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March 26, 2005

Two Reasons to Party!

First: MSG Keith, the Castle's Eyes and Ears in Afghanistan...

... is just fine.

He was not one of the four soldiers killed in the land mine incident.

I got this mail from him this morningL

If you've seen the news today from Afghanistan, it's not good. Can't talk about it. Just wanted you to know I wasn't involved and am safe and sound. Talk to you later. Master Sgt. Keith

One big difference between this war and the ones that preceded it - the year and a half Dad was in Vietnam, we'd watch the news, hear of the battles and casualties - and if they were in the area Dad was in, we'd wait. Wait for the next letter, or The Telegram, or worst, The Notification Team. Cassandra knows what I mean. Cricket. And soon, Dave, the Heartless Libertarian is going to know, too.

While that's still the drill - email makes the wait one heckuva lot shorter!

Thanks for dropping the note, Keith Khan!~

So, our Correspondent is fine - but more importantly - *Today* marks his completion of 30 years of Service - and he's still serving. Just like Bill. Makes Dusty and I look like pikers.

One thing about losing your hair - as you grow older, you start to match your Basic Training pictures again... except maybe in outline...

A hi-res can be viewed by clicking here. Hat tip to Mrs. Khan for the graphic!

Second: Tomorrow is Bad Cat Robot's birthday!

Somebody ought to take on the job of noting Denizen Birthdays so that we may properly and mercilessly mock them.

I have an idea.

Go out on the web, and find Kewl Things to send to Bad Cat for her Natal Celebration!

Post them in the comments. Keep it PG-13 - and if you are constitutionally unable to do that... provide a Not Safe For Work warning - no X-rated stuff, please. Scrup'ls will be sent to those who offend in that manner.

If you have something digital but not web-accessible - send it to me and I'll fix that problem.

This is what I'm arranging to have show up at Bad Cat's house today... I found this guy (via Google) at Sound Portraits. (That's how you make nice to people when you link into their archives, btw - give 'em a full credit link... hint hint).

What are your ideas?

by John on Mar 26, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Interviews and other events

March 25, 2005

All, right. That's it.

SWWBO is coming home, so I'm doing the Happy Dance.

And... Donna at Pajama Pundits has The Carnival of the Recipes, Vol 1, #32 up!

:grump

But.

But..

But... This travel has *got* to cease.

Today, I went until noon before I noticed (noon and two meetings) that I had my shirt on inside out.

This just doesn't happen when SWWBO is home.

Sigh.

/grump

The money spends, though. The money spends.

617th MP Co AAR.

What a difference timing makes. Two posts down, in an update, I talk about the AAR (After Action Review) covering the fight of the 617th MP Company. I lament Blackfive got it published first. Hey, we *hate* being scooped!

Like I said, Matt got it via different sources, and his didn't come with any markings or from sources that might give cause for pause... mine came in ways that I felt I had to get permission first. [update: From chattng with Matt, he got his copy from different sources, and vetted it from different sources] So, I asked the author (via email) this morning. I go to lunch, find out Matt has it posted... come back from lunch, and there is my email from the guy who wrote it. So, since I can include his email (there are some redactions at his request) I'm gonna run with the story anyway! Yay!

Here is the email I got from the author:

John,

No I do not mind if you publish the email.

No attribution required.

My purposes were threefold:

- a. [redacted- But there is a good reason, and if that reason comes to pass, I'll share. ed.]

- b. to end the debate about women in combat—they are in combat, period.;

- c. to add our two cents to this stupid debate about the Close Combat Badge the Army command is tossing around, for non-infantry combat arms only---no MPs.

I edited it for OPSEC before it went out. I only wish that the references to the name of the ASR hadn’t appeared on the news.

I did not put any names in there, because I didn’t want any legal trouble coming back to me for unauthorized disclosure of names. I’d prefer names weren’t added, to avoid any questions about the source document.

Please share it, it was meant to share.

In my intro to the pictures, I noted the performance of the soldiers - their professionalism and discipline. And, I'm pleased to say, I was pushing just the points that the author of the AAR was hoping for - and I wrote that before I read the AAR. From previous discussions, there are good and loyal readers of this blog who don't share my view of women in combat. Leaving that aside, this fight certainly shows that at least in this kind of fight - properly trained, motivated, and led (not to mention doing the leading themselves) they can hold their own. I will allow that the issue of women in the infantry is a different issue. But the issue of women in combat... well, my position all along has been - if they are in the Army, then they can take their chances, too. And I don't wanna hear any Regulars talking down the RC (Reserve Component) unless they are being specific about people and places. Don't hand me any generic crap. Talk to the hand. And yes, I'm a Regular.

On to the AAR:


Everyone,

Over the next few days you will see on the television news shows, and in the print news media the story of a Military Police Squad who are heroes. Through those outlets, I doubt that their story will get out in a truly descriptive manner. I can't express to you the pride, awe, and respect I feel for the soldiers of callsign Raven 42.

On Sunday afternoon, in a very bad section of scrub-land called Salman Pak, on the southeastern outskirts of Baghdad, 40 to 50 heavily-armed Iraqi insurgents attacked a convoy of 30 civilian tractor trailer trucks that were moving supplies for the coalition forces, along an Alternate Supply Route. These tractor trailers, driven by third country nationals (primarily Turkish), were escorted by 3 armored Hummers from the COSCOM. When the insurgents attacked, one of the Hummers was in their kill zone and the three soldiers aboard were immediately wounded, and the platform taken under heavy machinegun and RPG fire. Along with them, three of the truck drivers were killed, 6 were wounded in the tractor trailer trucks. The enemy attacked from a farmer's barren field next to the road, with a tree line perpendicular to the ASR, two dry irrigation ditches forming a rough L-shaped trenchline, and a house standing off the dirt road. After three minutes of sustained fire, a squad of enemy moved forward toward the disabled and suppressed trucks. Each of the enemy had hand-cuffs and were looking to take hostages for ransom or worse, to take those three wounded US soldiers for more internet beheadings.

About this time, three armored Hummers that formed the MP Squad under callsign Raven 42, 617th MP Co, Kentucky National Guard, assigned to the 503rd MP Bn, 18th MP Bde, arrived on the scene like the cavalry. The squad had been shadowing the convoy from a distance behind the last vehicle, and when the convoy trucks stopped and became backed up from the initial attack, the squad sped up, paralleled the convoy up the shoulder of the road, and moved to the sound of gunfire. They arrived on the scene just as a squad of about ten enemy had moved forward across the farmer's field and were about 20 meters from the road. The MP squad opened fire with .50 cal machineguns and Mk19 grenade launchers and drove across the front of the enemy's kill zone, between the enemy and the trucks, drawing fire off of the tractor trailers. The MP's crossed the kill zone and then turned up an access road at a right angle to the ASR and next to the field full of enemy fighters. The three vehicles, carrying nine MPs and one medic, stopped in a line on the dirt access road and flanked the enemy positions with plunging fire from the .50 cal and the SAW machinegun (Squad Automatic Weapon). In front of them, was a line of seven sedans, with all their doors and trunk lids open, the getaway cars and the lone two story house off on their left.

Discipline, training, leadership. Attacking into a "near" ambush is the correct response. It's also hard, and takes great confidence in yourself, your buddies, your leaders, and your gear - especially, when by definition, an ambush is a surprise. Reacting, and reacting correctly, is the purpose of training and drill - however sometimes repetetive it might seem.

Immediately the middle vehicle was hit by an RPG knocking the gunner unconscious from his turret and down into the vehicle. The Vehicle Commander (the TC), the squad's leader, thought the gunner was dead, but tried to treat him from inside the vehicle. Simultaneously, the rear vehicle's driver and TC, section leader two, open their doors and dismount to fight, while their gunner continued firing from his position in the gun platform on top of the Hummer. Immediately, all three fall under heavy return machinegun fire, wounded. The driver of the middle vehicle saw them fall out the rearview mirror, dismounts and sprints to get into the third vehicle and take up the SAW on top the vehicle. The Squad's medic dismounts from that third vehicle, and joined by the first vehicle's driver (CLS trained) who sprinted back to join him, begins combat life-saving techniques to treat the three wounded MPs. The gunner on the floor of the second vehicle is revived by his TC, the squad leader, and he climbs back into the .50 cal and opens fire. The Squad leader dismounted with his M4 carbine, and 2 hand grenades, grabbed the section leader out of the first vehicle who had rendered radio reports of their first contact. The two of them, squad leader Staff Sergeant and team leader Sergeant with her M4 and M203 grenade launcher, rush the nearest ditch about 20 meters away to start clearing the natural trenchline. The enemy has gone into the ditches and is hiding behind several small trees in the back of the lot. The .50 cal and SAW flanking fire tears apart the ten in the lead trenchline.

Recognize what you are seeing here. The "good guys" are getting hit. But cohesion remains. People do their jobs. They help each other - but never lose sight of the mission. "Duty First, People Always" is a hackneyed phrase to many people... but what do you think about it now? The casualties they are taking could well have justifed a withdrawal. But they didn't? Why? I can't answer definitively without interviewing the troops - but I'll offer these hypotheses.

1. Body armor. People are hit, and wounded, but not taken completely out of the fight.

2. Combat lifesaving training. People know how to treat the wounded, and do so. That gives *everybody* confidence and a willingness to stick it out. It also returns troops to the fight... which isn't happening on the other side. Though - it's not as universal as you'd think, as is mentioned at the end. The bad guys are just getting ground down (their dead-to-wounded ratio supports that point) - and ground down by a smaller group than they are who just won't quit fighting... and the squads doing this fighting are *not* enjoying the traditional advantages of the defender. At best, this is a meeting engagement. At worst, it is an in-stride assault on a defended position by an inferior force. It doesn't get any harder than that guys.

3. Training. From training comes confidence. You'll see that mentioned later, too.

4. Leadership. Cool, and calm under fire. Leadership that directs. Controls. Leads. And we're not talking senior leaders. We're talking Staff Sergeant and Sergeant. The crucial link in any Army.

5. Trust & Confidence. Confidence that they can handle this fight - and turst that other people are busting their ass to get there and help out.

6. Discipline, discipline, discipline. Those of you who were in the Army during long periods of no-combat peace - remember how people bitched about load plans, and uniformity? Read on.

Meanwhile, the two treating the three wounded on the ground at the rear vehicle come under sniper fire from the lone house. Each of them, remember one is a medic, pull out AT-4 rocket launchers from the HMMWV and nearly-simultaneously fire the rockets into the house to neutralize the shooter. The two sergeants work their way up the trenchline, throwing grenades, firing grenades from the launcher, and firing their M4s. The sergeant runs low on ammo and runs back to a vehicle to reload. She moves to her squad leader's vehicle, and because this squad is led so well, she knows exactly where to reach her arm blindly into a different vehicle to find ammo-because each vehicle is packed exactly the same, with discipline. As she turns to move back to the trenchline, Gunner in two sees an AIF jump from behind one of the cars and start firing on the Sergeant. He pulls his 9mm, because the .50 cal is pointed in the other direction, and shoots five rounds wounding him. The sergeant moves back to the trenchline under fire from the back of the field, with fresh mags, two more grenades, and three more M203 rounds. The Mk 19 gunner suppresses the rear of the field. Now, rejoined with the squad leader, the two sergeants continue clearing the enemy from the trenchline, until they see no more movement. A lone man with an RPG launcher on his shoulder steps from behind a tree and prepares to fire on the three Hummers and is killed with a single aimed SAW shot thru the head by the previously knocked out gunner on platform two, who now has a SAW out to supplement the .50 cal in the mount. The team leader sergeant, she claims four killed by aimed M4 shots. The Squad Leader, he threw four grenades taking out at least two baddies, and attributes one other to her aimed M203 fire.

The gunner on platform two, previously knocked out from a hit by the RPG, has now swung his .50 cal around and, realizing that the line of vehicles represents a hazard and possible getaway for the bad guys, starts shooting the .50cal into the engine blocks until his field of fire is limited. He realizes that his vehicle is still running despite the RPG hit, and drops down from his weapon, into the drivers seat and moves the vehicle forward on two flat tires about 100 meters into a better firing position. Just then, the vehicle dies, oil spraying everywhere. He remountes his .50 cal and continues shooting the remaining of the seven cars lined up and ready for a get-away that wasn't to happen. The fire dies down about then, and a second squad arrives on the scene, dismounts and helps the two giving first aid to the wounded at platform three. Two minutes later three other squads from the 617th arrive, along with the CO, and the field is secured, consolidation begins.

That's just simply Audie Murphy stuff. The soldier described here is the one in the first picture of my post below. Wounded, stunned from the RPG blast - but still thinking not just of reaction and survival - but thinking ahead, past the immediate end game. Taking away the ability of the enemy to escape. Hoo-ah! This is why the Armies of the western democracies are so lethal. Not just the weapons - but the inherent flexibility of the soldiers. US Sergeants have more authority and initiative than many Colonels in some second tier armies. And it shows.

Those seven Americans (with the three wounded) killed in total 24 heavily armed enemy, wounded 6 (two later died), and captured one unwounded, who feigned injury to escape the fight. They seized 22 AK-47s, 6x RPG launchers w/ 16 rockets, 13x RPK machineguns, 3x PKM machineguns, 40 hand grenades, 123 fully loaded 30-rd AK magazines, 52 empty mags, and 10 belts of 2500 rds of PK ammo.

The three wounded MPs have been evacuated to Landstuhl. One lost a kidney and will be paralyzed. The other two will most likely recover, though one will forever have a bullet lodged between second and third ribs below his heart. No word on the three COSCOM soldiers wounded in the initial volleys.

Of the 7 members of Raven 42 who walked away, two are Caucasian Women, the rest men--one is Mexican-American, the medic is African-American, and the other two are Caucasian-the great American melting pot. They believed even before this fight that their NCOs were the best in the Army, and that they have the best squad in the Army. The Medic who fired the AT-4, said he remembered how from the week before when his squad leader forced him to train on it, though he didn't think as a medic he would ever use one. He said he chose to use it in that moment to protect the three wounded on the ground in front of him, once they came under fire from the building. The day before this mission, they took the new RFI bandoliers that were recently issued, and experimented with mounting them in their vehicles. Once they figured out how, they pre-loaded a second basic load of ammo into magazines, put them into the bandoliers, and mounted them in their vehicles---the same exact way in every vehicle-load plans enforced and checked by leaders! Leadership under fire--once those three leaders (NCOs) stepped out of their vehicles, the squad was committed to the fight.

Their only complaints in the AAR were: the lack of stopping power in the 9mm; the .50 cal incendiary rounds they are issued in lieu of ball ammo (shortage of ball in the inventory) didn't have the penetrating power needed to pierce the walls of the building; and that everyone in the squad was not CLS [combat lifesaver. ed.] trained.

Yesterday, Monday, was spent with the chaplain and the chain of command conducting AARs. Today, every news media in theater wanted them. Good Morning America, NBC, CBS, FOX, ABC, Stars and Stripes, and many radio stations from Kentucky all were lined up today. The female E5 Sergeant who fought thru the trenchline will become the anti-Jessica Lynch media poster child. She and her squad leader deserve every bit of recognition they will get, and more. They all do.

I participated in their AAR as the BDE S2, and am helping in putting together an action report to justify future valor awards. Lets not talk about women in combat. Lets not talk about the new Close Combat Badge not including MPs.

Secretary Rumsfeld, sir. Not enough .50 cal ball ammo? Howinthehell does that happen? Buy some from FN. IMI. Singapore Industries. Hyundai. It's not like it's not out there. How are we four years into a war and still short small arms ammo?

I won't go into the 9mm. I've hated the Beretta from day one - I'm just not rational on that one!


Update: Winds of Change has links to video via the Army, including interviews with the soldiers involved.

Matt at Blackfive also points us to this vid: From the Insurgents Losers in this fight....


by John on Mar 25, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Historical Stuff | Observations on things Military | This is no Sh*t!
» BLACKFIVE links with: After Action Report - Raven 42 Ambushed!
» Winds of Change.NET links with: Tell Me Again About Women in Combat - Raven 42
» triticale - the wheat / rye guy links with: just simply Audie Murphy stuff
» BeldarBlog links with: Raven 42
» Carpe Bonum links with: Raven 42 Ambushed - many terrorists dead
» Ghost of a flea links with: Raven 42
» Ghost of a flea links with: Raven 42

More on the 617th MP Company

By now, most of you have heard of this fight - via the media, Blackfive, Greyhawk - the usual suspects. Due to the flow of my work and blogging, I don't usually jump on the 'breaking stories' because someone's already fed 'em to Matt and the 'Hawk - but yesterday I did get some pictures.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about - I'm talking about the firefight of the Richmond, Kentucky based 617th MP Company - you can read about it here.

The soldiers continued to take fire as they traveled up the main highway. Squad leader Nein wanted to make a right turn onto another road, but just as the Humvees were turning the corner, one was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Spc. Casey Cooper, 20, was up in the gunner's turret when the vehicle was hit.

"The heat and the concussion knocked me," said Cooper. "I could feel it hit me in the chest and the face, and that was about it. I blacked out after that."

But he quickly rejoined the fight. By that time, the U.S. soldiers were out of their vehicles.

I'm gonna put another face with the story, and some gun pics. Perfect match for the Castle!

Let's meet Specialist Cooper, and see what sort of stuff this intrepid little Band of Brothers gathered up in as thier part in trying to further the cause of Iraqi sovereignty, free from tribal tyranny. Or at least something better than they had.


In this photo released by the U.S. Army Wednesday, March 23, 2005, U.S. Army 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade gunner SPC Casey Cooper stands next to a his damaged Humvee near Baghdad, Iraq (news - web sites) recently, after it received a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, knocking him unconscious. Cooper was revived and helped his fellow soldiers defeat an attack on a coalition supply convoy March 20, about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad, according to U.S. officials. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, Sgt. 1st Class Marshall P. Ware)

And let's see some of the captured haul - and what they were facing. Once again, training, discipline (instilled by pride and training, maintained by good leadership) and basic soldiering pays off... this is 12 troops fending off more than three times their number, killing 17 of the bad guys, in a fight that took place at a time and place of the bad guy's choosing. That's just professional-quality soldiering - and if there are any Regulars out there still bad-mouthing the Guard and Reserve in general (as vice specifics) - give it a rest, wouldja?


In this photo released by the U.S. Army Wednesday, March 23, 2005, U.S. Army U.S. Army 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade Sgt. 1st Class Marshall P. Ware, of Lexington, KY, poses with a cache of insurgent weapons recovered after an insurgent attack on a supply convoy March 20, about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad. Seventeen insurgents were killed in the battle. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, SPC Casey Cooper)


In this image made available 23 March 2005,Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, team leader, 4th Platoon, 617th Military Police Company, 503rd MP Battalion, 18th MP Brigade, stands in front of a captured weapons cache after her squad repelled an insurgent attack on a Coalition supply convoy March 20 about 18 miles southeast of Baghdad.(AFP/US Army-HO)

UPDATE: I *was* going to publish the AAR, but Matt at Blackfive already has. Just another reason he was the winner of "Best Milblog". I was waiting for permission (not implying anything about Matt - this has to do with my still having an active clearance and some of the rules associated with it. Matt got it from different sources than I did - it came to him clear to use.)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by John on Mar 25, 2005 | Grenades
» BeldarBlog links with: Raven 42

Now It Can Be Told...

A recently-declassified surveillance tape from the Pentagon E-Wing (okay--Muffy found it in the dumpster) appears to shed some light on the circumstances regarding the Armorer's retirement from the Army...

[*cue tape*]

[*focus on general officer standing by classified document shredder in hallway with piece of paper in hand*]

[*audio pickup: approaching footsteps*]

(General's voice) "Major Donovan, do you know how to work this thing? My secretary's gone home and I don't know how to run it."

(Major's voice) "Yes, sir."

[*major turns on shredder, takes paper from General, feeds it in*]

(General's voice) "Now, I just need one copy..."

March 24, 2005

How can we lose...

With soldiers like this? And I'm not just saying that because I'm a Redleg, too.

I've been where he is, if not for those reasons.

Go drop in and cheer him up.

That's an order.

And, thank you, Canada. This seems a nice bit to compare and contrast. Redleg and Hinzman. Courtesy of Mick at Whizardries.

Hat tip to AFSis!

All I can say is...

...*only* a Distinguished Flying Cross? I've always honored my Dad's service - but if this is DFC and not Medal of Honor... then my Dad's DFC (and him not an Aviator) takes on a whole new meaning to me.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I say to you: Glenn Rojohn, Captain, USAAF.

Captain Rojohn died in August 2003.

I got this in email. An excerpt:

He felt a huge impact. The big bomber shuddered, felt suddenly very heavy and began losing altitude. Rojohn grasped almost immediately that he had collided with another plane. A B-17 below him, piloted by Lt. William G. McNab had slammed the top of its fuselage into the bottom of Rojohn's. The top turret gun of McNab's plane was now locked in the belly of Rojohn's plane and the ball turret in the belly of Rojohn's had mashed through the top of McNab's. The two bombers were almost perfectly aligned -the tail of the lower plane was slightly to the left of Rojohn's tailpiece. They were stuck together, as a crewman later recalled, "like mating dragon flies."by Ralph Kinney Bennett

After some hunting, I found where this came from: An article by Ralph Kinney Bennet on the RAAF Marine Section short stories webpage. You should click the link and read the rest.

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 | Something for the Soul
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: The Armorer Speaks, and the Chief has a headache..
» JackLewis.net links with: Terri Schiavo blogger roundup

Aviation Obfuscation...

It ain’t easy being a pilot. The actual stick-wiggling is a piece of cake compared with complying with the myriad rules, regulations, administrative directives, pilotage procedures, ad infinitum. You don't have to take my word for it--ask Neffi. Sometimes the publications are crystal clear (“No smoking within fifty feet of the aircraft”) and sometimes they’re--ummmm--see for yourself. I think you’ll get a whole new perspective on flying the friendly skies.

And on why, in general, some of us are nuts.

Reprinted below is the notice that British Airways sent to its pilots explaining the cockpit crew duties during the conduct of what we in the US refer to as a "monitored approach"--on an instrument approach to an airfield under conditions of low ceiling and visibility, one pilot flies the approach and the other pilot divides his scan between the instruments and the view outside. As the aircraft nears that point in space where the runway should be visible, the non-flying pilot concentrates on the outside view, and when he sees the runway, takes the controls and performs the landing; this eliminates the problem of the pilot flying the approach having to make a sudden, sometimes disorienting, transition from flying instruments to looking “outside” at the last minute to try to acquire the runway. If the non-flying pilot announces that he sees nothing by the time the aircraft reaches minimums, the pilot on the controls, who is still on the instruments, simply initiates the Missed Approach procedure and the non-flying pilot handles the radio calls and other assorted details.

Simple, right? Geez, even *I* understood that.

Now try the explanation of this procedure from the British Airways Pilot’s Manual.

*** British Airways Flight Operations Department Notice ***

There appears to be some confusion over the new pilot role titles. This notice will hopefully clear up any misunderstandings.

The titles P1, P2 and Co-Pilot will now cease to have any meaning within the BA operations manuals. They are to be replaced by Handling Pilot, Non-handling Pilot, Handling Landing Pilot, Non-Handling Landing Pilot, Handling Non-Landing Pilot, and Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot. The Landing Pilot is initially the Handling Pilot and will handle the take-off and landing except in role reversal when he is the Non-Handling Pilot for taxi until the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Landing Pilot at eighty knots. The Non-Landing (Non-Handling, since the Landing Pilot is handling) Pilot reads the checklist to the Handling Pilot until after Before Descent Checklist completion, when the Handling Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Non-Landing Pilot who then becomes the Handling Non-Landing Pilot. The Landing Pilot is the Non-Handling Pilot until the decision altitude call, when the Handling Non-Landing Pilot hands the handling to the Non-Handling Landing Pilot, unless the latter calls "go-around", in which case the Handling Non-Landing Pilot, continues handling and the Non-Handling Landing Pilot continues non-handling until the next call of "land" or "go-around", as appropriate.

Ow. Somebody rub my head.

by CW4BillT on Mar 24, 2005 | Plane P0rn

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 | Something for the Soul
» JackLewis.net 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

Low-Level Bureaucratic Dreams...


Let's not forget the Navy...

The boys who sail the briny, even though they aren't in the news that much right now, are fighting to maintain their share of the budget - with good reason. And while I have little visibility on the subject, I suspect there is tension in the ranks over the structure and organization of the Navy in the future.

CDR Salamander points out one aspect of the debate: Riverine Ops and Operators.

Eaglespeak points out another - Piracy and the potential links to terror.

Think it's not likely or too dangerous? Consider the article in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

March 22, 2005

I declare Jihad.

Cassie has been posting too much Good Stuff. Like Here. And Here. And Here.

So, I say - it's time to hijack a thread! There have been two Python-references in this thread - I say storm the parapets and make it ours!

No Prisoners! Scribble on the walls! Wear the lampshades! Tap the kegs! Put peanut butter in their shoes! T.P. the trees! Soap the windows (don't wash 'em - you know what I mean!) Steal the valve stems from their tires! Put Yanni in their iPods! Change their homepages to DU!

Cry Havoc! And let slip the Scrup'ls of Argghhh!!!

Oh, yeah - and Keith Khan sends:

How to say 'I love you' in 22 languages.....

English: I Love You.
Spanish: Te Amo.
French: Je T'aime.
German: lch Liebe Dich.
Japanese: Ai Shite Imasu.
Italian: Ti Amo.
Chinese: Wo Ai Ni.
Swedish: Jag Alskar.
Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia,
West Virginia, Kentucky, & parts of Florida:

Nice A$$, Get in the truck!

by John on Mar 22, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Conservative Friends links with: I love you

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:

John,

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.

News from the sandbox.

From a Marine just back from "In the Box." Welcome home, Marine. And a big thank you to the kind folks of Bangor, Maine (read to the end, and you'll understand)!

This will be my last mass e-mailing (and I know that most everyone has been waiting for me to write those words). As some of you know, I have returned from the sandbox. For others of you (perhaps the majority) the phrase „better luck next time‰ has taken on new meaning. Regardless of your thoughts and opinions, It's wonderful to be back and *almost* home (I'm stuck on the left coast until the end of May).

Before you reach for the Delete key, let me bore you with a recap of my past few weeks in wonderful Iraq. I believe that my last tale of woe had yours truly working the night shift within the MEF‚s air shop following the take-down of Fallujah. Perhaps much will be written on that topic by those with better writing skills and better access than I, but it really was an eye-opener to be part of something that big and lethal. Perhaps that experience of helping to plan and execute the air war for a large scale combined arms operation in such a small chunk of sky shorted me out.

Some of you may remember some news stories from last fall showing Marines
in various locations in Iraq having one or two beers. Real beers, not the non- alcoholic crap that DoD and KBR pushes on the Grunts. The concept was noble. As per Marine Corps tradition, wherever Marines are on or about the 10th of November we always pause to celebrate the founding of our Corps. The question at MEF headquarters in early October was simple: how do we celebrate the upcoming Marine Corps birthday ?

The senior Enlisted leadership had a plan that was elegant both in concept and execution. The Marine Corps has its own cargo aircraft (much to the annoyance of the Air Force). Why not send the KC-130s on a beer run? And that is exactly what happened. Lest any one think that the Marines were pulling one over on the other services in Iraq (some of you may know that alcoholic beverages are prohibited by General Order), the CG of the MEF (a three star) asked for and was granted permission for his Marines to have two beers in accordance of our annual celebration. Two C-130s loaded with beer landed at Al Taqquadum for further distribution to all major subordinate Marine commands. If you remember, I-MEF and most major Marine units were preoccupied in early November of last year with the former tenants of Al-Fallujah who were, to say the least, evicted. So, in one of the few times in the Corps history, a fair percentage of active duty Marines were unable to partake of *traditional festivities* on the 10th. With two KC‚s worth of beer nearly under safe lock and key (some of the *guards* were rumored to have helped themselves in the days prior; showing up drunk for duty is also rumored to not be a career enhancing move.) that date for a drink to toast the future of the Corps was postponed till early December.

Unfortunately, I was sent off to Camp Victory for a planning evolution on
operation Al-Hariyah, a series of limited objective counter insurgency operations in the northern Babil area (south of Baghdad). Some of the planning that was worked out for air operations during Fallujah was directly lifted to this new operation and some stuff we had to roll up our sleeves and create from scratch. However the results were sometimes spectacular, as can be seen in the attached photo. The photo shows what happens when a 2000 lb. guided bomb hits its target (note that two bombs were used, but that the second one has yet to hit but is visible in the red circle). Some things are worth not having a beer for nearly seven months.

The rest of this fascinating look into the belly is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry. I recommend you continue!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

March 21, 2005

Trip to Bamiyan...

*That's how *this* officer spells it, Keith!*

Another story from MSG Keith, the Castle's Correspondent in Afghanistan...

This time, it covers a trip to Bamiyan... if the name sounds familiar, it's where the Taliban destroyed the thousand-year-old sculptures of the Buddha. Geez, how medieval can you get?

Trip to Bamian (or Bamiyan, depending on which officer you listen to. But then, who really listens to them...?)

We left out of here at 0800 and drove to Kabul Inter Airport and loaded up on a Russian Mi-8 helicopter. It was weird standing there on the Tarmac, looking at Russian Mi-8 and Mi-24 helicopters. A few years ago, I was training to shoot them down now I'm riding in one. There were 15 of us in the Mi-8, but only 13 seats, and no seat belts. And there was a spare fuel tank INSIDE the cabin with us. We flew about an hour to Bamiyan, a village of about 1000 people to open an ANA volunteer (recruiting) center. After a couple hours of speeches, and presenting gifts, we watched a sheep get sacrificed to open the center. We had lunch in the center. All of the Americans, approx 15 sat at one table. The lunch was rice, pita-type bread and some kind of meat, probably goat or lamb. Whatever it was, it was good. The rice had a taste of cinnamon. Apparently, cinnamon is one of their main spices. Desert was white grapes and Apples. And they served Pepsi. Pepsi is a biggy here. It's served whenever guests are eating. Cool.

After that they took us to the 'mountain.' [pic above, ed.] If you remember, after the Taliban took over, they destroyed some giant Buddha statues carved into a mountain. The statues had been there for 1600 years, and the Taliban thought they were disrespectful to their [debased view of the Muslim] religion. I remember seeing on TV the Taliban firing tanks at them. Come to find out, because the rock was so soft, the rounds were punching through without much damage. They forced some of the locals to be lowered down on ropes from the top to place dynamite on the statues. Anyway, we were there! We drove through the town right up to the base of the mountains and caves. It was so cool! I even picked up a rock to send home! While we were waiting for the general to wrap up his tour of the Buddhas, this little girl climbed up the side of the roadway to where we were at. She didn't look to be more three or four and she climbed up like a billy goat. She could climb the hill better than we could!

After a while, we headed back to the airfield and loaded up for the ride home. As I was standing there, it hit me that I was halfway around the world, being a part of history. I had been in-country all of 6 days. Seeing what the Taliban had done in person, and seeing the Afghans working toward being a free country. Bosnia was cool, but this is awesome. And actually, in some aspects, the Afghans are further along toward independence after three years than the Bosnians are after 10.

Enjoy the photos. Oh, and no photos of the sheep sacrifice...

The Armorer, being a sucker for small cute critters - is happy that you skipped the sacrifice part!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

TINS*! There I was...

Military aviation is an unforgiving vocation -- it’s just as easy to get killed flying the friendly skies as it is flying the hostile ones. The following tale was originally published in Flightfax, Army Aviation’s safety ‘zine, in September 1997. I’ve added some short notes for clarification purposes, since we don’t have a whole slew of former AH-1F pilots dropping in to visit. Most of it will be in Flash Traffic/Extended Entry, ‘cuz John’ll get his trousers torqued if I blow the rest of the site out the bottom of your monitor.

The entire flight lasted less than ten minutes. For those of you who need instant gratification, we lived…

There I was...in the front seat of a Cobra with a number-one hydraulic system failure, halfway down a 4800-foot runway, doing 50 knots about three inches above the pavement. Just the normal emergency procedure for this particular situation, with one pesky little difference -- we were flying sideways.

Gee -- glad you asked...

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on Mar 21, 2005 | This is no Sh*t!

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.

Monday Morning Update

[Nota Bene: If you work in a very uptight office, check around before opening the picture links. While not obscene per se, they could cause, well, discomfort. You can read the thread without the pics - but it makes more sense with... ed.]

Guys, you saw the Castle Soccer Team in action last week, but you just might wanna take a raincheck on signing up...the cheerleaders were visiting over the weekend…


by CW4BillT on Mar 21, 2005 | General Commentary

March 20, 2005

Oh, yeah...

Anybody remember what you were doing two years ago?

Sorry to punish you guys who have dial-up...

by John on Mar 20, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Speed of Thought... links with: Two years ago...

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 lcnick@hotmail.com. (If you need directions, ask the PC when you RSVP.)

I look forward to your questions and comments. Peace.

Guy.

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!