their heat wave...


Righty in a Lefty State
The Middle Ground
Random Fate
Sergeant B.
Fuzzilicious Thinking
My Army Life

Special Buds:

Neptunus Lex
Blonde Sagacity

The Best of the Rest: Others blogging 9/11 today if you haven't had enough already... this list was shamlessly stolen from Sister Toldjah - who you should visit before any of these other guys.

Captain Ed

Winds of Change

The Political Teen

Brian at Iowa Voice


Jim at bRight and Early


Beth at My VRWC

Jay at Stop the ACLU

Cao’s Blog

Patrick Ruffini


Lorie Byrd

Michele Catalano

Across the Atlantic


California Yankee

James Joyner

Bill Quick

Cox and Forkum


J Rob

Gay Patriot

Neddy Kerfuffles

Rick Moran



Alan L. Nelson

My Pet Jawa


Mister Snitch

Rob at Say Anything

The Patriette

Southern Appeal

Jon Schaff at South Dakota Politics

Hugh Hewitt

Sparks From The Anvil

Ann Althouse

Ankle Biting Pundits


Publius Rendezvous

(Hey, I did at least remember to edit myself out of it)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Sep 11, 2005
» Sister Toldjah links with: Remembering 9-11-01
» Stop The ACLU links with: September 11th Remembered
» CatHouse Chat links with: Four years ago - never forget
» The Gun Line links with: Remembrance...
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Remembering 9/11
» Fuzzilicious Thinking links with: Thoughts on 9-11
» Donkey Stomp links with: Remember September 11, 2001
» Speed of Thought links with: Remembering...
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol

September 08, 2005

Helping out with Katrina's aftermath.

You've given money, perhaps food and clothing (more of that stuff will be needed later, too). You are thinking you'd like to go help out down there, but you just can't. After all, you have kids, a job, all of that.

And you are right.

But, you don't *have* to go down there. Chances are, especially if you are in a larger metropolitan area, you can help - just as effectively - Right Where You Live.

I sit on the board of a large regional charity in the Kansas City area. Here is what I'm talking about... Right Here In KC - and it's true in your city, too.

Just attended a gathering of social service providers, including the City of Kansas City, FEMA, and many United Way member agencies including Catholic Charities, at the KCMO United Way offices concerning help for Evacuees. The following points seem to reflect the consensus:

Every Evacuee should register with FEMA, preferably on line-

Or call FEMA 1 800-621-FEMA (3362)

If in the Kansas City region, Evacuees should also register with the American Red Cross, 816 931 6662 x 7030 or register in person with the Red Cross at the Gregg Center at 1600 E 17th Terr KCMO

Red Cross will give vouchers for 10 days of hotel lodging.

FEMA will provide vouchers for 3 months of rent.

The city of Kansas City is working to accumulate Section 8 qualified housing. Vouchers from the Gulf Coast will be honored in the Kansas City region.

People impacted by the hurricane are reluctant to leave to come to new communities like Kansas City or St. Louis. Numbers are unclear but about "375 cases" locally have registered so far with the Red Cross, about "300 families." Some families are not in the numbers who have been accommodated by extended family, Churches and others.

To Volunteer, call
Catholic Charities (913)621-5255 x 167,
Red Cross (816) 931-6662 x 7030
Heart of America United Way (816) 474-5112

To enroll property you own in the database of local housing stock, register on line at

The Gregg Center needs greeters, gift baskets, health workers, drivers to help families get to hotels and to do shopping, Case Managers and other Volunteers.

It is too early to start receiving other donations of in-kind goods, at least locally. Eventually, food, clothing and furniture will be needed, along with employment.

Catholic Charities will help sort housing opportunities for Evacuees, but at present there are not many opportunities for home-sharing. At least 500 families in the Archdiocese are willing to share their homes as needs arise.

Catholic Charities will also provide Counseling, Nursing, Case Management, Food and clothing and furniture from TurnStyles.

Some Evacuees will have multiple needs beyond housing and employment. Home sharing will not be an appropriate alternative for some Evacuees who have additional needs.

The process could take 18 months.

Eventually families will need sponsorship in individual apartments after the FEMA funds expire, and help with utilities, jobs, transportation.

Catholic Charities, both Missouri and Kansas working together, will continue to assess local needs on a daily basis.

Please call me with questions and ideas and pass this email along.

Mark Henke
Catholic Charities, Catholic Community Services
2220 Central Ave
Kansas City KS 66102-4797

Regardless of your religious affiliation (I'm not Catholic, btw - and it doesn't matter, because Catholic Charities delivers service based on need alone) if you live in the KC area and blog - link to, or swipe the contents of this post and spread the word, please?

If you don't live in the KC area... this is also happening in your area. And as the evacuees arrive throughout the country, this scene is repeating itself over and over. And you can have a direct, material impact, and still go to work, and sleep in your own bed at night, take care of your children, and pay your bills.

At the same time - consider this - the needs that existed in your communities *before* Katrina hit, are just as valid now - which means that if you are able (and local volunteering is a way to do this) we need to go *beyond* our normal bounds, not just displace from one area to another. And if your budget has surrendered what it can... you can still give *time*.

Just like these bloggers do.

by John on Sep 08, 2005

August 31, 2005

Normal blogging will continue...

This space (at least for me) is *not* going to become "All Katrina, all the time." We'll leave that to the news bloggers, bloggers in the area, and those who have sources.

That shouldn't be taken as we don't care.

We've got the donate button up, in a post *and* in the sidebar, and SWWBO and I have made, and will continue to make, targeted donations. And while we'll leave the Project Valour-IT button up, we won't be flogging that as hard now, either. Frankly, the rescue and clean-up from Katrina is more important in the near term.

Food for thought, however. As someone who sits on the board of a significant local charity, it will be a chore keeping up the needed cashflow to support the day-to-day local work, as people's charitable dollars understandably and usefully flow to the South. I'm not going to make the job any harder!

That's a simple reality.

Consider that as you scrape up spare change for Katrina victims - the needs in your local community don't diminish. If all you do is skip a movie, DVD rental, night out a month, you don't sacrifice much at all, and the local charities can do great things. Keep that in mind - there are a *lot* of people who will be sacrificing and suffering in the weeks and months ahead - but most of you who read this won't be among that group. $5 in the right place goes a looong way in the right hands. Don't just give to the disaster de jour, give locally! And yes, give more than you are used to. We're at war, we've just had the equivalent of an Army march through Louisiana and Mississippi, and you *still* have the local day-to-day needs of your communities. How many of you look at your parents/grandparents through the lens of the "Greatest Generation"? You know what made them that? They went through trying times, pulled together, and did what needed to be done. Guess what? Now is that time for us. We may not have to give as much as they did - but we should certainly give.

Oddly enough in my experience - the people who will feel it the most... also give the most, sometimes in absolute terms, not relative.

That said, I may, however, have my head explode over tripe like the German newspapers and government officials are putting out, or this little gem from RFK, Jr, where he blames Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, for the hurricane. *As if* the Kyoto Protocol is a magic wand that if ratified, would have *prevented* the hurricane, or reduced it's severity, this early in Kyoto's intended lifecycle... not that the purported effects at the far end of the Protocol are all that impressive. The Protocol is more a piece of 'feel good' legislation that has costs far outweighing any putative benefits accruing therefrom, than it is a piece of good science.

The staggering damage totals have far more to do with the increasing urbanization of the coasts, and the gamble that New Orleans has *always* been, than it is a product of the weather patterns.

A lack of historical perspective on hurricane patterns over time, and local government happy to have the people and tax revenues, land owners and developers wanting to make a buck - but no one willing to impose any sane restrictions on type of construction and where construction will be allowed. I'm all for the free market and making a buck - but sometimes we need to take mother nature into account, too - or not whine about it. I live in tornado country, and my house reflects that reality, as does my insurance. Just sayin' that when we rebuild, let's do it smartly, and not just recreate what we had in place last Friday. Let's rebuild it with an eye to yesterday...

If we aren't willing to impose any controls, then we get to pay the piper. Of course there's a balance to be struck... but short-sighted local and state public officials who can't see beyond the next election - and the public which punishes them for trying, are as much to blame here as the President. And guess what, Bobby Junior... they haven't all been Republicans.

Update: As Boudicca notes, even though New Orleans is going to be the spotlight, don't forget Mississippi and Alabama.

by John on Aug 31, 2005

August 30, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

Skip that trip to McDonald's. Skip a meal, send the money to the Red Cross. (click the Red Cross logo).


I already did. Enough for the next two weeks of lunch, and prolly more after payday.

Or any other charity you prefer. We did it for the Tsunami, let's do it for our own, this time.

Update: Chuck Simmins has a list of other ways to donate.

$10,000,000 so far. Mebbe you're going to be partially wrong, Mike!

by John on Aug 30, 2005

August 09, 2005

*tap, tap* Izzis thing on?

Um, Big-Tribble-With-Legs ast me to see if t'ere is anyone out t'ere willin' to do some graphics work for the Upcoming Project?

An' he wants ta know if anyone wants ta sign up early!

If ya wan' ta be a plank holder of t'is effort ta help da wounded soljers what can't use t'er paws so well, send yer enlistment forms to Too bad dey don't have tails, ya kin t'ype wit' a tail! Like me!

Many jobs r' 'vailable! Fuzzy n' Bill's gon' need pipple ta do stuff on t'eir blogs, like gettin' da werd out, and runnin' contests, and ya kin always just, well, y'know, give... when da time comes 'n we're ready. An t'ey need a kewl logolishus grap'ical t'ingy!

So, be a trendy type 'n jine early!

Me? I'm gon' go back ta groomin' mese'f and lookin ouda winder and pesterin' the Exterior Guard! 'Specially the little tricksy one...

by Barnacle on Aug 09, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Fusileers : Project Valour IT needs YOU

August 07, 2005

Blog Hiatus.

I just realized that this thing is taking up too much of my life, at least at the moment. Work, personal, hell, sleep, sometimes. And I find myself talking in circles, and wondering what I'm going to put up tomorrow to feed the beast. Mind you - you guys aren't the beast - it's me and my ego and the fact that I have that little demon on my back - if I can't do it to the quality I think it oughta be, well, then I don't wanna do it at all. And it's my definition of quality that I'm not making. Perfect being the enemy of good enough. I'm starting to feel like this cannon here.

And there's so much good stuff out there anyway, this corner going dim isn't going to kill anything. Hell, Bill may turn out to be a heckuva show!

I going to be one of those people who just says Enough!

At least for a while.

I'm tired of a$$holes pingspamming, comment spamming, and hotlink-bandwidth-stealing, whether because they don't know any better, or they are just f*cking thieves.

I'm tired of readers with one nerve. I'm tired of whiners. I'm not tired of my buds, mind you - I'll still visit your blogs during my break, no worries. But Bill - if a coupla weeks from now I still feel this way... ya prolly oughta be looking into getting that domain name locked up!

I need a break. So I'm taking one, whatever the cost in traffic and linkage and ecosystem status. Good thing I didn't just decide to do blogads!

And I dunno if I'll come back or not. I might like having time to do something else.

Don't be surprised if this space suddenly 404s.

But if I start feeling like this... I'll be back.

by John on Aug 07, 2005

August 04, 2005

Smokey Smith, VC, RIP.

Canada's Last Surviving Holder of the Victoria Cross no longer survives, having packed his kit and hit the road to Fiddler's Green.

I mentioned Private Smith in this post on the PIAT, the weapon he used during the fight that resulted in his Victoria Cross.

Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his P.I.A.T.(1) Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the P.I.A.T. could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a companion and obtained another P.I.A.T. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine-guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith's comrade was wounded. At a range of thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the P.I.A.T. and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Schmeissers and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out on the road and with his Tommy gun at point-blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith's position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch, he steadfastly held his position, protecting his comrade and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.

The Canadians Militant of the blogs Brigaded under the Red Ensign are noting PIAT Gunner Smith's passing.

Damian at Babbling Brooks.
Andrew, at Bound By Gravity.
Sue, at Turning 30-and-a-Half.
Nicholas at Quotulatiousness.

Of course, Matt at Blackfive is on it.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

H/t to Damian. *Someone* is falling down on their job around here!

by John on Aug 04, 2005

July 26, 2005

Art of the Liberated, Pt II.

For Part I, see post below! In all cases, click on the picture for the full-size version.

New submissions. First, a joint effort from Castle Philosophotrix Kat and the Armorer:

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And two more submissions from Bloodspite of Techography:

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Keep the cards and letters coming in, folks!

by John on Jul 26, 2005

July 22, 2005

Bit by bit... by day, the voices fall silent.

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Last WWII Comanche Code Talker Dies Thursday, July 21, 2005

OKLAHOMA CITY — Charles Chibitty (search), the last survivor of the Comanche code talkers who used their native language to transmit messages for the Allies in Europe during World War II, has died. He was 83.

Most of you have heard of the Navajo Code Talkers, who worked with the Marines in the Pacific. Fewer, far fewer, have heard of the Comanche Code Talkers, who worked with the Army in Europe.

"It's strange, but growing up as a child I was forbidden to speak my native language at school," Chibitty said in 2002. "Later my country asked me to. My language helped win the war and that makes me very proud. Very proud."

I met Mr. Chibitty. He was born about 4 miles away from where I lived when I was stationed at Fort Sill and grew up in the Lawton area and visited now and again. It was on one of his visits that I met him. He told great stories. No doubt his family and the Comanche Nation will miss him. We all should note the passing of simple people who do extraordinary things, then go back to being simple people again.

They are the real heroes.

Celebrities are just curios. They loom over the landscape... yet they mostly are but pale shadows of men and women like Charles Chibitty. Of all the good and bad to come out of the Current Unpleasantness... America has been reminded she can still produce people like Charles Chibitty. A whole new generation.

Hoka Hey! Mr. Chibitty. There is always more... as you are now discovering.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

Morning Sun, at Dawn's Early Light - has all the extra detail about Chief Chibitty you've been asking for!

H/t, Nicholas, the Ghost of a Flea.

Greetings to visitors from The Corner! You might also like the post below this one (heck, you'll like most of the stuff around here) that talks about How To Tell You Are In An Army Town. Poke around, have a good time!

by John on Jul 22, 2005
» Ghost of a flea links with: Charles Chibitty
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
» links with: Last of the Comanche Code Talkers
» Dean's World links with: Last Code Talker Dies
» Dean's World links with: Last Code Talker Dies

July 21, 2005

The "Mark"

Damn all paedophiles and child abusers to a special level of hell. But more about that later.

I was late to work yesterday. More on that later, too.

The Castle, as long time readers will know, is overrun with critters. The Interior Guard, the kitties. The Exterior Guard, the puppies. Chipmunks, squirrels, birds of all types. Frogs of several varieties. Toads. Visiting rabbits. A resident opossum.

All of the Herd found us. We didn't seek them out. We're happy to have them. Even the Skunk Who Lived Under The Porch for two years (thankfully since moved on elsewhere... mebbe because I *sealed* the cave...).

Clearly, there is a mark on the Castle that says, "Safe Haven." Somewhere, somehow. They just *know*.

I've long maintained this, the presence of "The Mark."

Apparently, it works with humans, too. At least children.

Did I mention I was late for work? There I was, gathering up the last bits of stuff that I brought home last night from the Big Project - and the doorbell rings.

That's odd, this time of morning. Cursing to myself, thinking "Damn it's early for the Jehovah's Witnesses/Mormon Missionaries/School Fundraisers to be out!" I head for the door, and open it.

It's a young man. 10, mebbe 11. Slighty flushed and sweaty.

Okay, school fundraiser. Starting early. Warm, muggy day here in Kansas.

I wish.

I ask, "What can I do for you, sir?" (Yes, I do call children "sir" and "ma'am")

"I need to use your phone, may I?"

"What for?" I queried.

"I need to call someone to pick me up," he responds.

Okay, I can deal with that. Off to the living room to pick up a wireless handset. Hand it out to Young Boy on Porch.

He takes the phone, finger poised over the number, but not punching any of them.

"Forget your number?" I enquired, "We can look it up."

Young Boy on Porch looks up at me and says, "I'm running away from home." Heh. That explains flushed and sweaty. He's literally running away from home.

Urk. I do not know Young Boy on Porch. He is *not* a neighborhood kid. Stalling for time, and to 'develop the situation' as we military guys like to say, I conducted some reconnaissance. "And why are you running away?"

"My parents are abusing me."

Urk again. Big Urk. The "Magic Word" that causes credentialed professionals to Have To Call Law Enforcement/Social Services. I'm not a credentialed professional in that regard, but I also don't want to be the Guy Interviewed on TV who says, "But I didn't know!"

Did I mention I really, really, really detest paedophiles and abusers? I do so even more, now. Why? Because of what happened next.

Middle-aged Man Living Alone (for the moment because SWWBO is traveling) said, "Hmmm, I see, why don't you come inside?"

Then, Middle-Aged Man with Masters Degree in Criminal Justice who is Living Alone kicked Middle-Aged Man Living Alone in the metaphysical family jewels and said, "No, you idiot - you can't do that. You don't know enough about this boy and what the situation is. You've got to keep him in the open, in plain sight of everyone, on the porch, where there is no question of *anything*. Or at least lesser chance of being a question. Especially since he used the "A" word and you pretty much have to call the Police or you are putting your ass in a crack, dolt. Yes, it's first and foremost about the kid - but let's not give *anyone* an opportunity to make it about you. Good thing the weather doesn't suck, huh?"

So, I had to tell Young Boy on Porch, "On second thought, let's sit out here, and talk about this." So, we did. As we go through a brief chat, it begins to sound a lot like this is more about Young Boy thinks his parents ask too much of him around the house, and some Youthful Rebellion and perhaps Very Stern Father... but not abuse.

But, Young Boy on Porch used the "A" word. And was at my house. I briefly considered calling the Parents... but, dammit, I didn't know enough about the true situation. So, reluctantly, I called the Police, and relayed the story. Officer Roach (his real name, not a snark) arrived shortly thereafter. Officer Roach is a father of two children about the same age. This is a Good Thing. After Officer Roach shows he's going to be Officer Friendly and Young Boy on Porch is comfortable - I head inside to grab Orange Juice All 'Round.

Officer Roach does an *excellent* job of leading Young Boy on Porch to tell his story over orange juice - without putting words or concepts into Young Boy on Porch's answers or mind. It's clear from shared looks Office Roach and I have that he has reached a similar conclusion to what I have - that this is Not Exactly What It Seems. Which is a good thing. And Officer Roach explains to Young Boy on Porch that he and Young Boy had best get home - because if Young Boy's parents call him in as missing or a runaway - Officer Roach, being advised of that status, is required by law to take Young Boy on Porch to Juvenile Detention, and that would be Bad For All Concerned. Young Boy agrees, and off they go to his home.

I put away the glasses (but I forgot to put away the OJ, dammit!) and headed for work. Where, it turns out, co-workers live in the same neighborhood as Young Boy and pretty much confirm that it's a case of Stern Parent and Young Boy, not abuse. Which I find comforting, as I feel that all around we dodged a bullet today.

But I hate Hate HATE that the paedophiles and abusers, and society's response to them, put me through the little mental dance I did. I didn't mind protecting the kid - I swore an oath to do things like that, and am still bound by it - most especially emotionally, my sense of duty, and honor. But I hate that I had to add the caveat, to protect myself. It eats at me that I had to treat Young Boy on Porch that way, even though I don't think he really noticed. He was too busy realizing that he'd run two or so miles from home... but that going home was going to, well, be a longer journey if too short in time in Officer Roach's car.

I hate you bastards for doing that to me - and that you made me think of me, vice Young Boy - except the whole thing this morning had your pathetic shadows all over it, and hov'ring nearby.

Today, it's hard to just hate the sin, and not also hate the sinner.

One of my friends and co-workers saw the Hand of Providence in it. That Young Boy on Porch had chosen a home where he wouldn't be sucked into some horror - whether abduction or worse, or someone who would over-react and make the problem more complex than it needed to be. And that the Dispatcher sent Officer Roach, a father of two young children and not some Caped Crusader who might have immediately gone the Must Deliver to Juvie route.

I dunno. I'm not sure that Providence works to quite that level of detail - there are an awful lot of children like Shasta Groene, and I had no idea if I was getting into Something Horrendous. Thankfully, for all concerned, I wasn't.

But, I guess I'm glad The Mark is on the house. Or my forehead. Or SWWBO's, or where-ever. And that Young Boy on Porch did choose the Castle.

But dammit, I *still* feel soiled, ever so slightly, because of the perfectly rational ass-covering I did. *DAMN THEM* for the damage they do to the fabric of society.

Dean Esmay touches on this topic, tangentially.

by John on Jul 21, 2005
» Random Fate links with: Such is the way of the world today

July 08, 2005

West Pointers, Baseball Players, heck, anybody who cares.

[N.B. I pulled this bit from the "Morning Reads" post below - for returning visitors, this *is* new stuff. JofA]

Greetings, Castle Regulars and those just passing through,

Things like this pop into my inbox with a sad regularity:

No. 671-05 IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 2, 2005


DoD Identifies Army and Navy Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of eight soldiers and eight sailors who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Soldiers killed were:

Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.

Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.

Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.

Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.

Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.

Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.

Goare, Goodnature, Jacoby, Muralles, Reich, Russell, and Scherkenbach were assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.

Ponder was assigned to the Army's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Sailors killed were:

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.

Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.

Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.

Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.

Healy, Patton and Suh were assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Fontan, Kristensen, Lucas, McGreevy and Taylor were assigned to SEAL Team Ten, Virginia Beach, Va.

All 16 were killed while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard crashed in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province on June 28.

From that list above: Major Steve Reich, someone you should know (hat tip, Jim C.) Don't just skim on by - go read that. Pat Tillman isn't the only soldier to pass up fame and fortune for Service. I don't hold Major Reich above any of the other dead, in this mission or others... but we should note those who sacrificed the easy life for one of service above self. Like Stephen Reich.

There is this, from USASOC (U.S. Army Special Operations Command) - Major Reich's official bio.

But, most importantly, there is this, from Major Reich's friends and classmates (where you are most likely to get the true measure of the man and warrior). I should note I am *not* one of these people, I'm not a graduate of West Point, even, but people near to me are, and this is me doing my bit with my little pulpit.

Subject: Steve Reich Killed in Afghanistan

A good friend of mine was killed in Afghanistan last week. His name was Steve Reich and we graduated from West Point together from the same company. We started Beast Barracks together, were in the same company, and graduated together. Attached is an article written and published on ESPN a couple days ago about Steve – he is one of the greatest baseball pitchers to ever play at West Point (he still holds the record for most wins at the school) and was heavily recruited to play major league ball. He turned them all down and eventually became a Special Operations helicopter pilot. He was on his fourth tour in the Stan when his bird was shot down. He leaves behind a wife, {snipped for privacy considerations}l, and, unfortunately, they were only married about 4 months ago.

I an honestly say that I knew of no one with more honor and courage than Steve Reich. Without a doubt, he was one of the finest soldiers and human beings I have ever had the pleasure to know on this Earth. He will be sorely missed from our ranks.

All my company mates from West Point are getting together to try to form some kind of special memorial for him at West Point – I don’t know all the details of it yet, but I will let you know when I get them.

{snipped for privacy considerations]

The family has also set up a memorial fund in Stephen's honor. The fund will support both the MWR fund of his unit and the Steep Rock Association - a local nature preserve that was special to Stephen. If you would like to make a donation to the fund, you may send a check to the following address:

First National Bank of Litchfield
ATTN: Stephen Reich Memorial Fund
PO Box 391
Washington Depot, CT 06794
If you have any questions on the fund, please call Debbie Swift at 860-868-7386

I did not know his wife {name snipped for privacy considerations] personally, but I have been told through contact with my classmates that she is very appreciative of cards and support from all the people who knew Steve, so if you have a chance, just send her a quick card showing support for our cause in Afghanistan and to reinforce to her what I am sure she already knows: Her husband was a hero and patriot and it is because of him and all the other guys over their risking their lives that we enjoy our freedom. Thanks-


This was further elaborated thusly:

My company-mates from West Point and, now, our whole class are coming together to try to get a memorial set up for him at West Point. Right now, it is down to a decision of whether to put up some kind of plaque/memorial at the USMA Baseball Stadium or possibly name an annual award in his honor going to a baseball player each year at USMA. Possibly both options may come to fruition. If anyone is interested in donating to this cause/memorial, let me know and I will keep you informed of whatever West Point and our class decide to do. Also, his family has set up a memorial fund in Connecticut - the information is below.

Steve was the most honorable man I have ever met and truly deserves these honors - he literally gave up the opportunity to make millions of dollars playing baseball to dedicate (and ultimately give) his life for our safety and freedom.

To conclude the stream:

K - I just got off the phone w/ AOG (Association of Graduates, ed) and they will be getting back to me with the process for setting up an annual award in Steve's name. What I'd like to propose is that we establish an award given to the graduating Baseball player with the top GPA (assuming this does not yet exist). This award would be presented at an annual ODIA awards convocation that Steve's family would be invited to attend.

Now here's the kicker. In order to establish a perpetual award like this, the AOG is indicating that they'd need a minimum initial investment of anywhere between $5-10K (depending on the convocation venue). We can potentially ask the class of '93 to divert some of our current class funds into this effort to help get things started, and I can cover 10-20% of the initial investment depending on the baseline target (whether it's 5 or 10K). However, before we commit to this, I want to ensure that there is enough interest amongst us and Steve's other classmates to be able to meet these investment requirements.

In addition to this award, the AOG has indicated that because steve was KIA, that at some point in the future, his name would be added to a plaque in Cullum Hall.

Bottom line: They need to raise between $5-10K to cover these costs. I really expect they will be able to raise it internally - but if would like to offer any assistance whatsoever, please email me direct and I will coordinate with Eric. They haven't asked for this help. I'm doing this on my own, because if I can't use this pulpit for something like this, just as we did for Spirit of America, well, what the heck, why bother? I'm not expecting an SoA-level response - and you can certainly contribute directly to the Memorial Fund with nary a word to anyone, if that's your druthers. Don't send me anything other than an email - based on the response, I'll coordinate with Major Reich's classmates on how they want to proceed. johnbethd*at*

Thanks for your time and consderation.


John of Argghhh!

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In memoriam.

For those of you with an interest in the SEAL casualties - Matt Heidt at Froggy Ruminations has info you can use. H/t, Banter in Atlanter.

WillyShake of Unconsidered Trifles has more on LCDR Kristensen.

by John on Jul 08, 2005
» Banter in Atlanter links with: More Updates - SEAL Ceremonies / Contributions
» Searchlight Crusade links with: Today's links 2005 07 08 Friday
» Mudville Gazette links with: Dawn Patrol

July 06, 2005

Announcement is made...

Hosting provided by FotoTimeAP Photo By Denis Poroy

No. 679-05
Jul 05, 2005
Department of the Navy Announces the Death of Retired Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale

Retired Navy Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, Medal of Honor recipient, former Viet Nam prisoner of war (POW), naval aviator and test pilot, academic, and American hero died today, July 5, 2005, at his home in Coronado, Calif. He was 81 years old and had been battling Alzheimer's disease.

Born Dec. 23, 1923 in Abingdon, Ill., and a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1947, he is best remembered for his extraordinary leadership as the senior naval officer held in captivity during the Vietnam War. As commanding officer of Carrier Air Group Sixteen flying from the aircraft carrier the USS Oriskany, he was shot down while leading a mission Sept. 9, 1965.

During his 7½-year imprisonment, he was tortured numerous times, forced to wear vise-like heavy leg irons for two years and spent four years in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, he organized the prisoner culture in defiance of regulations forbidding prisoner communication and improvised a cohesive set of rules governing prisoner behavior. Codified in the acronym, BACK U.S. (Unity over Self), these rules gave prisoners a sense of hope, which many credited with giving them the strength to endure their ordeal.

Upon his release in 1973, Stockdale's extraordinary heroism became widely known and he was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1976. A portion of his citation reads: "Stockdale...deliberately inflicted a near mortal wound to his person in order to convince his captors of his willingness to give up his life rather than capitulate. He was subsequently discovered and revived by the North Vietnamese who, convinced of his indomitable spirit, abated their employment ofexcessive harassment and torture of all prisoners of war."

"Vice Adm. Jim Stockdale's legendary leadership and heroic service to the cause of freedom has been an inspiration to our nation," said Secretary of the Navy Gordon England. "His courage and life stand as timeless examples of the power of faith and the strength of the human spirit. Our thoughts are with his devoted family. America and our Navy are eternally grateful and will always remember him."

Upon his retirement from naval service, the secretary of the Navy established the Vice Admiral Stockdale Award for Inspirational Leadership presented annually in both Pacific and Atlantic Fleets. Stockdale held 26 combat awards including two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Distinguished Service Medals, two Purple Hearts and four Silver Star Medals. He is a member of the Navy's Carrier Hall of Fame, The National Aviation Hall of Fame and an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He held 11 honorary doctoral degrees.

"Our Navy is saddened by the loss of Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale, a giant among heroes and a patriarch of ethical leadership," said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Vern Clark. "Adm. Stockdale challenged the human limits of moral courage, physical endurance and intellectual bravery, emerging victorious as a legendary beacon for all to follow. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sybil, his devoted partner in love and life, and the rest of the Stockdale family."

Stockdale will be honored at a memorial service on board the USS Ronald Reagan in his hometown of Coronado, Calif. The service will take place Saturday, July 16. He will be buried with full honors at the U.S. Naval Academy Saturday, July 23. He is survived by his beloved wife Sybil of Coronado, Calif., and his four sons: James of Beaver, Pa.; Sidney of Albuquerque, N.M.; Stanford of Denver, Colo.; Taylor of Claremont, Calif.; and eight grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions should be made to:

U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, 291 Wood Rd., Beach Hall, Annapolis, Md., 21402, telephone: (410) 295-4116.

Monmouth College Fund, 700 E. Broadway, Monmouth, Ill., 61462, telephone: (309) 457-2316/17

Stockdale's biography and additional photos are located on the following Web site: .

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In memoriam.

More on this, later.

by John on Jul 06, 2005

July 01, 2005

Fusileer Alert! and other stuff.

Geldof and Co. will be having Live8. Let's face it, they're going to raise scads of cash. But there *is* an event competing for your dollars... and I encourage you to drop by Brainshavings, and plan on leaving a little cash with a fundraiser that will benefit the troops at the "Rear Echelon" blog-a-thon!

Publicola notes we have Buy A Gun Day, National Ammo Day, but no day to shoot all that ammo through all those guns, so he proposes American Range Trip Day, to take all those guns out and burn that ammo. He proposes the day of June 23rd, to mark the day the Supreme Court told Ms. Kelo that her house was only hers as long as some developer didn't want it, too bad, so sad. I say, let's not wait a year, go ahead and spend *this* years allocation this weekend! And write letters to your state officials about Eminent Domain abuse. Back to the subject... Publicola notes - any day that ends in "y" is a good day to go shoot!

In fact, I sent Publicola a note suggesting July 4th for this year - but, as you can see, he was pretty adamant about waiting until June 23rd next year... but to, well, prepare.

John, It's a date specific thing. A month ago if I'd have had this idea I would have went for April 19th. But since SCOTUS handed down Kelo on June 23rd I figure that's the most appropriate date we have at the moment. I know it'll be almost a year till the first ART day, but that'll give us that much more time ot get the word out. & of course I always recommend going to the range before you plan on going to the range just to make sure everything's cool, followed by going to the range after you've gone to the range to make sure everything was in fact cool. :)

take care,


Works for me!

Mr. Completely offers up some Gun Pr0n!

TFS Magnum points out a disappointed District Attorney, but an un-raped abused wife.

If you've not visited the Blogging Babes of the Cotillion... well, perhaps you should?

Like Say Uncle - I really don't like people like this. And I *really* despise officious petty officialdom like these dolts Denise at The Ten Ring ran into.

In case you missed it, there's been some tut-tutting in the world about USGov response to an alleged Iranian Hostage Taker, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, being elected (such as elections work in Iran) President. The usual suspects in the MSM, in this specific instance, NBC's Brian Williams, pointing out that Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe were all, in the eyes of the British Crown at the time, equivalent characters - i.e., terrorists. I could go on about it - but Callimachus at Done With Mirrors has done so already.

Dean Esmay types a defense of Robert Heinlein's works - all I have to add is that Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo started me on seriously reading fiction, and hooked me on science fiction (c'mon, kids build backyard rocket for eccentric man - only to find Nazi's on the Moon... and use a Garand to conquer - what's not to like?) , when I was in the 6th grade, just as Russell Davis' Marine at War (personal memoir of the war in the Pacific, and better'n anything Manchester wrote, if only because it's all true...) twigged me to history, while in the 5th grade.

Greyhawk looks back at a year of combat in Iraq...

This will annoy somebody... Dittoes, Dean, regarding the UN.

Fallout from Kelo - both sides: Happy to pillage for dollars via The Agitator... and in building defenses against, via Say Uncle. For the record - I think the legislative remedy is the way to go.

Another soldier balladeer. Luke Stricklin.

Matt has probably already covered these guys... but here are three more soldiers you should know: Sgts. 1st Class Bradly M. Felix and Roger G. Watts, and Staff Sgt. David G. Colucci, all assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). Silver Star awardees.

And after Fallujah? The enemy is relying more and more on remote attacks and suicide bombers... which increases the casualties among the civilians... which is causing more and more civlians to help out with information. Now is *not* the time to set a hard date for withdrawal. Feel free to recall a few retirees to give the young 'uns a break...

An interesting Op-Ed in the NYT on how to proceed in Iraq. Food for thought.

Trying to influence the influencers...

by John on Jul 01, 2005
» Boudicca's Voice links with: Great Causes for our Troops
» PajamaHadin links with: Live8 celebrity benefit against poverty in Africa

June 28, 2005

Speaking of history as not being our long suit... and other things.

See what Castle Philosopher Kat has to say on the idea of Freedom, the Struggle for, When to Abandon.

I would note, Kat, that there are those...

Would that they had been so weak of heart at Valley Forge or Bunker Hill, who then would we be? If they had abandoned Fort McHenry, what song would we sing? At the bloody ground of Gettysburg, should we have said the price was too much, who would be the slave? If men had not crawled over inches of bloody sand to the battlements at the top of Normandy, what world would we live in?

...born in this country and living in it now - who would actually prefer that they *had* lost heart at Valley Forge, and that this nation never got it's start, so deep is their essential self-loathing and blindness.

On a completely unrelated note, Jeff at Alphecca is gun-blegging...

Too bad that everything I want for the Castle would take years to snooker you guys out of were I to try that...

Boyes Anti-Tank Rifle.
Mauser Anti-tank Rifle
Hotchkiss Portative
Wall Gun
Maxim 08
Maxim 08/15
1st Model Brown Bess
Ferguson Rifle (scroll down)
Tripplett and Scott (had one, once, sad story there)

Oh who am I kidding, anyway?

Over at Random Nuclear Strikes - 'Ware the hypocrisy of whiners on both sides of the spectrum...

Mudville notes the different approach Gunner's Palace takes on it's release to DVD. Since it never made it around here in the theaters, that's the only way we're going to see it at the Castle.

The Llama Butchers have an intriguing suggestion... though I would prefer Minot, North Dakota for Winter, and Fort Huachuca, Arizona for summer...

Here at Castle Argghhh!, we're in no danger of succumbing to that horror... Mantropy, exposed here as a service by Rachel of Tinkerty Tonk.

Barb is keeping her eye on the Gold Star Mother's flap, seemingly resolved in a (I think) proper fashion. Not the outcome, per se, but how it all came about.

Like Barb:

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

Update: Hmmm. I wonder if the *real* purpose behind the study is to see how fast what segments of the blogworld will spread a graphic and meme around... and to track the spread via sign-ins... prolly not - that woulda come from the Harvard Business School or something. This probably just is Brainiacs at work...

Okay - lunch is over, back on my head.

by John on Jun 28, 2005
» CDR Salamander links with: Gunner Palace out on DVD

June 18, 2005

Rules of War, Part II.

H/t: Jim C.

Hosting provided by FotoTime

The Rules of War--Col. Brett Wyrick USAF 15 June 2005

MILINET: The Rules of War

By Col. Brett Wyrick USAF

- The first rule of war is that young men and women die. The second rule of war is that surgeons cannot change the first rule.

We had already done around a dozen surgical cases in the morning and the early afternoon. The entire medical staff had a professional meeting to discuss the business of the hospital and the care and treatment of burns.

It is not boastful or arrogant when I tell you that some of the best surgeons in the world were present - I have been to many institutions, and I have been all around the world, and at this point in time, with this level of experience, the best in the world are assembled here at Balad.

LTC Dave S., the Trauma Czar, and a real American hero is present. He has saved more people out here than anyone can imagine. The cast of characters includes two Air Force Academy graduates, Col (s) Joe W. and Maj. Max L. When you watch ER on television, the guys on the show are trying to be like Max - cool, methodical and professional. Max never misses anything on a trauma case because he sees everything on a patient and notes it the same way the great NFL running backs see the entire playing field when they are carrying the ball.

Joe is an ENT surgeon who is tenacious, bright, and technically correct every single time - I mean every single time. The guy has a lower tolerance for variance than NASA. LTC (s) Chris C. was the Surgeon of the Day (SOD), and I was the back-up SOD. Everyone else was there and available - as I said the best in the world.

As the meeting was breaking up, the call came in.

Read the whole thing here.

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by John on Jun 18, 2005

June 16, 2005

Echo Chambers...

The meme around the blogs yesterday was "Echo Chamber." See here and our own pet lefty Alan here for examples.

While the core denizens and periodic commenters at the Castle apparently share a fairly common core of beliefs - there is plenty of room for energetic disagreement on the margins.

The Terri Schiavo case was, I think, the most glaring of these fissures in the group. I was on the side of Terri's parents with several others. Several among us were on the side of Michael Schiavo. Most of you just skimmed past or watched from the bleachers.

My comment regarding Michelle Malkin's post on the autopsy was a poorly executed attempt at getting one of us out of his corner and back into the light (a decision he intimates I will regret later today...) But the one who came out of the shadows was not the one I was after, and he came out swinging, hard. I inadvertently stepped on Neffi's last nerve on the subject. So here, publicly, I'll apologize for that. The old "If I knew then what I know now defense" is all I have on offer, and it isn't sufficient. I'm sorry, Neffi.

Feh, what's life if it ain't about passion?

Losses like that can crush the faith and soul of anyone.

And make you angry when you hear people talk about shit that you *know* about. Especially when it's slightly flip, like I did. Like my lack of humor regarding John Kerry and his departure from Vietnam.

I still hold to my position as stated in earlier stuff - but I'll acknowledge that in this instance, Michael Schiavo was right.

Too bad he didn't have it in writing, or with at least another witness - and the parents were willing to take over the care and costs, that is where I was coming from.

I would have been on the other side had there been anything other than hearsay - as far as I knew at the time. My mother has a living will - she has it because she knows my father will be simply unable to pull the plug. So I'll do it, or my sister.

For my father - well, based on what I know about what my father feels, I might end up fighting my mother about pulling the plug - as in resisting the pull. I don't know, because it all comes down to the actual specifics of the case. I know where SWWBO stands on the issue, and will act accordingly - but the next time we update the wills - I'll get it in writing, just in case there are questions. I'll let her tell if she wishes. Not my place in this space (Hey, Mom wants everyone to know - in case you were wondering how I could square that circle).

But like I said in my comment in the post below, deciding to keep someone alive is a reversible decision, if the facts change, or my understanding of them changes. The other decision is not reversible, so I'm willing to have some tug-of-war over it.

Obviously, Jack and Sanger's mileage varies - but from what Neffi said in his note about his situation- we'd probably both have reached the same conclusion he did... which was to pull the plug on his son. So, here I am, again sitting in the mushy middle, reviled as having no principles at all by the Rush Limbaughs and Markos Zunigas of the world.

Well, tough noogies. Frankly, this is where most of us sit, on average. I generally can't abide hanging around with people who exist at either extreme.

And, if nothing else - the issue with Terri Schiavo is resolved, and the law on the underlying matter more settled. And from what the autopsy report says... Terri was probably unaware of anything, a blessing.

But sometimes you have to take a stand. Terri's parents did, Michael did. And so the issue is more defined, and more certain. I don't mind that. What I didn't like was letting it stay so murky and gray, because sometimes the great mushy middle isn't a good place to be, and too much can be done behind the curtains. As always, the Moonbats ruled both extremes and were really annoying. I don't recall having any Moonbats visit - though some sites linked that were infested with moonbats of both stripes (though the owners of the linking sites weren't).

Stay away, Moonbats. You aren't welcome here. But persons of good mind and manners are - even if they disagree.

And since I pay for this and have the ultimate editing privileges, that's the way it is. I'm the Bouncer of Argghhh!

And no - that doesn't mean Neffi was bounced - I pulled his comment at *his* request, and he's free to post it back verbatim, if he wants.

by John on Jun 16, 2005

Raven 42.

Attention to Orders!

Announcement is made of the following awards, to the warriors of Raven 42. Another less-military-jargonated, perhaps more readable version of the story of Raven 42 can be found here, by W. Thomas Smith, Jr.

LTG Vines, Commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, presented RAVEN 42 the following list of awards today for their heroic actions on 20 March 2005 in Salman Pak, Iraq.

SPC Ashley Pullen is absent from the photo due to sickness. The other missing three, SGT Rivera, SPC Haynes, and PFC Mack, are recovering in Kentucky as noted under their awards.

Ric Locke made what I think is an excellent observation - so much so that I decided to pull it up out of the comments and put it here.

I see this as a big, big thing for the future Army.

One of the things that struck me as a Navy enlisted man years ago, and has impressed me since as an interested observer, is the degree to which myths and stories affect the confidence of soldiers and their unit cohesion. Medals are, in part, awarded in recognition of superior behavior because they add to those stories -- knowing of someone "just like me" who accomplished something great gives me confidence that I can do the same if the chips fall.

There haven't been any such mythic stories for women. That's mostly because there haven't been many women in combat situations, but it causes a problem. If there are no myths for women to tell one another and live by, many will just fall back on the welfare aspects of military service, and that's not helpful to anyone. At first, the story of Pvt. Jessica Lynch seemed as if it could be such a myth, and the Army tried to support it, but the underlying facts were weak enough for the press and other hostile actors to reduce the myth to a dirty joke. Not helpful.

Now we have not one, but two women who not only done good, they done real good. Other women can be inspired by their stories, which are real and confirmed. The result will be an increase in morale and consequent decrease in disciplinary problems with women soldiers. The problems won't go away -- Hell, they haven't gone away with men -- but having this turn into a "now this is no shit" story will help a lot.

And, with no disprespect to Jessica Lynch - it is a *much* better mythos! Lemme put it this way - compared to this group of troops, I'm a FOBbit. A REMF. My father, with a Combat Infantryman's Badge, Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, 7 Purple Hearts... is a *peer* when it comes to the Brotherhood. That is what I mean by a *much* better mythos.

As Bad Cat Robot adds:

The mythos-change isn't just for women. Those men of Raven 42 now know in their hearts and souls the women they serve with are worthy of the uniform they wear in every respect. That those women will fight for and with them just like their male counterparts. Not just defensively -- but taking the fight to the enemy!

That, ladies and gentlemen, was a *fight*. All junior soldiers and leaders. *That* is a quality that other Armies envy. And, if you think there is medal-inflation going on here... read the link to the AAR, above. Silver Stars (or Bronze Stars w/V (for Valor) or Army Commendation Medals w/V) don't come cheap to anyone... and especially junior soldiers. For you normal, non-military types... the Order of Precedence for valor medals is:

1. Medal of Honor
2. Distinguished Service Cross/Navy Cross/Air Force Cross
3. Silver Star/Distinguished Flying Cross
4. Bronze Star (with V device)
5. Meritorious Service Medal (with V - rare)
6. Army Commendation Medal (with V - also rare)

A medal with a V device takes precedence over one without. #1 and #3 are always valor awards. The rest can be awarded for various levels of exceptional performance.

The medal with the red stripe in the middle of the ribbon is the Silver Star.
The medal with the blue stripe in the middle is the Bronze Star
The medal with the green ribbon is the Army Commendation Medal.
The medal with the bust of Washington is the Purple Heart.

The Purple Heart, if you haven't run into that before, is awarded for wounds received in combat.

The jihadi's don't like the Raven symbol.

That is all.


by John on Jun 16, 2005
» The Jawa Report links with: Heroes
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: V for Valor, not Valedictorian
» Dean's World links with: Ten Kentuckians Vs. 50 Terrorists: Not a Fair Fight
» Assumption of Command links with: Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester Earns Silver Star
» Scotts Conservative News & Commentary links with: Friday Roundup
» Blog o'RAM links with: "Leigh Ann is a very good soldier."
» Mudville Gazette links with:
» triticale - the wheat / rye guy links with: The Ravin' Raven
» Mudville Gazette links with:
» Mudville Gazette links with:
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Iraq Report, 20 June/05
» BLACKFIVE links with: Raven 42 and Sergeant Leigh Ann Hester
» AlphaPatriot links with: First Silver Star Awarded to Woman since WWII

June 15, 2005

Thank you, sir.

For all that you did. For your family, your Army, your Nation, and me. I know I'm late - I always was, eh? But I wanted to do this after the stone was set, and not when it would get drowned in other things.

And while you've left us - it's good to see the twins have got Dad around, finally.

Go find Bunker Mulligan, down there at Fiddler's Green. I'm sure you two have some stories to tell.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

by John on Jun 15, 2005

June 09, 2005

We're sorry, Jonah.

Blog-father Jonah Goldberg's father Sidney passed away last night. Our prayers are with Jonah, Lucianne, and the family.

We're glad Jonah took the time to be with his Dad as the end approached. By all accounts, Poppa Goldberg was a gem of a man.

by John on Jun 09, 2005

June 05, 2005

Bunker Mulligan, RIP.

All Stations This Net, All Stations This Net, Stand by for Traffic.

Battery Mulligan - Close Station, March Order.

Report LD and RP at new position...

Another veteran has started the trek down the road to Fiddler's Green.

I can't say I knew fellow mil-blogger, retired Zoomie and veteran and anxious father of a deployed warrior Mike Reed (better known as Bunker) well, but we were emailers and commenters. While Bunker now has the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question, our thoughts rest with his family as they rearrange their lives around the huge hole that has suddenly appeared in it.

Get those hearts checked, guys and gals. Bunker was only 52.

Keep 'em cold for us, Bunker, down at Fiddler's Green.

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance: In Memoriam.

The Castle is not the only place in the Milblog/Golf world to note Mike's passing:

Barb at Righty in a Lefty State.
Sara at Trying to Grok
Wallace at Streams.
Major Dad at Cursed with a Classical Education.
David Clary at DLC's 2005 Golf Diary.
Matt at Blackfive.
Bob at CrosSwords (top right sidebar)
Armageddon Project.
Little Bit Tired, Little Bit Worn.
Better Living Through Blogging.
Texas Trifles
Southern Conservative
The Fire Ant Gazette

The tagline to Mike's blog is:

“Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.” ~Mark Twain

Based on the links above, I think you met the standard, Mike. I for one am sorry that I didn't say something like that before you went. But isn't it ever thus?

Now I think I'll call my father.

by John on Jun 05, 2005
» The Armageddon Project links with: More Info About Bunker’s Passing

May 30, 2005

Memorial Day 2005 notifications.

I got asked in an email why did I just repost last year's post? Wasn't that old news?

I did it to remind people of what each of those notifications results in, in one form or another. That news is, sadly, still fresh, and happens day after day. Yet it is only one strata of bedrock upon which the future is built. 'Tis up to us, the living, to decide whether it will be saprolite, *rotted rock,* or a limestone of sufficient hardness to use as a building material.

Notifications? Like this - these are the notifications that arrived today.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Phillip N. Sayles, 26, of Jacksonville, Ark., died May 28 in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his security position. Sayles was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Not all deaths are the result of combat action. They hurt *just* as much.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lt. Col. Albert E. Smart, 41, of San Antonio, Texas, died May 28 in Doha, Qatar, of a non-combat related illness. Smart was assigned to the U.S. Army Reserve's 321st Civil Affairs Brigade, San Antonio, Texas.

For further information related to this release, contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.

Each one started a chain of events similar in one way or another to what you read here. They vary in only details. This is where the rubber meets the road when you read Jefferson's observation about "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."

by John on May 30, 2005
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: Sneak's wide world 30: Soldier's Memorial Day

May 28, 2005

Memorial Day 2005.

The Milblog world is full of great posts this weekend. When casting about for what I was going to do for Memorial Day, everywhere I looked, other people had already done it and generally better than I ever would. These two posts will stay up all weekend, anything new will be below - and the second post will have links to other bloggers stuff.

Since active operations continue, and my email box pings daily with several DoD Casualty notifications, I'm going to do what I did last year. Give you a glimpse into what happens behind those casualty notices.

With the permission of my old Army buddy Tony Cerri, and his daughter Sarah, who had to bury her essentially brand new husband, 2LT Leonard Cowherd.

*This* is what Memorial Day is about. Especially as long as my email inbox pings with casualty notifications. Remember - this was written last year.

This is my Memorial Day post. It's the only post up - until the final chapter comes in. It's long. Just the story of 2lt Leonard Cowherd, Sarah Cerri Cowherd, and the Cowherd and Cerri families, as seen through the eyes of my Scorpion brother-in-arms, Tony Cerri. This is a great country. And this is just one proof. This is the price of freedom, hope, and the fight for the future. As has been asked before - where do we find such men? Answer: look around you - they are everywhere. You just don't notice them. It is not my intent to exalt 2lt Cowherd above other casualties of this or any war. Just to tell the story.

Do not stand by my grave and weep ...
I am not there;
I do not sleep.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds circling in flight.
Do not stand by my grave and cry ...
I am not there.
I did not die.
-- Royster

I am the great-grandson of a soldier of the Civil War.
I am the grandson of a soldier of the Great War.
I am the son of a soldier of Korea, and Vietnam.
I was a "Brat".
I was a soldier.
I am still a soldier, albeit in the Retired Reserve.

In a different life, now seemingly long ago and far away, I answered a ringing doorbell. I opened the door, and there stood the Western Union man. I was 12. I knew this was Not Good. Mom came up. She saw the Western Union man. She froze. The Western Union man looked miserable. I took the offered envelope. Opened it. Mom was a statue, frozen in her own private hell. The Western Union man was fidgety, and downcast.

I opened the envelope. Read it out loud.

"The Secretary of the Army regrets to inform you that your servicemember, LTC Timothy H. Donovan was wounded in combat in the Republic of Vietnam.

He was shot while flying in a helicopter. The a/c did not crash or burn."

That's it. Dad was wounded, not dead. Mom could breathe again. The Western Union guy was all smiles.

All smiles. And that didn't strike any of us as a Bad Thing. Because we were giddy, too.

Well, over 800 times [now 1600. ed] since the crossing of the LD for OIF, teams of officers have made visits like that one.

Only there were no giddy smiles of relief.

Just recently, they made one of those visits to the home of one of my Army buddies, whose daughter's husband had just been killed in Iraq.

Since the Founding of the Republic, some form of this process has played out 2,621,552 times, give or take.

America's Wars Total (Less conflicts after Gulf War 1)
Military service during war 42,348,460
Battle deaths 651,008
Other deaths in service (theater) 13,998
Other deaths in service (nontheater) 525,256
Nonmortal woundings 1,431,290

Joseph Stalin observed: "The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."

Those are the statistics. Read now the story of one man, and his family and friends - and the impact of the death of one man, a soldier, Leonard Cowherd, Second Lieutenant, Armor, United States Army.

This is the story of a military family dealing with the death of a soldier. This is the story of bravery, fortitude, family, love. It is a story that plays out across all the services. It's real, it's true. It happened. And will happen again, as long as warriors have to man the ramparts against the darkness.

I have fought a good fight
I have finished my course
I have kept the faith.
-- 2 Timothy 4:7
We will carry the torch for you, Leonard.

It's a long post - this makes for good background music: Barber's Adagio (right click, open in a new window)

So, let it begin (and yes, I have the family's permission to share this with you):

Friends---below are a series of emails,edited only to delete all the headings, from my good friend LTC(R) Tony Cerri...His son in law 2LT Leonard Cowherd was killed last week in Iraq. Leonard's death puts a face on the growing list of young men killed in Iraq. I think you will find these emails will touch your hearts....


The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

2nd Lt. Leonard M. Cowherd, 22, of Culpeper, Va., died May 16 in Karbala, Iraq, when he received sniper and rocket propelled grenade fire while securing a building near the Mukhayam Mosque. Cowherd was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedberg, Germany.

1st Platoon, C 1/37 Armor. 2LT Cowherd stands in front of the tank on the right.

My son-in-law, 2LT Cowherd, was killed this morning in Iraq. He is the armor soldier currently being referred to in the news. Platoon Leader. USMA class of '03.

My daughter has been staying with us since Leonard deployed. I was with her when the car pulled in the driveway and she was notified by the team from Ft Eustis tonight. Surreal is not the word.

You can imagine that this is a numbing time for us.

We expect an onslaught of details and issues tomorrow. I will be at home until such time as we are settled.

I know you'll ask, "Is there anything I can do?" I appreciate and I will not hesitate to call should something arise.
Sorry it has been so long since I've sent an update. Things have been busy. I also apologize that what will follow has the shape and sound of an FAQ and that's not the intent. However, I want to tell you what's going on and where we are and answer your questions; that just leads me to a particular kind of format. It's late and it's been a long day I apologize for grammar errors.

First - how are we?
We are as fine as can be expected. I realize that sounds trite and rote.
However, it is heartfelt and rings true while living it. I have come to understand that we are on a journey of stages and phases and, all things considered, we are doing fine. We have gone through the initial moments of absolute shock, horror, disbelief, rage, and soul emptying sorrow. I classify the next large chunk of time as numbness.

Finally, and currently, we are in emotional, and sometimes physical, exhaustion. And all are exactly right. The initial notification and emotions are something I wish on no one. The numbness and exhaustion are welcome.

They allow us to get on with things and deal with the realities.

We are making decisions. There has been some degree of normalness return. There has even been some laughter and lightness in the house. We are fine.

How is Sarah?
My daughter is strong and has proven to be a warrior's wife but I ache for her. No one should be a war-widow at 23. While Beth and I experience ups and downs, she is more so. If we are at a 7, she is at an 8. If we are at a 3, she is at a 2. She comforts others as she is being comforted.

Although she's a brat, she did her serious growing up years right here. She has a large circle of friends and family that have reached out to her. Further, and to digress a moment, she attended the Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership and Leonard attended the United States Military Academy. Both institutions forge strong relationships amongst their graduates. Both nstitution's graduates have a respect and place in their hearts for their owns spouse. Sarah has had her hand held by people literally around the world; generals, lieutenants, civilians, male, female, serving, retired, her friends, Leonard's friends, their friends. She obviously grieves. She is proud of what her husband was doing and believed in. She wishes he had done something else. She understands he wouldn't have been Leonard if he had. Further, she has a special friend - Leonard's identical twin brother Charles. You've read and heard about twins. If my experience is normal, everything you've ever heard about twins is right.

Sarah, Leonard, and Charles were always the three musketeers. We kidded Sarah that she was actually getting two husbands. And she reveled in it. Charles is not and has never been Leonard for Sarah - he is Leonard's other half as Sarah was Leonard's other half for Charles. They are both missing something significant...and together they form a whole of sorts.

Charles is spending time with us and I couldn't ask for anything better for the two of them. Sarah is fine.

How is Leonard's family?
About the same as we...but no one should ever have to bury a child. Do NOT take that wrong. They are incredibly proud of their son and everything he believed in and stood for. We spent last night together after they drove down from Culpepper.

We celebrated Leonard's life.

There were no second guessings, misgivings, or hesitation. They miss their son and grieve for him and are going through the same stages as the Cerri's but are strong in their faith and the certainty that Leonard was doing what was important to him. They are comforted by the principles of a small town and a close knit family. Their 3 other children and an extended family are around them and providing both solace and support. I suspect they'd have no problem reading that I say they are as fine as can be expected.

Is there anything you can do?

Sarah, Charles and I have discussed this. We need nothing. We appreciate everything. However, if you want to 'do' something we have two requests. First - somewhere in your 6-degree circle of friends and family find a deployed soldier, sailor, airman, or marine. Talk to them. Send them an e-mail, a letter, or package. Tell them you're there. Tell them you care.

It doesn't have to be Iraq or Afghanistan.

We have folks around the world that are doing our business. Just reach out to one of them. One of Leonard's biggest concerns was the soldiers in his platoon who received no mail or support from folks outside the company. Our warriors shouldn't have this problem. Second - stand a little stiller, stand a little straighter the next time you hear the National Anthem. There are generations of warriors that have made that possible.

What happened?

Leonard caught a sniper's round in the chest. He did not suffer. As far as we know at this time, his platoon and company had been engaged in relatively heavy combat all day long in Karbala. Leonard died at around 1720 Iraq time on Sunday. We do not know if he was off his tank or if it happened while he was mounted. During the same period two other soldiers were wounded although they do not appear to have been with Leonard's platoon. Again, as far as we've been able to determine, the unit returned fire and carried the field. Some reports indicate they killed the sniper.

When will his body be returned?
We were notified that his remains were due to arrive in Dover today. It will take some 24 to 36 hours for the Army to finishing positive identification and other details at which time the remains will be released.

What are the plans?
At this point we are planning on a civilian ceremony in Culpepper, VA on Saturday with eventual internment at Arlington. The Culpepper ceremony will be in Saint Stephens Episcopal Church at 1400. Please note - this is a small church in a Middle America with ~100 seats. This is where Leonard grew up and he is a hometown hero. PLEASE feel welcome if you would like to attend but be prepared to stand outside, or in an aisle, or in a tent. The Arlington ceremony is yet to be nailed down. I will notify all when details are known.

What about flowers and such?
Sarah and Charles are still discussing this and are narrowing the field. Flowers already fill our house (and our thanks). They are discussing everything from donations to the USO (if you've ever deployed - you understand. Leonard constantly talked about how well the USO took care of him.), to establishing a history award at Leonard's high school (history was his thing, he was good at it, he believed in it), to establishing a scholarship to attend summer camp (Leonard was a camp counselor for many years and strongly believed that every child should be able to attend). Give them some time and they will sort it out.

How has the Army treated Sarah?
Wonderful. Dignified. Caring. You may know that I am retired Army. I always believed that the Army took care of its own. I now know it is true. We are in Yorktown but the unit is in Germany. Regardless, the Army has wrapped its arms around Sarah as only the military can do. The notification occurred as you've seen it in the movies or read about it.

The car pulled up in the drive way and two officers came down the walk. They were professional and Sarah-oriented. They had a horrible message but delivered it in a manner worthy of emulation and admiration. Those poor guys. The causality assistance officer is equally squared away and Sarah-oriented. He will be with her till all the details are finished. He's done his homework and has thus far been able to answer everything we've asked up to the point it is known. Again, the poor soul. He has drawn one of the most awful details any soldier could ever dream of. He has deported himself well and I couldn't ask for better. The Army will carry many, if not most, of the funeral and interment expenses. Sarah will continue to receive full military benefits. Some of the next details might raise an eyebrow or two but they are available on many web sites and I share them so you may understand. She was given a check today for $12K. This benefit is not a quantification of the value of a soldiers life. It is the Army's way of providing immediate help to a spouse. Sarah is young and living with us. However, if she was a Private's wife, on her own, or with children, the fund would be a god-send of help. She will receive the Serviceman's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) payment. She will not be wealthy but she will have time to think and plan. We have received offers of help from General Officers to Lieutenant friends. From local, to Korea, to Germany, to West Point, to points around America. The Army is closing ranks to take care of my daughter. I am proud and grateful.

They both went to military schools. What's going on there? Leonard is the first USMA '03 grad to die in combat. I'll just have to report that the Corps had a moment of silence and his company is holding a military memorial. The emotions behind these ceremonies can not be put in an e-mail. If you're curious, ask me when I get back or ask a grad. They are soul searing and will stay will the Corps forever. Sarah is the first VWIL grad to experience this - ever. Her military friends around the world have reached out and her civilian friends as well.

The Commandant and the Corps have been very much a part of all this.

When am I coming back to work?
I know, I know, I know - you didn't ask and every body and their brother has said to take the time I need. I will. However, I need to get on with things as well. As of this point, it looks like Monday next is as good day to shoot for as any. I'm sure I'll need to take some periodic time off in the upcoming weeks to help Sarah and the Cowherd's settle things but they'll taper off with time.

OK y'all...LONG e-mail and it's late and I need to hit the sack. However, this is what I know as of the moment and wanted to share. I'll keep you posted.
All that follow is beside the point above and perhaps more for my sake than yours. However, I know friends have questions and I'll try to answer as best I can. I'll move on to what I'm sure is the number one question on your mind - how was the memorial in Culpeper?

I can't really explain this weekend without explaining a little about Culpeper. This is a place that still has a thriving Main Street. This is a place where banks still occupy Main Street corners with big stone buildings. This is a place where the magnolias are taller than the houses they shade.

A.P Hill is a local boy done good and very much alive in conversation and pride. Hooker, Stewart, and Davis are contemporaries that inspire with their prowess and ideals of loyalty and devotion to higher calling.

Main Street on Friday night is packed with cars...because that's what you do in a town like Culpeper on Friday night. It's a place where you stop your car in the middle of a country lane to help a turtle across the road and the 30ish lady behind you rolls down her window to tell you thanks. BTW - Yes I did and yes she did.

It's a place where the owners and workers of floral shops, bed and breakfasts, hotels, funeral homes, media recognize values and heroes. It's a place where a Virgie Atkins comes out from behind the counter to give your wife a hug and sit through some sobs with her.

Everybody knows everyone and family reputation is borne as a matter of honor through the generations. It's a place two 9/11 flight attendants called home; a home with the values of the vast majority of the American land mass. The limos taking us to the church didn't fly funeral flags - they flew American flags. People noted and took as a good sign a hawk circling the steeple.

The ceremony was a town event; hero falls in battle. The mayor (ex-Special Forces) had American flags lining Main Street a la Fourth of July. The Governor had the state flag at half mast for the week. People just flat bent over backwards to honor Leonard's name and his country's cause and his service.

I really don't know how many hundred people attended but the local paper's Saturday morning edition headline described the preparations...and the fact that they really weren't sure if the plan to run sound and video to the outside tents was going to work.

The afternoon was Southern-heat still but many attended the almost two-hour Episcopal ceremony standing in tents under the church's massive shade trees... as attendants offered bottled ice water. These men and women were in addition to the full church and congregation hall. I know I speak for the Cowherd's and the Cerri's all when I say the support at the ceremony was truly infectious.

This was tragedy and celebration writ large for those who knew Leonard - child to man, West Point Cadet to Armor Platoon Leader, single to married.

The minister and speakers distinguished themselves with moving acknowledgment of Leonard the man, the officer, the brother, and... the husband.

Military senior was General (Ret) McCaffrey and his remarks would have made Leonard happy. However, perhaps most significant were two 82nd Airborne PFC's in attendance. No one knew them and they left before we could talk to them - they just attended. There were dozens of Lieutenant's in attendance; from Korea, and Colorado, and Italy, and New Mexico, and Alabama, and North Carolina, and Georgia, and Kansas, and Texas, and Florida, and other points around the US and the world. The West Point and Virginia Women's Institute for Leadership Corps' alumni were present en masse.

And it was a righteous salve. Acceptance, pride, and promise filled us all as we departed the church.

And afterward? Well, the Lieutenants, and the Cowherd's, and the Cerri's
and et al went to a pub in downtown Culpeper. Amidst the open beams, the cigarette smell, and the dim lighting two guys with electrified acoustic guitars played songs like Tennessee Waltz, and Take Me Home to West Virginia and Whiskey for My Men and Beer for My Horses. We drank, and talked, and laughed, and yes - even danced a little. If you don't understand, what can I say.... We were there to tell Leonard-stories and family-stories and military-stories. And we cried and held each other when the need arose. And I looked those family members and Lieutenants in the eye and saw our nation's future - selfless, capable, proud, and determined.

And how is Sarah?

It is difficult to believe this is my daughter. 'Grace under fire' is a tired old cliché but I now certainly know its meaning. One of her VWIL buds paid her a compliment today that I hope you'll understand even a little as it says so much. She said, "Sarah, you are certainly a Mary Baldwin girl." Sarah has uncertain times ahead but this young woman, this warriors-wife has acted with a dignity and purpose that is surely based on love. She leaned back on my chest today during the viewing and whispered through her tears,

"Dad, I'm so proud of Leonard."

And one can't talk of Sarah without talking of Leonard's twin - Charles.

He is Sarah's strength and I think vice versa as well. The two of them have
brought us to a point where laughter is OK again. His memorial service remark about missing 'twin time' was telling but well balanced by not having to worry about Leonard. He, like the rest of us, is moving on.

And the Cerri's and the Cowherd's?

Frankly - beat. Thank God for sleep; the great elixir of life. Each day gets a little better. We have miles to go in this run but we know we're not alone and we're getting the hang of it. We are OK. Everyone has their own moments but mine happened when one of Leonard's friends slipped a CD in the funeral home's sound system today. Had two songs - The West Point Alma Mater and The Corps. Suddenly, there were thousands and thousands of the Long Grey Line filling that room. Generations of soldiers and leaders were striving to encourage and support. Those songs were written for and about Leonard.

A final observation and I'll be done. 5 hours ago it had been a week since that notification team walked down our path. Today was the most emotional since it was the day chosen for close family to actually visit with Leonard. As Beth and I were headed to the funeral home I stopped in a 7-11 for some water. Standing at the check out line I saw a picture that froze me in my tracks; three helmet-topped M16s with a soldier saluting. In this week, in this time - that picture could only come from one place on earth and for one thing only; it was the military memorial held by Leonard's unit. So many emotions ran through me. Those services are unlike anything else. Even now I'm getting a little empty space as I imagine what the Roll Call sounded like... If you've participated, you understand. If you haven't, imagine the simplest and most dignified ceremony specifically designed for soldiers to honor their fallen. It can be done anywhere but where ever it's done takes on the feel of Saint Patrick's Cathedral.


I'd told the Cowherd family that this tradition would be upheld and now I had graphic proof. Point in passing, courtesy of a phone call from BG Hertling, the 1st AD ADC, tonight I know that this memorial in Iraq was on going within hours of the Culpeper service and that it had been attended by near a thousand. A young Specialist had spoken about 'his' Lieutenant. Imagine that Specialist's moxie and caring to address those hundreds of soldiers and you understand the honor this was for Sarah and Leonard's parents.

I looked closer and saw the picture was on the front page of the NY Times. This wasn't the Culpeper daily or the Richmond times. This was one of the most respected, global newspapers on earth. Hmm... I picked up a copy and read it. I found quotes by Leonard's Battalion Commander describing the action wherein Leonard had been killed and the completion of that action in a satisfying manner. I tucked a copy under my arm and checked out.

Viewings can be rough and this one was against my better judgment but Sarah can be hard headed... and was right. My daughter's final moments with the husband she hadn't seen in 5 months and with whom she'd only lived for 5 months ended sweet. She and Leonard's mother and Leonard's twin brother and all the rest of the extended families stayed long enough to get through all the emotions. Sarah, the Cowherd's and Beth and I were all truly the better for this final visit. But what about the NY Times?

About half-way through the viewing I went out to the car and brought the paper in. There, in that room, with Leonard with us, we made a connection with not only his unit and their actions but with the entire world. We were one. There was closure. Information from the war zone to a funeral home in rural VA and shared around the world. The story about the fight was just as important, if not more so, than the picture itself. I could physically see the Cowherd's relax just a little bit.

And as this first week was drawing to a close, one of Leonard's closest West Point friends came up to Mr. Cowherd and said, "Leonard will always be a hero." And so he will...

Tony Cerri

Leonard will be buried on Wednesday at 1100 at Arlingon National

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam, to all the fallen of the Armed Forces and our Allies, in all our conflicts.

They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them . .
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We will remember them!
-- Lawrence Binyon



The funeral is covered in the post below this. I'll be linking to other blogger's efforts at the bottom of that post.

I have no idea how many links this post will get - but please, if this post and the one below only move you to make hateful or political comments, save it for another time, and another post. I won't be impressed with your brave political commentary, and I'll simply delete it. This isn't for the discussion of the war. This is about Memorial Day. Sad enough I feel the need to add this paragraph, but the chances are pretty good that Tony and Sarah and others will be here this weekend.

by John on May 28, 2005
» Hyscience links with: Tidbits on Terrorism
» Mostly Cajun, All American and Opinionated links with: Memorial Day
» TacJammer links with: Memory - 2005
» Michelle Malkin links with: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND: IN REMEMBRANCE
» CatHouse Chat links with: Memorial Day
» The Laughing Wolf links with: Memorial Day
» Outside The Beltway links with: Memorial Day 2005
» Quotulatiousness links with: Memorial Day
» No Pundit Intended links with: Memorials
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
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2LT Cowherd, Final Roll Call.

This is the final chapter of last year's post. To keep in synch, read the post above this if you haven't already.

"First Sergeant, Call the Roll."

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd...

"First Sergeant, let Lieutenant Cowherd's name be stricken from the roll."

Play this as you read. Amazing Grace (right click, open in new window, and return to the post)


Before all that is to follow, I want to thank the Agnew's for hosting a gathering after the Arlington ceremony. They are the parents of Charles', Leonard's twin, roommate from VMI. This was 'just' the thing; you can't put that many high-energy young people together without laughter and good memories finding a way to the surface. This gathering was vital to lifting spirits and providing a steam valve for emotions. At the end - the young ones stuffed the 'old folk' in one limo headed back to Culpeper while they went out in another to find some adventure.

As it should be. Thank you for opening your home and your hospitality.

I now have to apologize to all of you who attended the Arlington ceremony. We know this wasn't a trivial thing for your to accomplish. We are sad that we couldn't visit and thank you personally. I now know that an Arlington internment is one of being 'whisked' - here and there and it all makes sense but... So many friends and we didn't get to say hello rightly. Thank you. Your presence and support meant more than you'll ever know; to Sarah, to the Cowherd's, to the Cerri's, and to veterans everywhere.

And what to say of the ceremony itself?

We left Culpeper with a motorcycle escort and through every county and interstate we were handed off to the next jurisdiction's protection. At points there were up to 6 motorcycles and police cars guiding us through the various turns and road nuances. The coordination and dedication to make this possible were not lost on us. At the end, the motorcycle police managed to array themselves at the entrance to Arlington with a standing salute to Leonard. We never had the chance to meet, know, or thank them... They just honored him.

Of Arlington?

An old friend who lovingly...sadly opens his door for what must come. Arlington is America's memory of what makes the nation. Other memorials on the mall are wonderful and meaningful - but Arlington is not only for is of us. Generations have made this place part of the national fabric. Rich man, poor man. General, private. Lifer, conscript. All services, all heritages. Men and women who gave the full measure; honored in perpetuity.

There are no surprises at Arlington. Everything is as manicured and as perfect as nature can be made. Acres and acres of military order. Simple. Dignified. Elegant. As long as there is Arlington, there will be America.

Pulling in we were momentarily amongst the tourists. And they were not interruption - they were purpose. I too have been on the outside looking in. Now, with roles reversed, I was thankful to see those throngs coming to learn and experience and teach. I saw more than one parent pull their child aside to point and whisper a lesson of our country. I saw many stop and put their hands over their heart as we passed; simple, dignified, elegant.

The day was early-Summer, Southern gem. Hot but not stifling. Blue sky with wispy white. And the cicadas? Strangely appropriate. For you in other parts of the country, they are big but gentle things. I doubt anyone who attended didn't have at least one land on them at some point in the day. And the sound? A distant jet on the runway waiting to take off. A constant whine. And it was good...nature carrying on. And Leonard would have been fascinated and investigating.

And the ceremony?

These words, my feelings, are insignificant to describe the wash of emotion in all of this.

As the hearse door opened I placed my hands upon my daughters shoulders...and I felt her shudder. MG Blount holding her to the left,
Charles to the right, her mother, her brother, and I to her rear. The
Cowherd's a part of the single family we've all become.

The Old Guard does not make mistakes. The wooden casket came off the hearse rails with precision and practiced timing.

There were 12 chairs under the small awning erected beside the grave site; just enough seats and space for immediate family. Sarah to the right-front in her black dress. Again, her mother and I found ourselves directly behind. My son to my right shoulder and the hundreds of family and friends closed in around us. It is hard to imagine intimacy in all of this, but it was there. There were quiet and peace in that little circle amidst the vast openness of Arlington.

Have you heard Amazing Grace on bag pipe? If that little bag of wind was put on earth for no other reason than to play this one song - it would still have a place amongst all the wonderful instruments the world has ever known. And the kilted-piper didn't end his song, he just turned and walked away...till the strains faded in the cicada whine.

The prayers offered by the family minister were perfect; a soldier's prayer born of powder, honor, and hope.

The 21 guns were three, crisp firings of seven. Again, the Old Guard does not make mistakes. However, a moment to speak of those guns. Like Leonard, I am a West Pointer. Like Leonard, I religiously counted guns whenever a dignitary arrived at school. 21 reports signified a visitor with enough importance to grant the Corps amnesty for all the various troubles and peccadilloes cadets seem to manage. West Point has a lot of visitors and a lot of cannon fire but rarely 21. 18 - "peon." 20 - "oh good Lord, another wanna be." and so on.

And on this day, on this sacred ground, 21 guns were fired to honor 2LT Cowherd.

Taps... An American will always struggle during Taps. While surely a
harbinger for many, it is our heroes we cry for. Not of sadness per se - of loss. How to measure against their lives? How to reconcile against their sacrifice? How to deal with what it takes to keep America? Simple, dignified, elegant...

The flag was creased, folded, and lovingly presented to my daughter.

She understands its meaning. It currently rests in an oak case with the Army seal. It will have a place of honor always. Leonard's mother and brother each received one as well.

Stand a little stiller during your next National Anthem. That song and that flag are paid for.

And my daughter?

Leonard's Kiddo. Leonard was her everything and she is his honor.

We all have our moments, Sarah more.

I'll offer historic perspective that seems most appropriate. Stephen Pressfield recreates the words of Greek king to the families of the 300 Spartans:

"When the battle is over, when the 300 have gone..., then will Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it. But who ladies, who will the Spartans look to? To you. To you and the other wives and mothers, sisters and daughters of the fallen. If they behold your hearts riven with grief, they too will break. And Greece will break with them. But if you bear up, then Sparta will stand and all Greece will stand behind her. Why have I nominated your men and you to bear up beneath this most terrible of trials, you and your sisters of the three hundred? Because you can."

If these words ring true, then look to my daughter, Leonard's mother, my wife, and all the rest of the families' members. They are bearing up. America stands strong and proud. In Sarah's love, she has found an open heart for friends and a strength of belief that will carry her through.

Sarah's future is now at hand. I know there is a large community waiting to see... wanting proof in their faith that families are cared for. Believe. Army, VA, AER, TAPS, AFSC, Social Security and a bunch of other acronyms have checked into the net offering help both immediate and long-term. The years ahead are waiting and will write their own story. For now, no one could ask anything else.

To all of you that have been part of this thread - its been a way to keep you up to date and answer questions we know you have. I grabbed your names that first night because you needed to know or I knew you would want to know. Others have joined along the way as arrangements and details fell into place. As I tap these last words on this Memorial Day - I hope you haven't minded one man's view into what the day is all about.

Thank you for cards, and flowers, and prayers, and visits, and trips, and food, and errands, and arrangements, and condolences...and for holding our hand. You friends around the world have truly helped.

Our sails are filling with wind again and we'll all be back to work tomorrow. We know there will be awkward moments. Don't worry. Believe us...we understand. We'll all get through it. It's OK.


Tony Cerri

Now is the time at Castle Argghhh! when we dance. In Memoriam.

I have no idea how many links this post will get - but please, if this post and the one above only move you to make hateful or political comments, save it for another time, and another post. I won't be impressed with your brave political commentary, and I'll simply delete it. This isn't for the discussion of the war. This is about Memorial Day. Sad enough I feel the need to add this paragraph, but the chances are pretty good that Tony and Sarah and others will be here this weekend.

And don't forget the Minute of Silence at 3PM your local time today. Take a time out at that softball game, or from soccer, and volleyball, and whatever else you are doing (unless you are operating heavy machinery - I'll give you a break there!) and take a minute to reflect on all of those who have answered Final Post.

But don't forget to have FUN! That is part and parcel of what they bought for us. Just make sure your children understand the meaning of the holiday extends beyond the end of school and opening of the pool! And that you remember that, too...

What other bloggers are saying this memorial day:

Neptunus Lex leads with a thoughtful piece.

For another Naval take on the holiday see the sea-going Lawyer (yes, I *know* you were Surface qualified before you sold your soul...)

Blackfive leads with: Opening the Gates of Heaven

Mudville Gazette follows with Memorial Day

Val Prieto at Babalu chimes in with: "It is the soldier"

Mark Steyn apes a great mind (mine) and reruns last year's column - Memorial Day.

Michelle Malkin gives us a push to

Powerline has a Memorial Day pic.
as does Florida Cracker.

Jennifer at A Collection of Thoughts posts Memorial Day, a Day of Thanksgiving! by Col Bob Pappas, USMC (ret)

Indigo Insights, links to Passing of a Generation

Brian at Memento Moron honors his father and grandfather in his Memorial Day post. (Hat tip to Russ for this one)

Right Thinking from the Left Coast has has interesting stuff.

Russ at TacJammer offer his thoughts and an continually updated linkfest.

Mostly Cajun talks of his Forever Young comrades.

Barb, the Castle Adjutant reminds us to Remember the Fallen.

Cassandra returns from her break with this thoughtful piece. You should then just read up the line.

AFSis asks you to remember it's Memorial Day, not just Get Drunk at the Barbecue Day. (If you're going to get drunk, at least spill a little for those who are doing their drinking at Fiddler's Green, eh?)

I really like No Pundit Intended's piece.

Sergeant B waxes poetic.

Delftsman also indulges in a poetic tribute.

Airborne Combat Engineer points to some history of Memorial Day. ACE also points to Virtual Markets, which has an interesting non-blog linkfest of information pertinent to the event.

ALa at Blonde Sagacity has a suggested Memorial Day activity... while you are there - don't miss Justice's link.

RomeoCat at Cathouse Chat has a nice post that covers it all - from soldiers to families.

Laughing Wolf notes the day.

Citizen Smash gives us his take. His (and our) great pal Da Goddess weighs in here and here.

Jim Joyner at Outside the Beltway shares the President's Radio Message and has a linkfest going.

Commander Salamander posts Secretary Rumsfeld's message to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.

Joe Katzman and Robin Burk over at Winds of Change chime in.

Michael Demmons has his say.

As do Kevin McGehee and Michele Catalano (Command Post|ASV)

Cox & Forkum speak in their idiom.

Jeff Quinton lays out his thoughts.

LaShawn Barber puts in her two cents.

Terry Oglesby gives us a 'possum's-eye view.

A Jawa Reports

Professor Cori Dauber rants...

Reference those who think that not having served somehow diminishes one's patriotism and commitment - I dare you to suggest that of Dean Esmay.

Early One Morning reminds us that not all the dead from America's wars wear uniforms... yet they were also targets, not just collateral damage (and being collateral damage in no way diminishes the loss).

Scared Monkeys take time to see, hear, and speak.

Urban Grounds speaks from Austin.

Beth at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy shares her daughter's letter...

A sailor speaks.

Red State, Rants nicely!

And take some time to visit Defense Industry Daily - links there to many more stories and some fun stuff, too. Like Rolling Thunder. But perhaps as importantly, DID highlights the sacrifices of other nations - in support of the GWOT. Since we don't observe their national days of remembrance, it *is* apt that we include them in our thoughts on this day.

by John on May 28, 2005
» Techography links with: Memorial Day Post
» TacJammer links with: Memory - 2005
» Airborne Combat Engineer links with: Memorial Day links
» CatHouse Chat links with: Memorial Day
» Quotulatiousness links with: Memorial Day
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Memorial Day, 2005
» The Glittering Eye links with: Catching my eye: morning A through Z
» The Indepundit links with: Memorial Day
» The Indepundit links with: Memorial Day
» MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy links with: My thanks
» Sneakeasy's Joint links with: Sneak's wide world 30: Soldier's Memorial Day

May 19, 2005


Former Castle Afghan Correspondent MSG Keith is back on the ground in the US, at Fort Benning.

Welcome home, soldier!

Well done!

...Ciggy makes an *excellent* point! Party Thread!

by John on May 19, 2005

May 14, 2005

D-oh! (sound of hand slapping head)

In my post below (Aw Shucks, Ma'am) in which I talk about Service Clubs and Chuck Simmins pointed out that as a Rotarian, Hamas thinks I'm a *Bad Man* (you Lions, too) and a member of the Zionist Conspiracy... I completely left out another avenue of service: the Veteran's Organizations, which also do Good Things. Mr. Jewell corrected my mistake:

And lets not forget about the Veterans Service Organizations like the American Legion and the VFW We're a whole lot more than a place to get a cheap beer, tell war stories, and bellyache about the VA Budget. Volunteer oportunities abound, and you do get to occasionally handle firearms, though they may contain blanks.

That last bit is a clear recommendation to the Armorer - that and the fact that the VFW kicked my disability paperwork loose from the VA after *two* years, and that it was via the American Legion I met a soldier who had two stars on his Combat Infantryman's badge...

Some other Veteran's Organizations to note (one of which I really should support more, the DAV):

Disabled American Veterans
Military Order of the World Wars
Military Order of the Purple Heart

I was going to list more - but the more I looked, the more I found - so instead, I'll link to the Veteran's Service Organization page of the VA website - which lists all the VSO's chartered to assist veterans with the VA. However - if you know of organizations that are Veteran-oriented but not listed, please, feel free to add to the list.

And yes, I know that some of the organizations listed aren't always that supportive of the military, per se. But they exist, and do provide help to veterans when dealing with the VA, so, there ya have it. And, as we have noted here, vets can be a diverse lot.

by John on May 14, 2005

May 12, 2005

Aw, shucks, ma'am...

I am a Rotarian. So's my Dad. I'm proud to be one, as it is through Rotary I have been able to serve in a volunteer capacity in my community - and the larger world. Via Rotary I serve as a volunteer and Board member for two other organizations, and help serve the entire region of northeast Kansas. I'm more than a checkbook giver - I give my time and skills, as well.

The New York times noticed Rotary International today. It's just amazing what we small-town dentists and funeral directors can accomplish, once we put our minds to it.

Next month Rotary International turns 100. Rotary clubs, a staple of small-town life, are celebrating the construction of innumerable parks, the holding of myriad blood drives, the awarding of countless college scholarships - and the imminent global eradication of polio.

Twenty years ago, there were a thousand new cases of polio every day. Now polio strikes only about a thousand children a year. By next year, that number should be zero. People who think of Rotary as a congregation of service-minded dentists and funeral directors may not have noticed, but the dentists and funeral directors have created the largest, most successful private health initiative ever.

The (to me) breath-taking assumptions about Rotary the journo puts into her piece (and the editors may have cut stuff, too, in her defense) do show that we don't market ourselves much. We prefer to act, and have since we were justly pilloried in the 30's for much talk, little action.

And act we do, locally and internationally.

For Ms. Rosenberg's edification - here's a list of the clubs that are a staple in the "small town life" of the New York City area... we invite her to join!

If you are interested - here's the Club Locator - you can find a club just about anywhere in the US, and in 167 other countries, too, for our non-US-based visitors! You don't have to be invited - you can just show up and you'll be welcomed.

And don't think that Rotary is a rigidly PC group of people. Each club has it's own character. One of ours is that every now and then certain members brings in things like machine guns, and other historical artifacts for the meeting program (note I said *members*, plural). And, when we have an exchange group come through, we take them shooting. Last week it was a group of Argentinians and Paraguayans, who got to shoot Argentine and Paraguayan Mausers, and some Span-Am war era weapons. Last year it was a Japanese group who got to shoot Japanese and US Civil War/Indian War era weapons. So don't just assume we're all nice little liberals... *or* conservatives - we're just people who put our money and our time where our mouths are - unlike many more vocal people who just like to make signs and smash windows, he said, engaging in a little stereotyping of his own...

If you sample your local Rotary Club and find it's not to your liking - give the other service clubs a visit - the Lions, Kiwanis, Optimists, just to name a few - they all share one thing in common - organizing local leaders and interested individuals to help out in the local community. And it isn't as expensive as you might think - but it *can* be as expensive as you're willing to let it be in terms of time and money. But the rewards are tangible and intangible, and worth it. And you guys and gals in uniform - it can be challenging to be a member, but the clubs all have mechanisms that allow you to participate as active members, while accounting for all those things that can make it difficult to attend on a regular basis. Don't just *assume* you can't make it work.

by John on May 12, 2005

April 29, 2005

More intercepted Guardian Angel Traffic.

Since SPC Heartless Libertarian no longer needs the extra Guardian Angel detail, it appears that ANGCOM has diverted the team to MSG Keith, to keep him safe from "short-timer-itis!"

Subject: Status

Acer -- you aren't going to believe this, but they've changed our orders *again*. At first I thought they were going to send us back to the Tuttle detail, but by the time the stun charge wore off the guys had confirmed we're headed for Afghanistan. Good news is this Keith fellow doesn't fly helicopters. Bad news is he flys *in* them, and likes to take pictures while hanging out open bay doors. It's enough to make you grow scales.

Did you have any luck changing Pookie's status?

Stay light,


Carbo you damn bomb magnet. Who the hell did you piss off at ANGCOM? And thanks a bundle for leaving us Tuttle. We asked for volunteers (direct order for that, BTW) and I've never seen so many deaf GAs in my celestial lifetime. Got a couple of juniors to step up. They think they are badasses, THAT detail ought to set them straight.

Look, bud, Pookie is a *stuffed bear*. You can't claim him as a dependent, OK? Even if Mental Health told you to take care of him.

Watch yer six,

Hat tip to Bad Cat Robot, who runs the Castle Intercept Service.

Update: Bill isn't the only one to be hard on his Guardian Angels:

Seven soldiers awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses

Those are Silver Star equivalents, folks. Second *Third* only to the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross. Those are some abused angels!

Hat tip: Heartless Libertarian.

by John on Apr 29, 2005

April 28, 2005


Who am I to break the theme? I'm too sick right now, anyway, to want to do any thoughtful posting [Muffy, under her breath: "heh, when start?"]

I'm going to go ugly early. Everybody likes airplanes.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I have climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and
Soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along,
And flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Heh. This is what Bill's comment refers to. From this post last December - By the way, Bill - Castle Argghhh! is #1 on the net for this poem.

Which reminds me--the starched-wing folks have Magee's High Flight, but only us helo types have Anonymous's Low Flight:

Oh, I have barely slipped the muddy clutch of Earth
And thrashed the skies on dusty, untracked rotor blades;
Earthward I've auto'ed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of moths and bees--and done a thousand things
That would scare the s**t out of you--skidded and drooped and flared
At weed-level. Hov’ring there,
I've chased the frantic armadillo, and lost
The race to insignificant headwinds.
Forward, and a little up, taunting LTE
I've topped the General's hedge with drooping turns
Where never Eagle, or even Warthog flew.
And, shaking with low-frequency vibration, I've lumbered
The low uncontrolled airspace below Victor Airways,
Put out my hand and searched for FOD.

by John on Apr 28, 2005

April 08, 2005

Attention Denizens and Visitors!

New Content Below This Post!

Another Bleg, this time, not for me.

Long time readers of this space know that I am involved in charity work. Fundraising (Spirit of America, anyone?), Rotary, I sit on the Boards of two charities, local and regional.

This weekend is the American Heart Association Heart Walk.

I have two friends who have had children who nearly died from heart problems, and who live today because of the efforts of the AHA.

One has met his fundraising goal. The other, well, let's just say he's got a way to go.

If you've got some spare change - please click here and see what you can do.

Update: I've been asked the question: What's the deadline? The answer is - none, really, though there is one for "Who got the most" that isn't really relevant here. You can donate by credit card through the website, and you don't have to go as high as $25 initial - you can enter in any amount you want. You can pledge via that website, and send a check later - or, if you are one of those people who *will not* do ecommerce via the web, and don't want the American Heart Association to have your address via the donation process (I understand *both* positions) if you trust me, you can donate through me, anonymously. If you don't mind ecommerce, but *are* concerned about mass charity mailings, you can send money through me via my Paypal account - but if you choose to go through me you lose the charitiable donation aspect. But if the only reason you give is for tax purposes, well, thanks, but ya still get a *minor*, *muttered* "fooey"! 8^D It's a good cause, c'mon, if a third of ya who visit on a daily basis gave $5 that would be $2,000.00. Give it a thought, eh?


Oh, yeah - sadly, I *still* have 8 mugs to give away...

If all you can do is nothing - no worries! But if you can, seeing as how you get all this fun for free... spend a little here. You could do worse!

I'm not keeping records... but I would *love* to see R. catch M. from our efforts!

Heh, it's for the kids - one of these guys is a tanker, the other is an Aviating Infantryman - prolly a compatriot of Bill, so it sure ain't for them. But then, deep down inside we Gunners do what - support guys like them, eh?

That is all.


John of Argghhh!
Armorer and Master of Castle Argghhh!

PS - The Armorer *could* be talked into Castle mugs for the first 10 (now *8*) people to give $100 or more... just sayin'. Oh, and since I'm *not* keeping records... I'll trust you when you report. I won't demand receipts - I'm going to go by time of receipt of emails, 'k?

by John on Apr 08, 2005

April 02, 2005

John Paul II "returns to the house of the Father"

Whatever you think of the specifics of the Catholic Church - I can't get past the fact that this man, the Pope, with no "nation" to speak of. With no Army to speak of. No "Alliance" (other than, perhaps, God, the Ultimate Army) to speak of - he so frightened the Communist Powers That Were they tried to kill him. And they were right to be afraid. Such is the power of principle and example.

Requiescat in pace. Domine, dona nobis pacem.*

And no, on this post, I'm not interested in any "balancing" views whatsover. If you wish to argue, or cast aspersions, go elsewhere, or save it for later.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Apr 02, 2005

AFSis sends.

Nice little story for a weekend post...

To the World You May Just Be SOMEBODY, but to Somebody YOU ARE THE WORLD!

My Great-Grandfather lived to be 100, and boy, did his hands ever tell a story. I think you'll all like this.


Grandpa, some ninety plus years, sat feebly on the patio bench. He didn't move, just sat with his head down staring at his hands. When I sat down beside him he didn't acknowledge my presence and the longer I sat I wondered if he was OK.

Finally, not really wanting to disturb him but wanting to check on him at the same time, I asked him if he was OK. He raised his head and looked at me and smiled. Yes, I'm fine, thank you for asking, he said in a clear strong voice.

I didn't mean to disturb you, grandpa, but you were just sitting here staring at your hands and I wanted to make sure you were OK I explained to him.

Have you ever looked at your hands he asked. I mean really looked at your hands?

I slowly opened my hands and stared down at them. I turned them over, palms up and then palms down. No, I guess I had never really looked at my hands as I tried to figure out the point he was making.

Grandpa smiled and related this story:

Stop and think for a moment about the hands you have, how they have served you well throughout your years. These hands, though wrinkled, shriveled and weak have been the tools I have used all my life to reach out and grab and embrace life.

They braced and caught my fall when as a toddler I crashed upon the floor. They put food in my mouth and clothes on my back. As a child my mother taught me to fold them in prayer. They tied my shoes and pulled on my boots.

They dried the tears of my children and caressed the love of my life.

They held my rifle and wiped my tears when I went off to war. They have been dirty, scraped and raw, swollen and bent.

They were uneasy and clumsy when I tried to hold my newborn son.

Decorated with my wedding band they showed the world that I was married and loved someone special. They wrote the letters home and trembled and shook when I buried my parents and spouse and walked my daughter down the aisle.

Yet, they were strong and sure when I dug my buddy out of a foxhole and lifted a plow off of my best friends foot. They have held children, consoled neighbors, and shook in fists of anger when I didn't understand. They have covered my face, combed my hair, and washed and cleansed the rest of my body. They have been sticky and wet, bent and broken, dried and raw. And to this day when not much of anything else of me works real well these hands hold me up, lay me down, and again continue to fold in prayer. These hands are the mark of where I've been and the ruggedness of my life.

But more importantly it will be these hands that God will reach out and take when he leads me home. And with my hands He will lift me to His side and there I will use these hands to touch the face of Christ.

I will never look at my hands the same again. But I remember God reached out and took my grandpa's hands and led him home. When my hands are hurt or sore or when I stroke the face of my children and wife I thank grandpa. I know he has been stroked and caressed and held by the hands of God. I, too, want to touch the face of God and feel his hands upon my face.

To the World You May Just Be SOMEBODY, but to Somebody YOU ARE THE

Update: Reading some of the comments, and the linking posts brought it together for me. Both of my grandfathers were good at their grandfather jobs, yet very different men. Pop, my mom's dad, was pure Arkansas class (and if you don't understand/believe think Southern Gentleman) who led a good and successful life as a salesman for Graybar Electric. Wonderful storyteller, great hand to hold when he took you for walks. A warm, funny, gentle, comfortable man. I loved him dearly.

My Dad's father was different. Hardscrabble son of immigrants who came into the US from Canada, he had a dark side, and had led a tough, tough life, marked by success, marred by his dark nature. An All-American football player at the Colorado School of Mines (when was the last time CSM had an all-American, I wonder?) he joined the National Army (WWI was the last time the US raised a specific formation distinct from the Regulars or Militia/Guard for a war) and went to war with - the National Guard. After the war, he took his degree in Geology and spent years roaming the midwest and west mapping the oilfields. If you buy gas made from oil pumped from Philips fields in Kansas, Oklahoma, or Texas, you're burning gas from fields Daddy Jack surveyed. He spent 'off periods' doing work in the Candadian Rockies, and helped discover and map many of the fields near Calgary, too. He married a divorced woman with a child during the Depression - Mimi, my grandmother, Elaine, my Aunt, and sired my Dad. If you know the era, you know that was a rare act. They subsequent divorced (right after I was born) and Daddy Jack began the solitary life that I knew him from. I saw him infrequently, but he was always fun to be with, but always that dark shadow. When Dad was getting ready to go to Vietnam, he came to Denver (where Mom, my sister and I would remain) to see Dad before he went off. I could tell that Daddy Jack was very upset with Dad's imminent departure.

He lived in Palo Alto, where he moved in the 60's after he retired from Phillips, to be near the library of the University, to continue the research that kept him busy and out of trouble. In his last 7 years or so (he lived to by 95) the people who kept an eye on him for us told us that he would walk 7 miles or more a day - and mostly ate chocolate... I vividly remember going to visit him with my Dad while I was in command at Fort Riley. Daddy Jack was an artilleryman in the Great War, and he asked all sorts of questions about how we did things now - and he found our simplification of the math involved to be 'sissy' - heheheheh. But it's a testament to the Artillery School methods of instruction and instructors - that three generations of Redlegs spanning from 1917 to 1987 sat around a table writing (Daddy Jack by this time was deaf from the damage his ears took during the War and being around drill rigs) notes to each other - and not having to explain much except new terms - the concepts were still there, and the understanding of the details.

The piece Dbie sent spoke to me because when Daddy Jack was in his final days, mostly comatose, I spent hours by his bedside, holding those warm, gnarled hands that hand see and done so much - including holding my smaller, softer hands, reading to him. And if you squeezed, he squeezed back. He may have started his trek back "to the home of the father" but he still made time for me.

by John on Apr 02, 2005
» Pass The Ammo links with: These Hands
» Blog o'RAM links with: Hands
» Villainous Company links with: It's Miller Time Folks...

April 01, 2005

hzzz. good. do.

You may remember the first time Greg held a comment fund raiser for breast cancer awareness in rememberance of his wife. Well, it's the first anniversary of her death and he's holding another comment fund raiser.

All you have to do is leave a comment on the April 1 post, which will bring tears to your eyes. If you want to, you can offer up a donation, but you don't have to. Donors have pledged to make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The first comment party, in January, raised about $3,000.00, and they're hoping for $10,000.00 this time.

Please go to his site and leave a comment, and then post the link to your blogs.

Thanks everyone!

The Armorer notes: Go read the post. If you don't cry, call Ripley's. You don't have a heart and are a walking conundrum!

by name muffy on Apr 01, 2005

March 31, 2005

Sigh. At least it's over for Terri.

WELL... [Jonah Goldberg] Someone's going to have to post something after that news. So: now that she has passed let us hope and pray that Michael Schiavo was right and her parents were wrong, even if we don't believe that to be the case. Rest in peace.

Indeed, blogfather. Indeed.

We'll be back with regular content tomorrow. For now, we're just bummed and hoping that we were wrong about Terri - though we think the fight needs fighting, and isn't over.

by John on Mar 31, 2005
» links with: America murders Terri Schindler-Schiavo
» Speed of Thought links with: Terri has passed

March 27, 2005

American Walkabout, Part II.

If you need to catch up - Part I. This is the story of a young man walking across the US. In today's installment - well, anyone who has done road marching, much less managed one, will relate. It wasn't that long ago when we moved Armies like this...

Hey Lee, I'm rushed. And I've got no photo capabilities right now, sorry. Thank You.

It's been a week since Rory and I flew to LAX. We did our vacationing while we stayed with my cousin Kristen and her husband Nick in Hermosa Beach. On Tuesday Kristen drove us down to Costa Mesa where we stayed with my friend Mally. Wednesday morning we got up and went to the ocean in Huntington Beach where we started our walk. We wanted to get our feet in the ocean and take our picture, but didn't want to take our shoes off because they're hard to put back on when you've got a bag weighing nearly sixty pounds on your back. But our boots are waterproof, so we thought we'd be able to simply stand at the water's edge...BAM! The unpredictable waves came up to our knees and we were drenched. I could feel my socks squishing under my feet as I made a useless attempt to run from the ocean's arms.

Our plan was to walk up the Santa Ana River Trail as far as Orange, California where I had arranged for us to stay in a Methodist church there. We changed our socks, but our shoes were still wet, so we put on yet another pair of socks a few miles later when we stopped for lunch at a park along the trail. We quickly learned that Rory and I have a different pace, so when we walk, one of us will be in front while the other is about 40 yards behind. But before we take any turns, the lead man will wait for the other, that way we won't lose each other. Our goal was to average 20 miles a day, and I'm not sure what that was based on, but it's no longer our goal. I think we did a few miles over that the first day, but we were completely exhausted when we made it to Orange. It wasn't supposed to be that far to Orange, but the trail detoured and we got directions from a homeless man who insisted that "this road right here will take you right to the church in a few miles." That was at mile eleven. By mile twenty, we were ready to hunt the homeless man down, had we the energy left.

We weren't even in Orange, we were in Santa Ana. Once we walked to where the church should be, we realized we were a whole town away. Finally, after much pain and agony, and after Rory's shoulder had been cramping up for ten miles, we made it to Orange. But by then, we couldn't think straight, so we were lost in the city. I called the church, but again, the directions I got I couldn't seem to comprehend. We dicided we could make it, even though they promised it was only a few blocks away. We got a room at the Best Western in Orange.

The Rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

by John on Mar 27, 2005

March 24, 2005

Terry Schiavo

The appeal is before the Supreme Court.

Update: Which they just refused. I'm pretty much thinking that the deliberate starvation of a human being to death is a done deal. And now, we'll just ignore it and not address the underlying issues. Feh.

Then there's this, via National Review Online - a licensed, certified neurologist who examined Terri in the last month contends she *is* aware of what's going on around her.

Sigh. It doesn't get any easier, does it? I'm still for letting her live.

In Love With Death The bizarre passion of the pull-the-tube people.

Thursday, March 24, 2005 12:01 a.m. EST

God made the world or he didn't.

God made you or he didn't.

If he did, your little human life is, and has been, touched by the divine. If this is true, it would be true of all humans, not only some. And so--again, if it is true--each human life is precious, of infinite value, worthy of great respect.

Most--not all, but probably most--of those who support Terri Schiavo's right to live believe the above. This explains their passion and emotionalism. They believe they are fighting for an invaluable and irreplaceable human life. They are like the mother who is famously said to have lifted the back of a small car off the ground to save a child caught under a tire. You're desperate to save a life, you're shot through with adrenaline, your strength is for half a second superhuman, you do the impossible.

That is what they are trying to do.

They do not want an innocent human life ended for what appear to be primarily practical and worldly reasons--e.g., Mrs. Schiavo's quality of life is low, her life is pointless. They say: Who is to say it is pointless? And what does pointless even mean? Maybe life itself is the point.

I'll let Peggy Noonan continue her discussion of the "Cult of Death" (my words, not hers, here. And no, Alan, Jack, Sanger, Walter - just because we are on opposite sides of this issue doesn't mean I lump you in the group. Fellow-travelers abound. But the "Cult of Death" meme is what makes this, and other, cases important to me. Each of you comes at this from a slightly different perspective, be it legal, political, moral and I don't think any of you posit all aspects in all ways.

So, you can disagree with me, and I can be vehement on these pages, which are aimed at larger audience than just us who converse here - without either side demonizing the other - which we've done pretty well, so far, I think. But for me, this is a fight larger than Terri Schiavo - like OIF is a campaign in a larger war, not a war in and of itself, so too is the fight to save Terri.

Your mileage may vary. Jack's, (of Random Fate who appears throughout the comments on this subject here) mileage certainly does, if not as much as his rhetoric sometimes would indicate. As he expounds here.

by John on Mar 24, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: The Armorer Speaks, and the Chief has a headache..
» links with: Terri Schiavo blogger roundup

March 23, 2005

Terry Schiavo

AS WE PASS 100 HOURS OF STARVATION AND DEHYDRATION ... [Andy McCarthy] it is worth remembering that the excruciating slowness of the execution here, the incremental-ness of death, is designed by its champions to inure us to it. After the first hour, the second passes with far less fanfare, and the third less still. I've been following this closely, and I needed to remind myself today how many hours Terri Schiavo has actually been without sustenance by counting the days since Friday afternoon and multiplying by 24. How much more easily the time passes, and the world around us changes, for those following only fleetingly, or not at all.

Why should we think this is intentional? Consider, say, a month ago, before Terri's plight took center stage, if you had asked someone in the abstract: "How would you feel about starving and dehydrating a defenseless, brain-damaged woman?" The answer is easy to imagine: "Outrageous, atrocious -- something that wouldn't be done to an animal and couldn't be done to the worst convicted murderer."

But then it actually happens ... slowly. You're powerless to stop it, and ... you find your life goes on. There are kids and jobs and triumphs and tragedies and everyday just-getting-by. An atrocity becomes yet another awful thing going on in the world. After a day, or maybe two, of initial flabbergast, we're talking again about social security reform, China, North Korea, Hezbollah, etc. A woman's snail-like, gradual torture goes from savagery to just one of those sad facts of life. As is the case with other depravities once believed unthinkable, it coarsens us. We slowly, and however reluctantly, accept it. We accept it. The New York Times no doubt soon "progresses" from something like "terminating life by starvation," to "the dignity of death by starvation," to "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as starvation." And so the culture of life slides a little more. The culture of death gains a firmer foothold.

Of course, the physical needs of the body are not limited to food and water. There is also air. But no judge, even in Florida, would ever have had the nerve in Terri's case to permit "the medical procedure that opponents refer to as asphyxiation." Too crude. Too quick. Too obviously murder of a vulnerable innocent. Brazen, instant savagery might wake us from our slumber. For the culture of death, better that we sleep.

Update: I just realized I did this badly - those are *NOT* my words, they are Andy McCarthy's, and they come from National Review's Blog, The Corner. Their debate mirrors ours, and is as civil.

I *still* think this was/is an important fight - not just for Terri - but for society, as we need to confront this issue and hash it out. Sadly, I think "my side" is losing at this point. The Cult of Death (seems odd, coming from a soldier, no?) is winning.

And as I said - it's not unanimously pro-Terri over there. Derbyshire:

ABANDONED TO RHETORIC [John Derbyshire] Andy, I fear you have, as Robert Morley says in Around the World in 80 Days, "abandoned yourself to rhetoric."

You write: "Consider, say, a month ago, before Terri's plight took center stage, if you had asked someone in the abstract: 'How would you feel about starving and dehydrating a defenseless, brain-damaged woman?' The answer is easy to imagine: 'Outrageous, atrocious -- something that wouldn't be done to an animal and couldn't be done to the worst convicted murderer.'"

Why try to imagine the answer? The people of Florida were asked that in 1999. See here, for example:

"In 1999, in response to a Florida Supreme Court ruling, the Florida legislature updated its 'end of life' statutes, which were first put into place in 1990. The House and Senate voted unanimously in support of a number of changes to the text. One of those changes added to the list of 'life-prolonging procedure': including artificially provided sustenance and hydration, which sustains, restores, or supplants a spontaneous vital function.

"Governor Jeb Bush signed the bill in June of that year.

"So in 1999, the entire Florida legislative and executive branch voted for a law that authorized the withdrawal of sustenance to a PVS patient at the request of an appointed guardian or a licensed social worker, in the event that no interested relative was available.

"The 1999 bill wasn't unusual in any way and is consistent with many other states--in fact, it is considered a model for state law. Withdrawing sustenance is standard procedure for PVS and comatose patients, even though they can't speak for themselves. The St. Petersburg Times covered a few local cases that occurred in March alone."

Terri Schiavo's situation has been considered, in its generality, by the deliberative bodies of the State of Florida. Whatever is happening to her now is happening with all the levels of approval of which a democratic state is capable. Is is as well authorized as anything can be under our Constitution and laws.

I understand that you feel strongly about this; and it is of course possible that you are right and the people of Florida wrong. (In which case, you should agitate to have these laws, and the similar laws in many other states, changed.) Still and all, some token word of respect for the democratically expressed will of We the People would not go amiss.

For Jack, I offer this, from CodeBlueBlog. Somehow, I'm sure Jack will find a counterpoint somewhere... Don't bother Jack, they're out there, and this is an opinion piece... I'm not after balance today. I'm feeling all curmudgeonly.

Update: More stuff that gets to the larger issues.

I have seen a number of news broadcasters and commentators suggest that the moral of the story is that everyone should have an advance directive. But this is only part of the story. The real moral of the story is that courts—both federal and state—are not particularly good venues for deciding these kind of contentious moral issues. Contrary to all the screaming about the influence of politics on this matter, it is precisely the political branches that should be weighing in, and passing laws to prevent future Schiavos. (Indeed, Krauthammer has suggested that they weigh in to specifically save Schiavo.) Anyone who doubts the respective capacity of the branches to resolve disputed moral questions need only recall that the representational function of government which gave us the Declaration of Independence (" . . . all men are created equal . . .), and the judicial branch which has given us such glowing statements as Dred Scott and Plessy.

People should have advance directives, but they should do a good many things that people don’t do. We need to have general norms in place for when people become afflicted with these kinds of conditions without directives, and if those norms do not comply with public sentiments of right (which seems to be the issue with Schiavo), it should be the political branches, not the courts, which alter those norms.

Another hat tip to National Review - and a link to the whole thing at No Left Turns.

For Monteith - a discussion of the Federalism issues. Well, kinda. Doesn't answer his "Interstate Commerce clause question - but I think (lawyers chime in) this is really being approached from a habeas perspective. Sorry - NYT registration required. This op-ed also touches on my point - this is an issue we need to decide socially and via the legislatures - and not by judicial fiat, which *is* the favorite approach of the "cult of death."

by John on Mar 23, 2005
» links with: Latest roundup of blogs about Terri
» Random Fate links with: A comment that turned into a post
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Interviews and Current Events

March 22, 2005

Ahhhh. Sweet.

Maintaining this space is a lot more work than I realized it would be. Much of that is internally-driven, some of it externally - by those bassid spammers and such. And some of it is simply self-inflicted.

One of the reasons I invited Dusty and Bill to join the team was to spread the load. That way I wouldn't have to continually try to find stuff (this is where the self-abuse comes in... I'm driven to get something up every day... though I do try for *quality* stuff...).

And that's been working pretty well. The tone of the blog has gotten a little lighter with Bill's presence, and it has broadened out, even if I've let myself get surrounded by aviators - and that is reflected in a broader readership - which has resulted in some of you guys sending stuff that I can use, further making life easier. I begin to see the problems faced day-to-day by newspapers...

Anyway - I brought all this up to share this, the kind of email that makes it worthwhile:


Back in the 60's my best friend, still is, was an airline pilot with a number of mutual friends serving as military pilots, 'Nam and all. Short story long, we used to pick up the 'Nam bound guys at Travis AFB, and take them out for as much fun as we could find in the SF Bay area, usually a lot, before taking them to SFO for their final stage flite to 'Nam.

These were all fighter pilot guys, mostly F-100's, so there was never a shortage of the NS,TIW stories.

Tnx for bringing all these heroes back into my thinking. Pre websites and emails, we got a lotta snail mail thank you's from the greatest bunch of American's you could ever know.

BTW, we all had POW bracelets in those days, I was, well he was, lucky enough that I was able to send mine to him on his return. An indescribable feeling.
Enough too much to drink rambling, thanks for everything, your actions and
your capability to bring forth positive memories.

Mike D.

Speaking for all of us - you're welcome, Mike.

Speaking of Bill - I was rummaging through the National Archives (scrup'ls are wonderful hackers) and came across a picture of Bill doing some early work in Army aviation. It involved aircraft recovery and towing, apparently. No wonder we prefer helicopters for this sort of thing these days...

ARAV-30-1369 Pioneering Army aviators, led by 2LT William Tuttle, are shown here demonstrating in-flight tow hook-ups for disabled aircraft.

Or something like that. Muffy said that's what it said, anyway.

by John on Mar 22, 2005

March 21, 2005

Terry Schiavo

Perhaps has a another chance in a different venue.

A couple of observations... 173 Members of Congress, 71 Republicans and 102 Democrats, chose, for one reason or another, to not vote. Perhaps as simple as they weren't there, this being Sunday maneuvering. I don't know. But if my Congressman didn't vote - I would be asking them why today. As I said, might be perfectly legit - but if they didn't vote - I'd still ask why, and what they would have voted... not that I'd expect an answer.

I don't have the time for this, either, frankly - but I'm curious on what the death penalty positions are of the Dems who voted against the bill are, too.

Heh. Suddenly they are Federalists?

Many Democrats who opposed the bill said the congressional vote placed lawmakers in the middle of issues best left to state courts and family members.

"Today, congressional leaders are trying to appoint Congress as a judge and jury," said Rep. Jim Davis, D-Fla. "If we do not draw the line in the sand today, there is no limit to what democratic principles this Congress will ignore or what liberties they may trample on next."

Update: Chadd (in the comments) is not the only one to have noticed the curious position of the Democrats vis-a-vis Terri and Elian. Hat tip: The Blogfather.

Alan - the post under the link to the Blogfather might perhaps address some of your questions from a legal interpretation perspective.

by John on Mar 21, 2005
» links with: Terri Schiavo: Observations and links

March 20, 2005

American Walkabout...

MSG Keith Sends:

Thought the denizens might like this story (actually stories...). This was one of my guys in Bosnia. Pretty good journalist. Damn good kid. Rather than try to explain, I'll let the intro do that. I have about 6 updates from him. I won't send all of them unless you think it's something you're interested in running.

You will, I was, he has, and I'm going to run them as a Sunday Serial, so to speak. I'm beginning to get the hang of how the big bloggers do it - have a growing stable of people who provide pre-written comment! Takes the pressure off on a Sunday morning, lemme tell ya!

Now to let Guy tell his story.

Sgt. Choate, Chris de Klerk of Take A Hike, and Rory Hutson

I'm tired of explaining this already, so I'm going to cut and paste the press release the Army sent out on Me, Rory, and our trip...
Arkansas Army Reserve Soldier prepares to walk across America

Curiosity about American culture is propelling an Army Reserve Soldier from Beebe, Ark., to walk a coast-to-coast path across the United States beginning this month.

"Sometimes I wonder what people's lives are like in random places like Dundee, Kansas or Gibsonia, Pennsylvania," said Sgt. Guy D. Choate of the 343rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, North Little Rock, Ark., in providing one reason for his seemingly daunting trip. He also plans to promote the Army Reserve during the trip and will work with various Reserve units along his route to fulfill training requirements. [ed. note - gotta like that - dedication to service!]

Choate and childhood friend Rory Hutson will spend an estimated six months walking across the United States for what he calls an "American Walkabout."

Choate and Hutson, who met when their parents enrolled the 4-year-olds in the same daycare facility in Beebe, Ark., are planning to fly to Los Angeles on Feb. 5 and stay with a family member of Choate's for a few days while they make last-minute preparations for the walk.

The two 23-year-olds are taking two backpacks, two down sleeping bags, a tent, a small first-aid kit, two or three changes of clothes, a small cook stove, two cameras, two journals, two iPods, food and water.

Choate said they have a vague idea of their route.

"We know point A is Los Angeles and point B is New York City," Choate said, "and then we know there's about 3,500 miles or so in the middle."

Choate is a creative nonfiction writing major and journalism minor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, while Hutson is a film student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. Although they are looking forward to the trip, they also said they are looking forward to returning to school and being able to apply their road experiences to their academics. [ed. note: not to snark here, but isn't "creative nonfiction writing" what got Dan Rather in trouble? Just sayin'...]

The two will document their journey with video and digital cameras, but have no specific plans yet to produce a finished product.

Choate joined the Army Reserve in 1999 as a print/photojournalist and was deployed as a NATO peacekeeper to Bosnia in 2003 as a member of the 343rd.

Take a Hike, an outdoor outfitter in Little Rock; the Army Reserve and the Beebe News are sponsoring their trip.

My iPod says I've got 5.5 days worth of music loaded into it, but I've still got lots to go before I'm done. I've got a 12-page book review to write, left over from last semester when I begged for an extension. Now I'm wishing I would have just whipped something mediocre up and turned it in. It would be nice to relax in these last few days before I extract myself from ordinary life again. Instead, I've got a list of things I've got to get done before I can relax ("relax" rhymes with "tax," something else to do on my list). I'll be stressed right up until I get on that plane and the wheels come off the ground. I feel like my life is a plane about to take off. I'm running as fast as I can go down the runway right now, and then on Saturday, I'll pull my wheels off the ground and glide into this (give or take) six month journey I've arranged for myself.

It's an odd feeling when you walk away from someone, knowing you aren't going to see them again in a relatively long time. Places and things trigger the same reaction. As I was enjoying my government-contracted meal at Golden Corral yesterday, I was thinking, "This will be the last time I sit here, being not involved in my party's conversation and eating imitation crab meat for at least six months." Sadness washed over so much I think the lights in the dining room may have dimmed a bit. And then last night, I ate frog legs with my cousin Lee and his girlfriend Krystal at the Flying Fish. They drove all the way from Jonesboro just because they're going to miss my party. (Hands down, they win the cousin/cousin's girlfriend award of the week, unless of course Arant shows up with Wilbur from Dallas and maybe 20 bucks.) I'm not going to see them again for at least six months. Not that I'm too sure I see them that often now, but if I wanted to, I could. I know I won't see you all before I leave, but know that I wanted to. When I get back, we'll catch up. The world should do more catching up. Why do I only realize this when I'm saying goodbye, rather than sitting around playing XBOX? The mind boggles.

I'm going to try and send out sporadic updates via e-mail. Somehow your e-mail address has gotten added to my list. If you don't want to be on this list, just let me know and I'll take your name off. Until then, enjoy.

In case some of you didn't get the invitation, I'm having a small send-off party at my grandparents' place in Beebe at 7.00pm tomorrow. It's Hawaiian themed (since that's the only state we can't walk to), so dress accordingly. You don't have to come, but don't think you aren't invited. RSVP the party coordinator at (If you need directions, ask the PC when you RSVP.)

I look forward to your questions and comments. Peace.


P.S. No buses or boats, no planes, no trains, no automobiles, no razor scooters or Vespas, no roller-skates, no skateboards, no hoverboards, no surf boards, no kayaks, canoes, no dune buggies, no go-carts, no golf carts, no bicycles, motorcycles, no thumbs sticking out like flags, no subway systems, no hot-air balloons or hang gliders, and great scott! no time machines. No big wheels, no power wheels, skis or snowboards. Just feet. Just walking. Just one foot in front of the other. Yeah, just a lot of that.

I admit it - I eny him his freedom to make this choice. I might not make the same choice at this point in my life, but I don't truly have the freedom to, either... as a result of earlier choics I made! Come back next week for part II!

by John on Mar 20, 2005

March 19, 2005

Terry Schiavo

As Terry enters the first full day of her judicially-directed, medically-monitored death-by-dehydration... some observations.

Under Florida law, you do this to a dog, you go to jail and get fined.

Under Florida law, you can't do this to a condemned inmate. It would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

But you can do it to Terry.

I know it's not *quite* that simple. But when you reduce it to that level... what else is it but a judicial murder-by-neglect?

Oh, I forgot. It's not murder. The Judge said it was okay.


Sometimes I really really really dislike being a grown-up. The whole rule-of-law thing.

I spent a good chunk of my adult life in a business where you can find yourself making hard choices, and life or death decisions. But, generally, you were also taking the risks.

Right now, I'm glad I'm not a church-going, confirmed, openly-religious person with s specified doctrine I should be showing some adherence to.

Because in my heart of hearts I know what I want to see happen.

If Terry dies this way - I hope the Michael Schiavo dies this way too. Trapped in his head, unable to communicate, and fully aware of what is happening.

I want him to know despair.

Your mileage may vary. S'okay.

I only hope that this is true... and that the people who are describing it truly understand what's going on.

But I remember the pictures and video of starving children in Africa - just because you have given up to despair, and don't seem to care any more... well, that doesn't mean you don't really care.

Fr. Rob isn't too keen on Terri's "Exit Protocol" and the double-speak contained therein.

This whole thing really revolves around what's going on inside Terri's head.

SWWBO has some thoughts on this, as well.

Barb is keeping running tabs.

All these bloggers are blogging to help save Terri's life:

by John on Mar 19, 2005
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Terri - Time has run out

March 14, 2005

Terry Schiavo

From the Dallas Morning News today:

American society is about to enter dangerous territory, in which the slow-motion killing of a woman by her faithless husband will have been sanctioned by the court. After Terri's death, where will we draw the line between one's right to privacy and another's right to life? Are our legislatures to have no say in the matter?

It is inconvenient to Michael Schiavo and to the Florida courts that Terri Schiavo continues to live and that her parents won't relent and let her die of thirst and starvation. If Mr. Schiavo prevails, then every person whose life is considered of negligible quality by a court or a legal guardian could be condemned. There is more at stake here than the fate of one solitary woman. After this Friday, it becomes possible that, in this country, if the unwanted and the weak are simply too burdensome to us as individuals, that the right to rid ourselves of inconvenient lives will be our courts' guiding principle.

George P. Bush, lawyer, Governor Jeb Bush's son.

We've discussed this here before, and there is some diversity of opinion among us - just as there is among readers of National Review's The Corner blog.

I ran across this today - and it simply further cements my belief that Ms. Schiavo should not have her feeding tube pulled.

Kate Adamson is the mother of two who suffered a double brain stem stroke and was in a coma for 70 days. She was completely unresponsive to stimuli and was diagnosed as being in a persistent vegetative state. Doctors finally pulled her feeding tube and, for eight days, she lay dying. Instead of being unconscious as the doctors believed she was aware of everything.

During an interview on the O'Reilly Factor in 2003 she recounted the dehydration experience:

O'REILLY: When they took the feeding tube out, what went through your mind?

ADAMSON: When the feeding tube was turned off for eight days, I thought I was going insane. I was screaming out in my mind, "Don't you know I need to eat?" And even up until that point, I had been having a bagful of Ensure as my nourishment that was going through the feeding tube. At that point, it sounded pretty good. I just wanted something. The fact that I had nothing, the hunger pains overrode every thought I had.

Bob & Mary Schindler have invited Kate Adamson to address the Florida State House Committee on the Judiciary and share her remarkable story. Adamson, author of "Kate's Journey" and a renowned disability rights activist, hopes her story will change the way Terri is being perceived by those who hold her life in their hands.

Due to a catastrophic brain stem stroke, Kate was dependent on a feeding tube for all her nourishment and had the tube turned off for over a week. She, unlike most others, can understand what Terri is going through. Doctors had given up hope that Kate would ever recover, but she is now fully functional except for some paralysis on the left side of her body.

"I have a unique understanding of what Terri is feeling. I could feel everything that the doctors did to me, and I could do nothing. I was at the complete mercy of others, and they couldn't hear me. I have been given the opportunity to speak on behalf of one that has been robbed of her voice. We are praying that God will move on the hearts of Governor Bush and the Florida Legislature to stand up and protect the right of Terri not to be starved to death."

For those interested in taking action in support of Terri Schiavo here are a number of action items:

  • Pray for Terri Schiavo, her family and our government officials

  • Blog - make known Terri's plight and these action items. You can join the list of BlogsforTerri here.

  • Support Florida House Bill 701 and Senate Bill 2128 by calling your Flordia representatives.

  • Support the Federal Incapacitated Person's Protection Act (click here) by calling your Federal representatives

  • Ask Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene and put Terri in protective custody (click here)

  • Finally, BlogsforTerri is sponsoring an ongoing campaign to bypass the mainstream media by purchasing advertising (click here).

    Your mileage may vary.

    by John on Mar 14, 2005
    » Righty in a Lefty State links with: Terry Schiavo countdown

    March 10, 2005

    I need a tidy-up post for some loose ends...

    BTW - for you repeat visitors - I've been adding to this post all day.

    There are many retired vets in Leavenworth. Some well-off, most of us comfortable, some of us, well, aren't. Interestingly enough, the better-off you are, around here, the less likely you are to fly a flag... I wonder what it is about that.

    The route I generally take to work each day passes by the home of a former Marine, who flies a US flag and a Marine Corps flag. The house is worn but serviceable, the gentleman is a WWII vet and his mobility is declining. For years, when his flags start to get tattered, the "Flag Elf" has paid a visit to his house, leaving new flags on the porch. This year the Elf noticed that while the new flags had been picked up, they hadn't been raised. Then the Elf was driving by one day and saw why. The Marine is in a wheelchair now. So, there was a drive-by flag-swapping that night.

    The Armorer respects private property and would *never* tresspass. Nope. Not me! Never! *Ever* Well, except in small countries at the direction of the government.

    I tell this story because the Flag Elf had a problem he came to me with. Whattaya do with old US flags? Believe it or not, you really aren't supposed to dump 'em in the trash. But an enterprising group of Vets has banded together to address this issue:

    Please share the below message with your weBLOG viewers. We'd appreciate it if you'd give us a little publicity so we can get some website traffic for a change. We really do good work, but no one knows about us! Thank you very much!

    - - - - - -

    You can retire your tattered, worn out and frayed American flags without cost to you. Send your flags to the Kitchen Table Gang Trust, 42922 Avenue 12, Madera, CA 93638-8866 and we will dispose of your flags in a proper and dignified manner with full honors and dignity pursuant to the United States Flag Code Section 8K. We have been doing this for he past seven years. Our flag retirement ceremonies are held on Flag Day, June 14th each year and are conducted by an all volunteer U.S. Marine Corps Honor Guard led by GySgt. Dan Kelley USMC (Ret.).


    Charles Taliaferro

    I know the local Flag Elf uses this service.

    God, I love soldiers. So does the Heartless Libertarian.

    Heh. The Army Times covers Milblogs - but they missed us. Sniff. Good on the ones they did note, however. Scoooorrrre! Hat tip to the Heartless Libertarian.

    If you haven't read the post below about "You know you've been in Iraq too long when..." I'll wait while you go catch up.

    Back? Okay - let's focus on this one:

    "You're in the Navy and you realize you are in the middle of the desert, the exact opposite of being in the middle of the ocean, where one might normally find the Navy."

    How about we change it to read...

    You're in the Navy and you realize you are in the middle of the desert, the exact opposite of being in the middle of the ocean, where one might normally find the Navy - and you just got a Bronze Star (with "V" for Valor) for ground combat?

    Hat tip to WillyShake, the submariner at Unconsidered Trifles.

    I've been awfully nice to sailors lately. Let's balance the Karma.

    Let's move on with a head nod to the Jarheads - Neffi sends this along with the following words:

    Hey, here's one the Jarheads might like. This was taken near Gilcrest, CO at Thanksgiving. Corn mazes are popular around here...

    And, OMIGAWD - I can't join the Israeli Army anymore. Apparently I'm detached from reality and a poor security risk. Hmmm. That would explain the pilfered nukes in the basement.

    Heh. Just heh.

    D-uh. Just d-uh. (The NYT, not Cassie)

    Now this bit from Kevin Drum is interesting... I'd have to say when it comes to politics, we're pretty critical... move us out of politics and we get more supportive. Or timewasting, anyway.

    Ruh-roh. We have 8 of these potential miscreants in the house...

    What the Blogfather said.

    I'm with Jeff Jacoby on this one. These are just the baby steps. The hard work is helping them learn to walk on their own. And that is going to require patience. Too bad if it sounds like I'm infantilizing the residents of the Middle East. When it comes to economic freedom and self-governance... they are new at it, as far as these generations who are going to have to make it work are concerned.

    American Soldier has a post you should go read - and the comments.

    by John on Mar 10, 2005
    » Techography links with: Life thoughts Round Up
    » Righty in a Lefty State links with: More on the 81st coming home

    March 03, 2005

    Terry Schiavo

    What he said.

    And his commenters, too.

    by John on Mar 03, 2005

    February 24, 2005

    Terri Schiavo

    I won't presume to speak for Dusty and Bill - but I *am* the senior editorial voice of this little corner of the Internet. They have the ability to post their opinions should they wish. As you can in the comments. No savaging each other, either. If you can't be polite about it - I'm not interested in what you have to say. Passion is fine. Personal attacks will just piss me off and get you banned.

    In my adult life I have saved life. I have taken life. Most of my adult life has been focused on how to kill people, break things, and control what's left, and the larger context of human interaction into which miltary action fits.

    Regardless of the twisted thinking of some - that doesn't make me a friend of, or a glorifier, of death. If anything, like my father, and my war veteran grandfather before himI will err on the side of caution, and act disproportionately to save life. If only because my personal ghosts remind me of the permanence of death, regardless of your belief of what lies after.

    Since what lies after is eternity, I choose to err on the side of caution on what is, statistically, the short end of the stick - excepting you reincarnationists, who have some more chances on the wheel.

    Because of that - I am *not* a fan of the death penalty. I am *not* a fan of abortion - though I have not slipped into the abolitionist camp, and I choose generally not to judge the women who make the choices they make - but then lately it's become obvious with this group I'm a hopeless dewy-eyed liberal. I make exception for ego-driven, "I want a boy/girl, not a girl/boy," kinds of reasons. I will judge. But I won't throw it in your face if you don't throw it in mine.

    I am relentlessly opposed to euthanasia, your 'right to die' too easily gets twisted to eventuate someone else's 'right to kill' as we have seen in Europe.

    And might be about to see in Florida. And by starvation, no less, because of an astounding lack of moral courage. It's okay in some eyes to allow Terry Schiavo to starve to death... it would be *murder* to just go ahead and kill her, eh? Crapweasel logic. Moral cowardice. Base and venal, beneath contempt. I at least know what I am - and what I did, and will do. I accept responsibility, not dodge behind a very thin reed to hide.

    I thought we'd progressed a few thousand years beyond the time when the unwanted were put out to die by exposure... at least a quicker death than starvation.

    I have a friend whose wife has multiple sclerosis, and badly. Doctors have told him that by this time in the progression of the disease, most spouses have divorced, if only to put the financial and, frankly, support burden on the state.

    Not my friend. Even though the woman he tends is in her late 40's, and has been like this for over a decade, and the burden has ruined his career chances, and kept him tied to this one place in a manner of stasis - day after day after day he cares for her. He has raised their daughter (who helps). He works full time to provide. He helps her eat, he bathes her, he changes her diaper, all of it. And whle she is more interactive certainly than Terry is, it's as often bad as it is good. He gave his word. In sickness and in health. For richer and for poorer. And he stands by her, and on those days when she's feeling well, he gets some positive feedback, a little tiny spark of what once was. But if there were none of that, still he would be there. If it weren't for this - he would be in the six-figure salary range... with at least a leading 2, and easily 7 figures in the bank. He's not close to to half of that for salary - and what little is in the bank goes to college. He is more a hero than I have ever been.

    In the military we are fond of quoting John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends."

    It's actually comparatively easy to do in combat. You are in a fey mood in a fey place. I submit that greater love hath no man than this: that he sacrifice his future for his wife, and does so knowing he will have to live it. Change gender as appropriate.

    I know this is a complicated case, and it may well be true that Terri said she didn't want to be kept on life support. Michael may be acting in what he perceives is her interest - though it strikes me his self-interest is open to question. But there is greater issue than Terri - and that is the issue of "other people choosing" as is happening in Europe. My mother has a living will. She has my sister as executrix, because she knows my father would fail that test. You have a responsibility to lawfully record your wishes if you wish to die. If you don't - then I say the slippery slope stops here. Sorry. The Unintended Consequences trump.

    We can't all be Gabriele Helms. Or my friend. But we can make our voices heard.

    So count me among the defenders of Terri Schiavo and her parent's fight to save her from her husband's selfish greed - like the esteemed Mistress of the Castle, and these other people, trying to hold back the darkness of death by neglect.

    Huh. When I started, I expected 10 minutes and three paragraphs. Looks like I misunderestimated. Guess I feel more strongly about this than I thought.

    by John on Feb 24, 2005

    February 17, 2005

    News you can use. The Anti-Baldwin

    Denzel Washington on occasion will make political pronouncements that make me wince, but not often. And even if he was the Moonbat Baldwin or Streisand are, I'd forgive much for this.

    Danzel Washington was visiting BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio) the other day. This is where soldiers that have been evac'd from Germany come to be hospitalized in the States. They have buildings there called Fisher Houses. The Fisher House is a hotel that soldier's families can stay at, for little or no charge, while their soldier is staying in the hospital. BAMC has quite a few of these houses on base, but as you can imagine, they are almost filled to the brim most of the time. While Denzel Washington was visiting BAMC, they gave him a tour of one of the Fisher Houses. He asked how much one of them would cost to build. He got his check book out and wrote a check out for the full amount right there on the spot. The soldiers overseas were amazed to hear this story and want to get the word out to the American public, because it warmed their hearts to hear it.

    As is my habit with things like this, I checked Snopes, where they have more on the story. Mebbe I'll go watch Glory again...

    by John on Feb 17, 2005

    February 16, 2005

    A fight with a cannon - The USS San Francisco grounding.

    I asked the submariners I know visit the Castle to come comment on the my post regarding the USS Jimmy Carter. The responses thus far have been interesting, but I am most interested in the post over at Unconsidered Trifles. Not because he discusses the USS Jimmy Carter, which he does, and not favorably from a naming perspective, but rather for his Update to the post, in which he discusses the apparent fate of CDR Mooney, Captain of the USS San Francisco when she ran aground. Apparently things are not going well for the Commander.

    At Unconsidered Trifles, the Submariner notes (emphasis in original)

    But, look it, before this investigation we all agreed that it would be precipitous and arrogant to assume wrongdoing on the part of the Captain or crew without having all the facts. So why can't we extend the same open-mindedness to the head of the investigation, Vice Adm. Greenert, Commander of the 7th Fleet? That's all I'm asking.

    I am not competent to judge. What I've had to say on the subject was covered in this post on the subject. I said in my close:

    Update II: Rumblings among the submariners is that CDR Mooney's future may not be all that bright... and there is some discontent in the ranks over what is seen is a hazard of navigation being treated as a failure in command. I'm not fit to judge, so I won't, and we'll see what we see and hear what we hear. We certainly don't have the whole story yet.

    All of this brings to mind a story, illustrative of Command and Duty, and Responsibility. I've posted it in it's entirety in the Flash Traffic/Extended Post. Before you make up your mind - I invite you to read one of my favorite war stories - A Fight With A Cannon, by Victor Hugo. Remember, in some ways, the rules are different for the people who go down to the sea in ships. Read this before you judge. Then feel free to offer your thoughts. It's long for a blogpost - but worth the effort if you want to look into the mind military.

    Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows »

    by John on Feb 16, 2005

    January 13, 2005

    Greater love...

    ...hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends."

    John 15:13

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you, "Gabriele Helms, Assistant Professor of English at the University of British Columbia."

    Mother. In the absolute truest sense of the word.

    Lest anyone doubt - I am one who finds "life of the mother" a perfectly acceptable criteria for abortion, except when it's twisted to 'lifestyle,' then my contempt button starts flashing.

    But this, this is, well, unlike the debased current usage of the word, what this woman did truly is Awesome, in the biblical sense.

    by John on Jan 13, 2005

    January 11, 2005

    Don't hang up - hear me out!

    Another fundraiser - this one is painless. It doesn't cost *you* a dime.

    From a comment on SWWBO's site:

    OT: Greg Hammonds, whose wife died of breast cancer, is hosting a comment fundraiser with the money raised to go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s programs for education and low-cost or free mammograms for low-income women. For every comment made, he or another of the sponsors will donate $1. So, if you have the time to simply comment or even better to provide a link to direct traffic there, it would be super :D

    Got it? All you have to do is visit that site by clicking this link - leave a comment, and *other people* will donate money to the cause.

    Not you, but other people. How can you turn that offer down? Why are you still here? We'll be here when you get done. But if you wait too long, you won't be able to score the Karma points.

    Go. Comment.

    Hat tip to Rae, via SWWBO.

    by John on Jan 11, 2005

    December 20, 2004

    One of My Favorite Christmas Stories...

    Go here.


    by Dusty on Dec 20, 2004