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April 23, 2005

This is too good to pass up.

SWWBO's a little under the weather today, we're getting a late start. All this travel has been taking a toll on her. So, I'm going through email, marveling that the denizens wimped out of a good chance at a party last night (we're just too old, izzat it? Can't hang late any more? Except those left coasters who have an advantage in this regard...)

Ennyway, Martin M sends this story, and a link. It reminds me of a TINS I'll need to work up into a post someday - good, old fashioned, National Guard kind of story that we don't do enough of because no one has a sense of humor anymore kind of story.

Here's what Martin said:

This almost sounds like an Infantry 'TINS'. This is what some of my National Guard training used to be like in 'the old days'. My brother the writer puts this on paper better than I do at: [see link at end of this - it's better to read this first. ed.] My first real drill weekend was in August. Since the unit had been to AT; this was a maintenance drill; clean everything up and put it back in storage. It was hot, I was bored and sleepy. So was everyone else. I was starting to think that enlisting was a mistake when the Company Commander came on to the drill floor and asked for volunteers. Seems the ‘Jefferson State Militia' had taken over City Hall and we were being asked to come down and drive them out. . . . .

. . . . The rebels broke and ran after just a couple of volleys, in accordance with the script. We were supposed to chase them down to Veteran's Park, where they'd make their escape across Lake Ewauna in a WW II vintage DUKW amphibious truck. We gave them a little bit of a head start so that we wouldn't have fighting going on in the streets on the way to the park; then we headed out after them.

After the 'revolutionaries' bailed out the back door of City Hall, we pursued them. The team Martin was with ran across Klamath Avenue, through traffic, then followed the alley between Main and Klamath, firing whenever a target appeared. Cars were braking as they ran in front of them. Tourists (and locals) were understandably confused about what was happening; since there hadn't been any prior warning of military action to speak of.

Now you can know "The rest of the Story."

And, since we're at it - Sailor Bill P, aka 74 of Bowramp, sends along this explanation of his interest in guns, large and small.

Come Saturday Morning...

Hmmmmm--lessee what we’ve got in the box o’ ‘trons…

[*rummage*] [*rummage*] [*snap-crackle-pop*]

Hmmmpf. Did a TINS already. Haven’t done a Boz in a while…

[*peers back downweek*] Heh. Got a li’l religion, there…yeah, why not?

[*rummage*] [*blows dust off ‘trons*]


I’ve always gotten along well with our various chaplains over the last thirty-plus-years, although I have a suspicion that one or two thought I’d been inflicted on them as a test of their faith…

MAJ Ray ___, our chaplain in Boz, and I got along great--we were both Calvin and Hobbes fans and he was the only guy I’d ever met who could drink more coffee than I can and not go into terminal twitches.

His coffee mug was an extension of his left hand. It held enough coffee to keep Rhode Island awake for a week.

Ray was in the habit of dropping in to check the Flight Status board to see who was already up and who was scheduled to launch later, so he could personalize the Insurance Prayers, then he’d chat for a bit and bug me about hopping on the Butmir [the military airfield serving Sarajevo] Shuttle. If I was busy, he’d leave his mug on the counter to indicate he’d be back and then pop next door to see what the grunts were up to. One Friday morning, he dropped in, listened to me chatting with the Ops NCOIC in Taszar, put his coffee mug on the counter and wandered off.

Next morning, one of the ‘Hawk drivers came in for his briefing and remarked, “What’d ya do, win a trophy?”

Chappy Ray’s mug. Still on the counter.

[*light bulb*] Trophy.

[*light bulb*] The CG had just presented the Commander’s Cup to one of the flag football teams.

[*light bulb*] Heh. The Chaplain’s Cup.

I opened up my dot-mil, plugged in some addresses and composed the following:

-----Original Message-----
From: Tuttle, William CW4
Sent: Saturday, October 13, 2001 10:59 AM
Subject: Chaplain's Cup Award


The prestigious "Camp Comanche Chaplain's Cup" (an award regarded in some circles as being on a more exalted plane than the Commander's Cup) was presented to the TF Pegasus Flight Operations Section in a simple ceremony conducted yesterday morning. The Cup, according to tradition, was constructed at some time during the preceding millenium by a highly-trained artisan of the Aladdin Corporation in Nashville, Tennessee, who (some say miraculously) used only a single piece of extruded polymeric material in its creation--it did not evolve, contrary to popular belief.

The Cup, which is capable of containing the contents of an entire urn of DFAC coffee (regular or strong), is a simple clerical black in overall appearance, with a central motif which, also according to tradition, is an accurate rendition of the pattern of the cloak issued to St. Martin of Tours, patron saint of soldiers deployed to chilly climates. The Cup possesses the extraordinary capability of recognizing the temperature of whatever substance is placed within its central receptacle and of sustaining the appropriate level of molecular activity to maintain that exact temperature for an indeterminate, albeit considerable, length of time--how an apparently inanimate object possesses the ability to accomplish such a feat remains a mystery to this day.

The Cup was presented to Flight Ops personnel in recognition of:
· their fortitude in enduring random bursts of static and miscellaneous side-lobe interference caused by demonic possession of certain FM radio frequencies and
· having a collective patience of saintly caliber in dealing with questions such as, "Is there a flight going to Butmir tomorrow and am I on it?", "Is that local time or Zulu?" and "Is there a helipad behind the PX at Eagle?"

The Cup, with its tastefully-understated Post-It Note inscription, will remain on display in Flight Ops until such time as another TF Pegasus section can surpass the exceptionally high standards achieved by Flight Ops or the Chaplain remembers where he left it.

[*click*] Send.

Responses ranged from
“Never, ever overload my Inbox with anything like this ever again. Ever.”
(Our Maintenance Officer)


“See me. ASAP.”
(The Flight Surgeon)


Mr. Tuttle,

I will be over later this afternoon. Thanks for the laugh.


Knowing full well that all of MND-North would be on tenterhooks wondering about the fate of the Chaplain’s Cup, I toggled Reply All and typed:

Yea, brethren, upon this date there did appear unto the OIC of the Flight Operations a minion of the Lord, and in his appearance, the minion was like unto that of the Chaplain; like that of the Chaplain was the appearance of the minion of the Lord.

And the minion appeared before the OIC and spake thusly unto him, saying, "Hi, Chief--wherefore resteth the Cup which was given into thy charge?" And the OIC replied to the minion of the Lord, "Behold! Here it is before thee; the Cup resteth before thee upon this slab of polished wood which hath been hewn from the oak-tree."

And the minion of the Lord spake again unto the OIC, saying, "This is indeed the Cup; hast thou then introduced any abominations therein?" And the OIC replied to the minion of the Lord, saying, "Full well thou knowest, o minion, that I am of an age which is an age beyond the ages of the thirtysomethings, and so may not abide such things as is the drink of the thirtysomethings; decaf and café latté are as naught within my sight. Verily, I say unto thee that here before thee upon this slab of polished wood which hath been hewn from the oak-tree, the Cup resteth pristine, as it was when first it appeared unto me."

And the minion of the Lord spake yet a third time. And the third time he spake, he spake thusly, saying, "Thanks, Chief. The Cup is now required of thee, that it may resume providing sustenance and comfort unto me." And the minion of the Lord took up the Cup into his right hand; with his right hand he took up the Cup. And, as the minion of the Lord took up the Cup into his right hand, he withdrew from the sight of the OIC.

And, as the minion of the Lord withdrew from the sight of the OIC, the minion of the Lord spake yet a fourth time, saying, "By the way, got anything going to Butmir tomorrow?"

[*click*] Send

by CW4BillT on Apr 23, 2005 | General Militaria

April 22, 2005

Mawnin' in N'awlins

Otay. While we're out at Drago's for some fine charbroiled oysters (I'm not a seafood fan generally, but my interests just expanded!) and decent Margaritas, with SWWBO having softshell crab, and I had drunk-on-tequila shrimp (the shrimp, not me), topped off with daiquiris from one of the drive-through daquiri places that dot the landscape 'round here (gotta promise to *not* insert the straw until you get home) and then back to the hotel for monkeysex quality time - I find all y'all hosted the First (and probably only) Bad Poetry Bash!

Funny stuff, really!

JMH soils my inbox pointing out it's Not-Obeserved-At-The-Castle Earth Day today. Go spray insecticide or something.

Then I see the Squid Lawyer over at Eaglespeak tracked his black shoes through the Castle.

So, sailor - you feel like Crocodile Dundee, "You call that a knife?"

Hee! This is too easy, dude. Why you bring a knife to a gunfight?

1. Who's your daddy now, boy? Know where those big guns came from? Watervliet Arsenal, New York, courtesy of the United States Army...

Hi-res, click here and here or, here even!

The sailor might be surprised to find out that back in the day, there were almost as many Army 16-inch guns in operation as Navy - and the current inventory of guns in service is exactly equal... and when comparing gun size, last I checked, 155mm was bigger'n a 5incher... by about 30mm. Ask any girl - an *inch* makes a difference... especially in diameter!

Just sayin', y'know?

Heck, sailor - we even had 14inchers in turrets...

Not to mention the Railway Guns.

#82, Sailor. #82.

by John on Apr 22, 2005 | I think it's funny!
» Quotulatiousness links with: N'Awlins Memories

April 21, 2005

Cannoneer Zen

How 'bout a nice transitional barbette-mount (see pintle in front) fortress gun on display at Oslo Castle? Black-powder breech-loader with a simple recoil system - an inclined ramp.

Hi-res, click here.

Cya! Off to the airport to see SWWBO in New Orleans for the weekend! Hopefully, Dusty and Bill will keep the shop open!

by John on Apr 21, 2005 | Artillery
» EagleSpeak links with: Guns & Ammo

News you can use.

Continuing my self-designated role of DoD/Army News shill:

The Army re-invents Combat Lifesaving. Taking into account changes in technology, both medical and in personal protection, and applying the experience gained in the "COE" (mil-speak for Current Operating Environment) the basic First Aid training given to soldiers is being revamped. This is not your average Red Cross course - the RC course doesn't start out with (I know, I took it many years ago getting a Paramedic cert):

Pinned down under enemy fire with an injured buddy -- his leg blown off, his face a mass of blood -- a soldier should first squeeze in behind the wounded man, allowing his body to absorb the incoming bullets, then yank a tourniquet onto the bleeding stump. When there is a lull in the firing, he should drag his buddy to cover, jam a rubber tube down his nose and turn him on his side so he won't choke.

Read the whole thing by clicking here.

This looks a lot like the stuff Castle War Correspondent MSG Keith gets involved in!

It's a fact of life that long deployments - especially combat ones - can negatively affect your fitness, and not just (d-uh) due to hostile acts. Maintaining fitness can be a challenge. And the Army can sometimes be, well, dense about things, demanding PT tests right after returning from a longish sojourn somewhere awful. Kinda a "Welcome Home! You didn't think the BS was *over* did you?" kinda thing. So, there is a group of fitness nerds who sit around thinking things up like this. (For the record, I snark, but I don't think it's really all that bad an idea!)

Exploiting an improving relationship with the average Iraqi - troops make a bust. Still, it's bemusing to read this:

The Soldiers searched the west Baghdad house the local Iraqi tipster reported and found two sets of U.S. Desert Camouflage Uniforms, one rocket propelled grenade sight and terrorist propaganda.

This describes the Castle Library, being in a former bedroom with closet, old uniforms hang there in case military personnel system suffers a seizure and takes the Armorer up on his recall voluntarism. There is an RPG sight on the shelves (RPG is in the basement). And, because to know the enemy is to better understand and anticipate, bad guy propaganda resides on the computer, as well as in hard copy. Context is everything.

Not paid to do this kind of analysis - but agree with the contention that if they *truly* had one - they'd have used it by now. Doesn't mean they don't have the parts and are trying to get them into the same place to put it all together, however.

Hi tech, low tech, dog tech. All tools in the fight against mines.

To our friends Down Under: Thanks, mates!

And thanks to you guys, too:

BANGOR, Maine — Tired and bleary-eyed, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif., were finally back on U.S. soil after seven months on the front lines in Iraq.

But they were still many miles and hours from their families and the homecoming they longed for. Their officers told them they would be on the ground for 60 to 90 minutes while their chartered plane was refueled.

So they disembarked and began walking through the airport terminal corridor to a small waiting room.

That's when they heard the applause.

Lining the hall and clapping were dozens of Bangor residents who have set a daunting task for themselves: They want every Marine, soldier, sailor and airman returning through the tiny international airport here to get a hero's welcome.

Even if the planes arrive in the middle of the night or a blizzard, they are there.

Read the rest by clicking here.

Some media mavens swim against the tide. Good on ya, Mrs. Pope!

Related to the above effort, the services have been slow to respond to the fact that it's been a long time since we've had to deal with a significant (16,000!) number of wounded, many requiring long-term assistance. While individual soldiers have stepped up in scattered locations to not just be noisy, but actively organize that support - DoD is finally coming on board. I work inside the Belly of the Beast, and having been here through the long period of relative peace and the now in the current period of heavy live OPTEMPO, I gotta admit I agree with many of the presenters at the "Future of the Army" conference - parts of DoD and the Services *don't* act as if we are at war. And I lay that blame squarely at the feet of the Generals and the Secretaries. It's their job, and however hard that aspect of it may be, I think they've *not* gotten their point across - they just assume it's understood. We're 4 years into this - two years since the invasion of Iraq - and this is just getting stood up. Heh. It's easy to sit here in my kitchen sipping coffee and kvetch - but, heh.

I really detested (and still do) these guys:

The Pentagon introduced proposed regulations yesterday aimed at preventing marketing practices that have exposed military personnel, especially recruits and junior officers, to high-pressure or deceptive sales pitches for insurance and other financial products.

No, not all of them - but enough of them, using (improperly, to my mind, if legal) their ranks (usually LTC/MSG/SGM) as a subtle hammer to influence troops to buy crap. Then get in my face as a commander when buyers remorse or other problems set in. First they call thinking I'm their friend - then they tried to pull (in the LTC's cases) their non-existant-rank-for-that-purpose on me. Fie on the weasels who prey on the inexperienced. Double-fie on those who wore the uniform and do so. This has been a long time coming as the lawyers for both sides wrangled.

by John on Apr 21, 2005 | Global War on Terror (GWOT) | Observations on things Military
» Villainous Company links with: Welcome Home
» Marine Corps Moms links with: First Welcome for 1/7 Marines

April 20, 2005

In other news.

The Queen of All Evil marks her Blogiversary! Yay Rosemary!

SWWBO has been having a rough trip to New Orleans so far. She needs advice on Laptop Repair, discovers Prodigal Son is looking at moving in with TWO chicks this summer (oh, and some poopyhead dented her rental car), and is a touch annoyed at all the people who A: aren't Catholic, but feel they should have had a voice in the selection of the Pope (talk about *Unclear on the Concept!*), and B, feel the Pope should modernize the Church to reflect current tastes, fads, and trends... (see *Unclear on the Concept*). Ya want that - be a Unitarian. Or, of late, Episcopalian.

Speaking of Pope Benedict XVI... what's with the Moonbats and the Nazi thing? (HT: Confederate Yankee)

Lessee - 14 year old boy enrolled in Hitler Youth. Because it was mandatory. Yep, definite *Nazi* there. Enrolled as a "Flak-hilfer", as were many youngsters too young for full military service. This during a time when enemy bombers were overhead almost daily, knocking things flat. Again, this makes the guy a Nazi sympathizer? Sounds to me it makes him rational. Those bombers are *killing* his friends and family. Knocking flat *his* home and schools... burning *his* cities.

We're talking a high-schooler here, in the middle of a war, where people are dangling from lamp-posts or slumped against walls with holes in their chests for arguing about things - and somehow this taints him? Puh-leeze. I'd give John Kerry a break on that, and I won't give him much of a break on anything.

Finally gets drafted into the Reich Labor Service (as was just about every available male not already carrying a rifle or building tanks) is sent to build defensive works - and manages to desert from that (during a time when deserters were shot for sport by the authorities) and that is cited as more proof of Nazi sympathy.

Looks to me like survival in a war zone during the diminuendo of a bad war.

Of course, if the Nazi meme doesn't work, they'll start calling him a deserter.


No, I'm not Catholic, either. I was raised a 'piskie and never confirmed in anything - but I *do* sit on three boards for Catholic Charities... why? Because they do Good Stuff, well. And at least locally, where I see the financials, efficiently (which has nothing to do with me - it was true before I showed up). it *is* bemusing to get letters from the Bishop addressed "Dear Senior Catholic Leader"... when I'm a Weddings and Funerals kind of church-goer.

Gerry, over at Daly Thoughts has a good 'Reax to the Pope' post. The fact that *we* are included should *not* cause you to believe we were unduly influenced!

by John on Apr 20, 2005 | General Commentary
» Daly Thoughts links with: Papal Reactions

With Denizen Status....

...comes responsiblity. Like any good quasi-military organization, we have administrivia and an administrator for same. The following has been brought to my attention:


TO: J Donovan, Armorer, Commanding, Castle Argghhh!
FROM: B Way, Adjutant
RE: Roster and Personnel records


You asked for a status on the Roster and Personnel project. I regret to report that I have been unable to provide the final report due to the lack of natal day intel for various denizens. I have made direct appeals to those who are non-compliant, which filled in several spots, but I am still missing 4 or 5.

In one case of deliberate insubordination, a certain individual did NOT provided the requested information through the proper channels, but has published it improperly in an unsecured Public Forum.

I therefore have to request an extension of the due date for the final report.

B Way

Get with the program, or I will cry "Havoc!" and let slip the Scrup'ls of Argghhh! That or I'll set Punctilious on you. I've *seen* how she handles children. You people would be easy.

"I have the worst job...

“ the entire world.”

Except for the lucky few, we’ve all thought that at one time or another, right?

Just to help you keep things in perspective…

TINS* [This Is No Sh*t--standard War Story Alert]

When I first joined the Guard after the South East Asian Unpleasantness, our aviation det was strictly Old-Guy (WWII vets) and New-Guy (Vietnam Vets). Thirteen pilots, thirteen aircraft--good times, except when the weather was uncooperative.

One Saturday morning, it was uncooperative. Three of us--Norm, who flew Scout ships with the First o’ the Ninth in RVN, Bill, who flew B-24s out of Libya in WWII, and yours truly--were sitting in Ops, drinking coffee and keeping each other company. The talk gradually turned to the been-there-done-that…

Part I

Norm took a sip of coffee.

“We were working the Iron Triangle and the world opens up on us. I beat feet about a klick away and C ‘n’ C [Command and Control aircraft—a Huey with three additional FM radios] calls for an airstrike.

"About ten minutes later, I hear a fast-mover call ‘On station,’ then C ‘n' C vectors him for the strike. I look ‘way, ‘way up and I see this B-57 at about 5,000 feet, and just as I start to think, ‘He can’t even hit Vietnam from up there,' he rolls on his back, noses it over and comes screaming out of the sky like a Stuka.

"Straight down.

"So, he’s coming down and the green basketballs are going up and I think, 'Oh, man--am I glad I don’t have that job.'

"He drops a coupla 500-pounders and pulls out and the bombs hit and there’s smoke and flames and green basketballs following him back up into the sky. He gets up to five grand, rolls and noses again and comes straight down through the basketballs. He pickles the load and pulls out. The whole grid square jumps fifty feet into the air, then falls down again.

"No basketballs.

"C ‘n’ C sends me over for a BDA [Bomb Damage Assessment] and I’m flying through dust and smoke and leaves and I see what’s left of a good-sized base camp. I start calling in so-many bags of rice burning, so-many bunkers destroyed, three .51 cals destroyed, and I start looking for bodies.

"Now the B-57 pilot asks C ’n’ C if he’ll be able to get a BDA to his Ops within the hour. C ‘n’ C says, ‘If you hang around for about a minute, I can give it to you now. I’ve got a guy in there already.’

"B-57 pilot says, ‘Do you mean to tell me there’s actually somebody down there in that mess? Oh--wait a minute, I see him. Gawd, I wouldn’t want that job.’ “

Part II

I put my coffee down.

(Click on Extended Entry for the rest. It's a bit long, but a fast read...)

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by CW4BillT on Apr 20, 2005 | This is no Sh*t!

April 19, 2005

Keeping a promise and sharing a kewl one.

The pics of the CF-104 doing the flyby with the CF-18s being so popular... here's the photo I promised Ben, of the Tiger In Winter.

Some more colo(u)rful CF104's.

Hi-res click here.

Heard about FAE? Fuel-Air Explosive? Wondered what *that* looked like?

Click here and wonder no more!

by John on Apr 19, 2005 | Aircraft

Stuff of interest.

I'm guessing someone's suffered a career ding for this one. Hat tip, Bill B!

The American Soldier will probably go over 150K today - go ahead, try to be that one!

On a related note, the Castle will probably break 500K tonight.

Over at Blonde Sagacity - bittersweet letters home to grieving families, and Bill the Rotorhead guest-posting and baring all...

In Denizen news...

AFSis has a still-on-the-short-side-of-it mid-life crisis. Geez, you young people!

SGT B has made the Spokane Spokesman-Review's list of local bloggers! While the Castle did make it into the National Review's list - locally we're virtual unknowns. Good on ya, Sergeant!

Chief Contrarian Jack, who lives among the French, offers his views of same.

Snarkatron, who has a Brain Housing Group the size of a small planet - shares ways to annoy instructors while in college. She also reminds us of an anniversary we missed - but Vodkapundit didn't - and the enduring importance of duct tape.

Barb has been hanging with Jack, and talking economics.

As ever, Cassandra is simply rolling along!

SWWBO has troubles on the road... Cricket blames "Mean spirited poopyheads" (read the comments)

Sadly, Alan admits to hygiene problems...

Castle Philosopher Kat takes on Apologists for Islam.

Lastly, but not least - Punctilious has a serious dilemma on her hands!

Moving on, CAPT H sends:

A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter.

"What are you doing?" She asked.

"Hunting Flies" He responded.

"Oh. Killing any?" She asked.

"Yep, 3 males, 2 Females," he replied.

Intrigued, she asked. "How can you tell them apart?"

He responded, "3 were on a beer can, 2 were on the phone."

CAPT H also sends along this article about political parties in British Columbia... I'm all for buying BC (one party's platform is to sell BC to the US) but, can we carve off Vancouver? Make it a part of Washington? Then let Van-Sea-Tac be "Fantasy Islands" and the remainder of BC and Washington could be... BC and Washington?

by John on Apr 19, 2005 | Denizen Link-Fest! | Denizen Link-Fest!
» There's One, Only! links with: Good Joke!

April 19th, some years ago in a small town in New England...

...the central government came to sieze near-state-of-the-art military weaponry in the hands of the locals, who had come to not show proper deference to the representatives of that government...

Hi-res click here.

By the rude bridge which arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world.

Hi-res click here. (Nice Brown Bess, btw!)

For a whim - the BBC's look at things.

Hi-res click here.

From that seed was to spring the greatest disaster to ever befall mankind, in the eyes of Leftists and Dictators the world over... the United States of America.

April 18, 2005

The Future of the Army

The American Enterprise Institute held a conference earlier this month on the Future of the Army. I would have liked to go, but I don't sit high enough up in the structure of my firm to get them to pay for it without doing a big paper justifying it - and didn't know about it early enough to write the paper... so, I settle for things like the Cliff's Notes of the conference. Given the spirited discussion of the Ralph Peter's piece in this space - I thought I would provide this, too. And no, for those who are wondering - I don't work for the company the author of these notes does.

As ever with symposia like this - the common threads and the disagreements are more informative of the debate than any single detail.

Click here for the pdf. You'll at least need Acrobat Reader (a free applet).

There is more detail (including a transcript of GEN Schoomaker's remarks) available at the AEI website.

For you sailors, Admiral Vern Clark will be the keynote at the Future of the Navy Conference on 10 June.

April 17, 2005

Afghan Sitrep: "At least the kids are laughing..."

MSG Keith, the Castle's War Correspondent, is getting ready to hand over the reins and return home shortly. Accordingly, his output on current events has slowed, considerably - but his past work, unshared here, still offer useful glimpses into the what, why, and how of our work in Afghanistan. Here is Keith's Thanksgiving dispatch. Keith was concerned that the relative lateness would cause me to not want to publish this.

Keith - the last paragraph alone is reason to publish this. So here it is.

18 Nov Takhar We flew up for a grand opening of a National Army Volunteer Center in the city of Taloqan in the Takhar province. I had to fly up early because of limited room in the main body flight. Which worked out good for me since it gave me more time to take photos before all the pomp and circumstance started. Takhar is on the northern border with Tajikistan, formerly part of Russia. They have a lot more rain and water, so there was virtually no dust. Just mud. There were a lot of maple trees at the end of the color change. Things were a lot greener, which you can see in some of the scenery photos taken from the helo ride on the way home. For some reason, the people in Takhar like to decorate their horses. Almost all had a lot of flowers and other ornate stuff on their harnesses. There were a lot of spectators, especially kids. The kids were cool. Just like kids anywhere, but more on that later. We got to eat an Afghan lunch of kabobs with some kind of meat. (we don't ask what kind of meat. if you have to ask, you probably shouldn't be there....) They also have these candied almonds that are awesome. Someone says it's a biggie here. Anyway, attached are a couple pictures from Takhar. Pay particular note to the one labeled ANP boy. He's a 13-year old in the Afghan National Police. And that's an AK-47 he's carrying. They grow up quick here....

23 Nov Herat
Another grand opening of an NAVC [National Army Volunteer Center, a recruiting station, ed.]. They are getting routine, but I go just to be able to see more of the country. But not too many good photos this time.We flew up in a C130 airplane. It was flown by Missouri Air National Guard guys. Taz is their mascot. It would have been a 4-and-a-half hour flight by helicopter. We landed in Herat on the Iranian border. I was taking pictures of the general shaking hands when someone taps me on the shoulder and says, "They let anyone into Afghanistan, don't they?" I turned and it was an officer that had been in my Ft. Pierce National Guard unit back in the 80's and 90's. He and a couple other guys I knew were deployed to Herat. Small world. The opening was routine, except the commander of the recruiting command talked for 40 minutes, and killed the time schedule we had. It was located outside of town so there weren't any kids around. There was a group of girls from a local school who sang during the ceremony. They were cute. The lunch was back at the governor's palace which dates back a few hundred years. Herat was claimed by the Persians at one time, then the Brits and Afghans kicked them out in the 1800's. After the lunch the general wanted to visit the Afghan Army Regional Command Center. So half the group went back to the airfield and we went to the command center. Here is where the trip gets interesting. Apparently, the C130 crew we had in the morning left and a new regular Air Force crew replaced them. We get a phone call at the regional command center that the crew was ready to leave and they were leaving, with or WITHOUT the two-star Air Force general they were sent there to pick up. So we hauled a** back to the airfield. We drove out onto the tarmac and had to run to the ramp on the back of the C130 because they already had all four engines running. We get in and sit down. The Afghan NAVC commander and his two sons were flying back with us. The Air Force "gentlemen"(since this is going to mixed company, I won't use the term I would normally use....) said "they aren't on the passenger list, they aren't going" and kicked them off the plane. Even though we had 10 or 12 empty seats. So we take off. The pilot, expecting missiles or gunfire or whatever Air Force "gentlemen" expect when they take off, started doing evasive maneuvers immediately after taking off. Very severe evasive maneuvers. One of the security guys for the general got sick and puked on the floor. After that, then the "gentlemen" started flying level. Guess no one will shoot at an airplane with puke on the floor... We landed at Kabul International and started to taxi. The tower however, wouldn't let us taxi into where we had our vehicles parked. We had to taxi to the end of the runway, which took about 10 minutes. We pulled into the designated area and there was discussion on how to get the drivers to the vehicles. A couple minutes later, another C130 taxied in behind us. Come to find out, the tower got us mixed up with the other C130 so now we had permission to taxi the 10 minutes back to our parking area. All in all , an interesting trip. Thanks 'gentlemen".

25 Nov Thanksgiving
On Turkey Day, we all volunteered to work two hour shifts in the guard towers so that they could have the day off. That's their job 365 days a year, so it was proposed and we volunteered. I had a tower by the front gate. School must have let out because around 1130am a bunch of elementary aged school kids walked by wearing backpacks. They were typical kids. Laughing, giggling, hitting each other, poking each other. Just like kids at home. And half were girls. One of the other volunteers came up in my tower and we talked for a few minutes. One of the things we talked about were the kids. He's a special forces colonel who guys were here right after 9-11. The differences he said was that back then there were no girls walking home from school. And the kids didn't laugh. His guys would try to do stuff to get them to laugh or even smile, but without luck. We are winning the war here. We are doing good stuff. They still have a long way to go, but at least the kids are laughing...

Aviator Zen

Hi-res click here.

03/30/05 - An HH-60H Seahawk, assigned to the "Dusty Dogs" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Seven (HS-7), fires flares during an air power demonstration performed by the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing Three (CVW-3) for the Sailors and Marines aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) on March 30, 2005. The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group, currently operating in the Mediterranean Sea, was recently relieved after completing a nearly four-month deployment in the Persian Gulf in support of the war on terror. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Patrick Marvin Lee Copeland)
by John on Apr 17, 2005 | Aircraft