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June 10, 2006

H&I Fires 10 June 06

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

[I'm setting up H&I Fires myself even though it's early for a Saturday because I didn't want anybody to miss the following. - FbL]

Powerline points you to your must-read for the weekend.

TERRORIST-INFESTED RAMADI in the wild west of Iraq is for U.S. troops the meanest place in the country, "the graveyard of the Americans" as graffiti around town boast. There is no better place to observe American troops and the fledgling Iraqi army in combat. That's why I came. When military public affairs asked where I wanted to be embedded, I told them, "the redder, the better" (red means hostile). So they packed me off to Camp Corregidor in eastern Ramadi with the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

...There are four minarets within sniping distance of Corregidor, and the gentlemen in these places of worship regularly shoot at the raised observation posts around the camp and sometimes into the camp itself. Mortars as large as 122mm smash into Corregidor on average every other day. I saw a steel container (the kind carried on flatbed trucks and train cars) hit by a mortar; it looked like an aluminum can blown up with a cherry bomb. Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) pop up like mushrooms, and vehicle-borne IEDs delivered by young men determined to get at those 72 perpetually renewing virgins are also a constant threat.

Author Michael Fumento is former Airborne himself. He's also reported on Fallujah and the letters he received from families of the 101st. - Fuzzybear Lioness


Once again, the Recruiters (and those gullible recruits haven't absorbed it in 3 years, either) are not reading their DU/Kossack instructions.

The regular Army signed up 5,806 new recruits last month, compared with its target of 5,400, and the Army National Guard and Army Reserve also exceeded their May goals, according to statistics released by the Pentagon.

All the other services met their goals, too. -The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 10, 2006 | General Commentary

June 09, 2006

H&I Fires* 9 June 06

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

The Blogfather on "The Price of Nice" or, Canada, wake up!

High class political speech at a local level. Hee! At least Kathleen Ensz was probably more honest than most political operatives in expressing herself.

Princess Crabby has two funny posts (more than that, but I'm linking two) up at the moment. One is a discussion of the Castle Rulez (and she gets fire support from some Usual Suspects, so read the comments), and the other is a Verra Nice Graphic she stole from some guy's wall, probably after seducing him and leaving him helpless to prevent her looting. -The Armorer


Can anybody explain why this article--first published early yesterday afternoon and usuing data that was stale before it was even published--has any current relevance? Update: AP recasts the story a bit.

I just like the title of this article by our Australian friends.

And there's something a little odd about the "budding journalist" in Haditha and the Hammurabi Organization for Human Rights and Democracy Monitoring. Read it carefully. - FbL


CAPT B watches Representative Murtha so we don't have to. If Murtha's assertion is correct, amazing coincidence about that F-16 just happening to be in "Target Lock" mode when the "ground-based explosion" occured. -The Armorer


Denizen Bloodspite makes a suggestion for the Portcullis.

Darn those nosy kids! What's wrong with a little afternoon delight?

Well, we're batting .500 so far. Of course, for the thoughtful anti-war left, this would be batting 1000. -The Armorer


Fascinating obituary for Zarqawi, in that inimitable British style... - FbL
Cindy Sheehan's in Cincinnati today, telling reporters (and anyone else too stupid to listen) "it is not noble to die for an unjust cause." I'm sure Casey is comforted by the knowledge that his Mom believes he died without honor simply because she opposses the war that took his life. I was thinking about attending her rally later tonight, but I just don't want to waste my time on her. *sigh* ~AFSister


Those crazy astronomers - they sound like the Armorer at the Boomershoot!

Astronomers were excited by the news.

"There were ground tremors, a house shook and a curtain was blown into the house," Norway's best known astronomer Knut Jørgen Røed Ødegaard told

Small nuke hits Norway. It is undoubtedly Bush's fault. -The Armorer


Kevorkian Society enjoys another satisfied customer. -kat


Ah - I see I was channeling FbL in my last post... -The Armorer


Some soldiers you should meet. Specialist Izzy Flores and Sergeant Daniel Mootoosamy. -The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 09, 2006 | General Commentary
» Don Surber links with: Vote fraud, the NYT remix

On the importance of that high school diploma!

See kiddies? This is why it's important to finish high school:

Ahmad al-Khalailah’s childhood was characterised by fighting constantly with other boys and he left school at about 16 without obtaining a certificate of secondary education. There followed a series of short-term menial jobs and petty crimes that allowed him to drink heavily and aspire to a life in the West. According to official records in Jordan, he spent some time in prison “for sexual offences”.

...or you too, can grow up like Zarqawi.

Update: It appears that the Zark-man ain't getting his ashes hauled quite as he expected in Paradise. He briefs his AAR at Iowahawk.

The NYT performs an inadvertent service.

Pointing out an idiot Pentagon official:

According to a Pentagon official, the Americans finally got one. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the raid are classified, [emphsis mine - perhaps there's a *reason* such details are classifed?] said that an Iraqi informant inside Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia provided the critical piece of intelligence about Mr. Rahman's [i.e., Zarqawi's "spiritual adivser"] meeting with Mr. Zarqawi. The source's identity was not clear — nor was it clear how that source was able to pinpoint Mr. Zarqawi's location without getting killed himself. [Unclear to the Times, perhaps, you can bet al-Qaeda will have figured it out by now - as Dr. Johnson observed " "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." They have the incentive]

"We have a guy on the inside who led us directly to Zarqawi," the official said.

Not any more, we don't. Hopefully because we extracted him, vice other, more grisly, options.

Boy, I shoulda been an anonymous blogger. There's so much more I could talk about, going waaaaay back to the beginning of my career! And here all this time, all I hadda be was anonymous!

Hey, the hafway sophisticated among us were able to connect those dots, certainly. Still, when you are trying to recruit insiders, it just strikes me that having semi-official confirmation of details like this, doesn't make more confidence building among the target audience. Even if we *did* bring this guy in from the cold.

Just sayin'.

But I'm not a high-powered defense official. I only play one on this blog.

by John on Jun 09, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Berg: No Good in Al-Zarqawi's Death
» The Right Nation links with: Message From Above


If you don't understand the title - visit Greyhawk's post.

What with the flurry on the 'net with OIF Alphabet V1.0 and OIF Alphabet V2.0, and Bubblehead's posting of one of the more complete versions of the Staffer's Hard Sayings Log, it's time to bring up the Commander's Guidance bit.

Just minutes away from the Change of Command ceremony, the outgoing and incoming commander are in the commander's office chatting about the unit, the personalities of key leaders (formal and informal), strengths and weaknesses, and wouldn't she back off a bit on that Change of Command inventory? The outgoing commander looks at his watch, sighs, then opens the safe.

Beckoning Captain Newbie over he says, "This is my gift to you. It was given me by my predecessor, and you'll probably pass it on to your successor." Reaching in the safe, he pulls out a shotgun envelope (those who know, know). Holding it up, he looks Captain Newbie in the eye and says, "There are three envelopes in here, numbered 1-3. When you are in here late at night, at wit's end about some problem you are sure is going to cause you to get your head handed to you on a platter, open up an envelope. In order."

With that, he turns, tosses the shotgun into the safe, spins the dial, initials the sheet, and off they go to pass the guidon.

A month later, Captain Newbie is sitting in her office, discussing the practical upshot of a rocket fired at her at Commanders and Staff Call that morning. The First Shirt looks at her and says, "Shite, ma'am - I have no farking idea. This is officer business." Sighing, Captain Newbie sips her rapidly cooling green-tea-with-a-twist and suddenly remembers that last chat with Captain LongGone... who happens to now be one of those lying conniving bustards on the staff who is pinning her ears to the wall with those damn'd rockets... Spinning around to the safe, she spins the dials, grabs the shotgun, opens it, and pulls out Envelope #1.

Ripping it open, in it she finds a long-fallen-into-disfavor and blotched and stained (are those *tear-stains*?) Optional Form 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal slip (which are supposed to be used for Routing and Transmittals, dope - not Memos!), on which she finds scribed in somewhat blotchy ink (hey, it's crappy paper and the pens are made by blind people - who does the QC, huh?):

"Blame your predecessor."

"Aha! I've got you, you bustard!" she shouts exultantly. And promptly drafts an RBI (Reply By Indorsement) to the rocket explaining, in great and gory detail, how the current problem is a legacy of the sorry weasel who was her predecessor and the measures she will take to fix the problem. Saving that doc, she opens up her email (after fiddling with that damn CAC card reader - *again*) and drafts up a note for the boss. Addressing it to the battalion commander, CC'd to her predecessor's rater and senior rater, and bcc'd to her fellow commanders, she hits 'send' with a sense of fierce satisfaction over having shown that Staff Weenie who he was dealing with.

Nine months later, Captain Wornout is sitting in her office, sipping thick cold almost-chewy mud left over from this afternoon's pot o' joe, staring at the malevolent document (she could swear it's got a sickly green glow to it) that ominously sits, heavy with dark foreboding, in the middle of her desk.

It's labeled "Report of Inspection, 537th Widget Repair and Refurbishment Company, Annual General Inspection FY 2006."

There's a stench of decay coming from the report and a strong smell of fear coming from Captain Wornout, though it can be hard to tell the difference. Sitting there, the dregs of cold, stale coffee clinging slime-like to the sides of the cup, head held in her hands, she ponders. She can't blame Captain LongGone. He's really long gone. She was so successful there that he's been PCS'd to be the Army LNO at Thule Air Base, Greenland. For a special 5 year tour, with an optional 3 year extension. Unaccompanied. Where the commander’s greeting letter starts out thusly:

Greetings! On behalf of Colonel Im Knot There, commander of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson AFB, Colorado, I am pleased to welcome you to the top of the world! Thule is the U.S. Armed Forces' northernmost installation, located 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Thule's arctic environment offers some of the most spectacular scenery found anywhere in the world, including majestic icebergs in North Star Bay, the massive polar ice cap, and Wolstenholme Fjord, the only place on Earth where three active glaciers join together.

Coming out of her reverie, her eyes brighten up a bit - and she spins around, spins the dial, opens the safe - and out comes the shotgun. With trembling hands, she opens Envelope #2. Out falls another old, dilapidated, nearly unreadable OF 41 (Rev 7-76). Gingerly reaching down and picking it up, she lays it down on the blotter, and knocks her coffee cup over, adding yet another stain to an already nearly unreadable Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Blame the System"

Giddy with relief, she fires up Powerpoint, and produces a stunning document showing how the system is fatally flawed. As an added bonus, she shows how those inept inspectors from the IG's office completely botched their inspection.

Three months later, Captain Burnedout is staring in horror at *another* IG report lumped together with an AR 15-6 Investigation. This one detailing how it was her fault, and her fault alone, that her safe had been left open, allowing persons unknown to steal the contents, which included classified information, unit fund receipts, and several rosters with social security numbers on them which have been used for a rash of identity theft scams in the last three months - all laid at her door because she didn't annotate that Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet that night she opened Envelope #2. (The real culprit was her Charge of Quarters that night, Sergeant Safecracker, who saw his opportunity when he noted the form wasn't properly annotated - but that's a different story.)

Stubbing out her cigarette into the oil-sheened dregs of coffee (is that a whiff of whiskey?) in her brown-stained mug, Captain Burnedout turns and looks at her Nemesis. That damn'd safe. Spins the dial (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) and pulls out the shotgun. Locking the safe and spinning the dial to be sure (carefully annotating the Standard Form 702 (8-85)(EG) Security Container Check Sheet) she tiredly turns back to her desk and stares at her savior, Envelope #3.

Slowly, deliberately, she carefully opens the envelope. Out drops a nearly pristine OF 41 (Rev 7-76) Routing and Transmittal Slip.

"Prepare three envelopes"

June 08, 2006

H&I Fires* 8 June 06

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

D+2 The build-up continues. -The Armorer


In a post below, I snark, and link to a tongue-in-cheek look at the Dem's reactions to Zarqawi's death. Via Confederate Yankee, we are led to Texas Rainmaker - who notes that the Democratic Party Base simply cannot be parodied. -The Armorer


Defense Tech has a good 'rolling coverage' of Zarqawi-related news.

Only the Academic Submariner would note Zarqawi's assumption of room temperature by quoting Shakespeare and Patton - together.

It appears CENTCOM has posted the airstrike video. I'd expect server delays. H/t, Chuck Simmins.

Update - I snatched it. You can get it much more quickly here - but please right click and save as. -The Armorer


Welp. That's kinda funny and sad all at the same time. Weird, eh? ~AFSis


Sad - Sad Day. Let this day be forever known as The Great Tokarev Masacree Day. Mark my words: Estonia will pay for this; oh the horror!


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 08, 2006 | General Commentary
» Stop The ACLU links with: Michael Berg: Only Sadness at the Death of Son’s Killer, Al-Zarqawi
» A Rose By Any Other Name links with: Hallelujah!

Zarqawi - an alternative view.

Or really, a look from a different perspective.

From a mailing list I inhabit, from an intel analyst:

Call it the James J. Angleton in me, and not to look a gift horse too closely in the mouth, al Zarqawi's death is a mixed blessing. I am certainly glad that he has gone to the land of the forty virgins, no mistake about that. al Zarqawi had, I believe, outlived his usefulness, He had outlived his utility and had been attempting to aggrandize his position -- authority over Jordan, etc. Osama bin Laden is the father figure for al Qaeda, He needs not a first born son. The whole concept of al Qaeda is a flat organizations very loosely interrelated, any attempt to create a hierarchy goes against the bin Laden rules. al Zarqawi's death releases all the nascent al Qaeda influenced groups to operate as he envisaged. The danger is still there. Therefore, it would be most interesting to track back the intelligence sources which revealed his movement and position. Small additional point: whether 500 lb. bombs or Hellfire missiles, what has been obliterated is not only the target and his aides, but also, most probably, a set of very valuable records. These would include his penetration both the provincial hierarchies but also the national government, and any relations with other countries.

Big D, in a comment over at Milblogs, offers up this counter:

Considering that he was in relatively one piece when they dragged him out, I'd suggest that they might have pulled some other things of interest when they sifted through the rubble.

Also, the 17 raids that they launched when they no longer needed them as stakeouts for the Z apparently got them a lot, too.

Now, the whole thing about whether AQ was ready for Z to go is another issue; they might not mourn him much either at this point.

I see this portrayed on TV as a victory that may lead to further victories, but IMHO it's the other way around... this is a direct result of the successful negotiation with most of the Sunni parties, who are now handing over some of their bargaining chips, particularly the ones that have outlived their usefulness.

by John on Jun 08, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Political News and Blog Aggregator links with: Berg: No Good in Al-Zarqawi's Death

Snerk! Got him.

"You are cleared in hot."

'Roger, clear for target engagement."



"Cue Munchkins"

"Ding-dong, the bitch is dead!"

Ding dong, the bitch is dead!

Hey, it ain't over, someone/thing will rise to take Zarqawi's place. But we can savor the moment, can't we. Well done, guys and gals!

However, in a secret meeting room, somewhere deep in the Adirondacks, gloom prevails.

Secretly, deep in the dark recesses of their political hearts, some people are devastated.

Chippy McChirpy, Staff Aide, observes, "Wow! We really dodged a bullet! I'm surprised they didn't keep this a secret until the week before the elections!"

Enjoy your raisins, dude.

by John on Jun 08, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» The Thunder Run links with: Web Reconnaissance for 06/08/2006
» A Healthy Alternative to Work links with: Ingredients: Mechanically-separated Abu Musab al Zarqawi
» A Healthy Alternative to Work links with: Ingredients: Mechanically-separated Abu Musab al Zarqawi
» Stop The ACLU links with: ZARQAWI IS DEAD!
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Another One Bites the Dust
» Don Surber links with: Thank you, Air Force
» A Blog For All links with: Grand Slam

Oh, no! Say it isn't so!

The magazine of Hamas, the democratically-elected 'government' (such as it is by *my* standards of government) publishes a cartoon that says, essentially, "Piss on Democracy." D-uh.

The current issue of the Hamas weekly has a cartoon of a Palestinian child urinating on the Statue of Liberty, which is holding a book labelled 'Democracy'. This expression of utter disdain for the US and its democracy follows other recent slurs in the PA media. For example, the West was condemned in March at a Palestinian rally: <br />
'for many years of trying to penetrate Islamic youth with dubious things such as the ideas of democracy.' (Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 4, 2006)

Think the Danish cartoons. Moslems complain about our not respecting them over a cartoon, well, its our turn to be upset.

The current issue of the Hamas weekly has a cartoon of a Palestinian child urinating on the Statue of Liberty, which is holding a book labelled "Democracy". This expression of utter disdain for the US and its democracy follows other recent slurs in the PA media. For example, the West was condemned in March at a Palestinian rally:

"for many years of trying to penetrate Islamic youth with dubious things such as the ideas of democracy."
[Al Hayat Al Jadida, March 4, 2006]

I dunno. I feel curiously unmoved by criticism from this quarter. I certainly don't feel like rushing out and destroying my neighbors and fellow-countrymen's property, much less killing them in a riot.

What's wrong with me? Oh, that's right. The fact that I *don't* feel like that is evidence of my moral decline and depravity.

Otay. Gimme summa dat.

H/t, Strategy Page.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

Yanked from the comments

This from uruloki early this morning:

TINS: Zarqawi is dead. Sorry for the comment instead of email, but best way to communicate for me... I have the press release up on my site, feel free to snag it.

So, I snagged it. The CNN update is there, too.

by CW4BillT on Jun 08, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Stop The ACLU links with: ZARQAWI IS DEAD!

TINS!* Times Two

I racked my brain for a while, trying to decide how to spin this turkey highlight certain portions of the tale in order to give you something other than the usual humdrum yawner sedate narrative you’ve come to tolerate expect from me. But I decided against it, because I had a brain stall of galactic proportions wanted to give you an example of how gut-wrenchingly dull prosaically routine most of our missions were…

*tongue planted so firmly in cheek you couldn’t budge it with det cord*

Instead, I dumped half of it in V29’s lap asked V29 for an assist, since, after all, that’s what this particular TINS! is all about. If you want to follow the action on a Tac Map, drop in here and visit the third map from the bottom, third map from the left. I'll let Two Niner start it rolling...

TINS! Times Two; or, He Said / I Said / We Said

V29: In the months leading up to the Cambodian Invasion in May 1970, the 162nd AHC, nightly, flew border patrols from the Parrot's Beak to Ha Tien. We would base from a small airfield adjacent to a Special Forces compound in Moc Hoa. Our team consisted of a C-model gunship fireteam and a C&C/flareship. Or, when we had it equipped an H-model with flares, .50 cal, mini-gun and infrared sight.

V15: This was also the time frame that the Army was doing its first experiments with a Huey “night fighter”--the INFANT (Iroquois Night Fighter And Night Tracker), a UH-1M (which was a Charlie-model gunship beefed up with an H-model engine) equipped with a Low Light-Level TV. The First Cav played around with a couple of them in III Corps until February 1970, then came down to see how well it would work in the Delta. I got tagged to fly C & C for the lads (and that’s a subject for a whole separate TINS!--*really* made me appreciate how much flight discipline we kept in the 162d). Anyway, while Two-Niner was NightHawking along the border, I was babysitting the INFANT (heh) above the Plain of Reeds...

Partial map of IV Corps. Ha Tien to the west, the Parrot's Beak to the east, which is actually west of Saigon, which in turn is east of...never mind.

*go ahead and ignore the area labeled “Ambush” for the time being--it’s okay, you can ignore it--awwww, c’mon, ignore it*

Most of the time, we staged from Can Tho, but this night we, too, were working from Moc Hoa. I had the company's other .50 cal at the crewchief’s station, a twin-M60 mount at the gunner’s station and five flares strapped to the floor.

V29: On the day in question, probably around late March to early April '70, we had the second configuration and I was AC of the H-model. The night patrol had passed uneventfully and our gunship had departed for Can Tho early, while we waited to see if the Team needed to transport any personnel to Can Tho. At our release time we took off for home with no passengers. We were maybe, 10 minutes outbound when a Navy Mike Boat came up on Guard seeking assistance.

V15: We’d had a so-so night. The Charlie-model gunship in *our* team was an Outlaw from Vinh Long. He’d been plagued with electrical glitches during the first mission, so the Cav AMC (Air Mission Commander) released him and opted to launch the 0300 mission with just his top cover--me. After an hour of boring holes in the night sky, the Cav found a squad-sized element moving south along one of the canals leading to the junction we called the Big Wagon Wheel (Why? Because it had more intersecting canals than the *Little* Wagon Wheel. Duh). After some clock-cleaning, he dropped to fifty feet (he flew blacked-out, so I had to drop to eighty feet to keep him in sight) and followed their backtrail north. He popped a pair of rockets at a sampan, then broke left (without warning me) and the secondary that fireballed its way past my nose added my night vision as collateral damage. We decided to scratch the pre-dawn mission and headed to Moc Hoa for fuel and a chat with the radar operators, just to confirm we hadn’t busted the Cambodian border during our gyrations. The Cav launched for Can Tho before first light and we were just cranking up when Two-Niner departed. Enroute to 1,500 feet for the trip home, we heard the Navy’s Mayday (he'd taken an RPG hit) and Two-Niner’s answer. And you just *know* I wasn’t gonna nonchalantly continue to motor south, don’t ya?

[Aside: We called almost everything Mike-Boats (from Mobile-Riverine), including what the Navy called PBRs (Patrol Boat, Riverine) or PCRs (yadda Craft yadda); what the Navy originally called Mike-Boats couldn’t even fit in a canal. Adding to the merriment, there were smaller craft the Navy also called Mike Boats, and (naturally) they also called Monitors Mike Boats. But as far as we were concerned, if it was one of ours and in a canal and wasn’t a hovercraft, it was a Mike Boat and a PBR was warm beer in a rusty can. We were a bit more precise when referring to the floating POL points...]

V29: He reported having wounded and taking heavy fire from both sides of a narrow, heavily wooded canal. I could hear the fire over the radio and the quiet desperation in his voice. As we had an uneventful night, we had a full ammo load, so I decided to see what help we could provide. I made for the coordinates he gave me and had no trouble finding him. The boat was dead in the water and smoking. They were in a fight for their lives for sure.

V15: I was still a good five miles away when I spotted Two-Niner making an orbit around some smoke and figured I’d stay high and play top cover while he did whatever he was planning to do. I wasn’t worried about him biting off more than he could chew, because whatever a NightHawk Huey bit got royally chewed in the process. And I had no desire to collect a .50 cal ricochet, either, so I climbed to 2,000 feet and started a wide right orbit.

V29: By this time we were told the wounded were in need of immediate evacuation. But, I couldn't blindly put my ship and crew at risk. It was necessary to have a look-see and assess the situation. We circled at 1500' and hosed down both sides of the canal with our .50 and minigun. It took a few minutes to impress on Charles that we meant business and had the means to cause them extreme harm. Charlie blinked, taking cover to assess the situation. Surprised at the opportunity, but taking advantage of the lull in fire, I ordered the boat to lower their radio antennae and descended to pick up the wounded. I put my skid on the side of the boat and hovered while the wounded were loaded. At this point the LtJG in command asked if there was anyway to get him out of the kill zone. His engine was kaput and he was rightfully afraid that when we departed Charles would be back to finish him off. What the heck, my H-model could push that little tinderbox about as fast as his engine could, thought I. So, around to the stern I went and placing my skid there, I hovered sideways, while the Navy steered, pushing the boat about 400 yards down the canal to a spot where it widened and the banks were devoid of heavy foliage. At this point, confident that further assistance was on the way, I left them and took the wounded directly to a Navy hospital ship in the bay at Vung Tau. My landing on the hospital ship is a story for another time.

V15: Most of the reason Charlie kept his nose out of it while Two-Niner played with the boat was a reluctance to mess with a NightHawk and the remainder of the reason was us, circling at two grand, squirting rounds from the twin-sixty on our outbound leg and dumping expended brass into the woodlines on the inbound leg (rapidly-descending 7.62 casings warble--they sound just like inbound 60mm mortar rounds). When I saw him reposition to the stern, followed immediately by the Mike-Boat beginning to move out smartly, my first thought was that the boat was under fire again and Two-Niner was now pulling a moving medevac, which is a real thrill. When I realized he was *pushing* the boat, I figured the Boat Boss had just promised him a surf ‘n’ turf lunch in the Navy Mess at My Tho…

V29: I can't remember who my gunner or PP were, but I'm quite sure the CE was Jim M. It amazes me that I have little clear memory of so much of my tour. There are maybe three or four incidents that are etched in my mind and I think of them often. Were they real or figments of my imagination??????? It was unpopular on Wall Street in the early '70s to be a RVN vet, so I never talked of my experiences and may, in fact, have suppressed them to the point that I only remember incidents where the adrenaline was flowing freely. The rest is gone, only to return when somebody prompts me with a memory of theirs. Well that is how I recollect one's my story and I'm sticking to it.

V15: I clued him in on his Peter-Pilot’s ID, since I’d heard that Daown Ee-yust twang when PP mashed the floor mic button, forgot his selector switch was still set on Reed Control’s FM frequency and started whining about the tail rotor getting close to the trees. But he confirms one thing I’d previously realized--if something wasn’t a significant event, the basics (what happened and where) get dribbled into memory, but the details (date, crew, exact sequence of events) vanish until somebody says, “Hey, I need a little help with a story I want to do…”

Epilogue: What’s all the current teeth-gnashing about “Jointness” being so devastatingly difficult to achieve? We did it thirty-odd years ago--it was dirt-simple:

1. Navy (or Air Force or Marines) get into trouble and call for an Army helicopter.

2. Army helicopter arrives and saves the day.

See? What could be simpler?

Post-epilogue: As the Princess has constantly (and fetchingly) pointed out in the past, we sometimes engage in squid-snarks around this place, but I must confess to a certain admiration for the Navy--after all, I can attest to the fact that it was the *first* uniformed service to utilize, in combat, a brown-water patrol boat powered by a four ton, turbine-engined outboard motor with a 48-foot prop.

Operated by an Army crew.

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

Gratuitous Squid Snark: I'll betcha I've landed on more different types of naval craft than Lex has--including to the *width* of the flight deck. Twice.

*sigh* But we can't use the phrase "Boys In Blue" to snark the sister services anymore, evidently. Although I'll bet John will take issue with one of the reasons given for the switch--

• In quality, the blue Army Service Uniform is made of a durable material that is suitable for daily use without special care.

It's gotta be a real nuisance trying to find the exact shade of blue for those spandex™ side-seam inserts...

by CW4BillT on Jun 08, 2006 | This is no Sh*t!

June 07, 2006

H&I Fires* 7 June 06

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


OMFG. If you've ever been owned by a dog, thought about being owned by a dog, want to reinforce why you'll never let yourself be owned by a dog... read this. H/t, SWWBO!~ -The Armorer


The VA info theft is even worse than originally thought.

Michael Yon's must-read for the week is here.

Canadians and the effects of PC-itis: Sometimes there just aren't words enough to describe it.

In this media age a lie is halfway around the world before the truth laces up its shoes. That was proven in spades this week: the original lie from the weekend, the truth laces up, and the lie lives on. I'll agree with Dadmanly more than Michelle Malkin on who to castigate for this. But it's disturbing that a picture of bound and executed Iraqis in association with a story of American Marines seemed perfectly reasonable to all who saw it before publication. And regardless of how/why the error was published, it's now in danger of becoming an iconic image. - FbL
The father of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder is suing Phred Phelps and his so-called church, accusing its members of defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress upon the Snyder family. If you've never read the Wikipedia article on Phelps, you should. He's even more scary to me after reading that! It's going to be hard to win, but I sure as heck hope they do.
From the court document, here's a little of what Phelps published on his website regarding Matthew and his parents: " (his parents) RIPPED that body apart and taught Matthew to defy his Creator, to divorce, and to commit adultery. They taught him how to support the largest pedophile machine in the history of the entire world". SICK SICK SICK
The attorneys for the Snyder family are taking the case on a pro-bono basis, but there will still be court costs to cover. If you can help, please click on this link and follow the "donate" button at the top. (h/t to Jon the Mechanic for bringing this lawsuit to my attention!) ~AFSis


They had an article on Phelps a few days ago in the Memphis paper. Lovely man. So let's all take a deep breath, close ranks (literally) around the families of our honored dead, when the time is right and we're granted permission to do so, and let Spirit take care of Phred. Oh, by the way, want to know what fighter pilots do when they die? They go to fighter pilot heaven--here's a peek. Even the guys who think gays should be left alone go there (sorry Phred). P.S. Even while still in the mortal coil it's fun to do it--it's more relaxing than you might think... -Instapilot


Argghhh! Lieutenant Shallow-Thought is a Redleg! The Shame! I need a tequila. -The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 07, 2006 | General Commentary

When he asked so nicely... could I refuse Lex's request?

The Armorer tests out some new kit

Unlawful orders, the proving of.

Every officer of the Armed Forces, at some time or another, signs a document affirming these words, then, in a formal ceremony somewhere, states them publicly (often times less the "having been appointed" bit, especially at multi-service commissioning cermonies):

"I, [Johnny Shavetail], having been appointed an officer in [one of the Armed Services] of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of Second Lieutenant, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of The United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter. So help me God. "

Usetabe we did that for every promotion, too, but that has long since fallen by the wayside. A pity. It was a useful reminder. BTW - if you are an officer and you can't recite that from memory - you aren't a professional, no matter how many times you've been promoted below the zone and what your OERs say I detest it when officers have to read the oath at ceremonies. There is simply no excuse.

Note that it doesn't say "I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter if and when I agree with what I've been asked to do."

There is, in fact, no provision for that anywhere, especially when the legal obligation to serve is a minimum of 8 years of service whether all on active duty, in the reserve, or a combination of the two. Something you know when you sign that document and stand there proudly swearing the oath.

The only way out is for the convenience of the government. Sometimes easily granted, sometimes not. Sometimes forced upon you, for performance problems, sometimes granted you because you ask, via a resignation. But for those first eight years, it is *always* at the convenience of the goverment.

And later, if you have contracted to stay on longer - those rules loosen up. Unless you're on a wartime footing, and stop-loss policies have been implemented. Then, even with 20 years in, you may not be allowed to retire or resign.

And it's something we all know. Anyone who says they didn't understand that is lying, or slept through a good chunk of their pre-commissioning process.

We're also not allowed to obey illegal orders. We are, in fact, expected to refuse to obey them - regardless of the personal, hopefully short-term, but possibly long-term, consequences.

Comes now before us 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, assigned to a Stryker Brigade set to deploy to Iraq.

In one of the first known cases of its kind, an Army officer from Honolulu is expected to refuse to go to Iraq this month with his unit, citing what he calls the "illegal" and "immoral" basis of the war, his father confirmed.

The officer, 1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada, 28, son of former state campaign spending commission executive director Bob Watada, is believed to be one of the first military officers to publicly take steps to refuse his deployment orders.

"My son has a great deal of courage, and clearly understands what is right, and what is wrong," Bob Watada said yesterday. "He's choosing to do the right thing, which is a hard course."

On this website ( Lieutenant Watada is quoted as saying, "I refuse to be silent any longer. I refuse to watch families torn apart, while the President tells us to 'stay the course.' ... I refuse to be party to an illegal and immoral war against people who did nothing to deserve our aggression. I wanted to be there for my fellow troops. But the best way was not to help drop artillery and cause more death and destruction. It is to help oppose this war and end it so that all soldiers can come home."

William Cole, writing for The Honolulu Advertiser says that 1LT Watada has tried to resign his commission twice since January, both times his application having been denied. Properly, I would add.

Presumably, the Lieutenant *would* have gone with his unit if they had been deploying to Afghanistan. Hopefully someone will ask that question at the press conferences scheduled for today.

Note that Watada is not seeking conscientious objector status, because he does not oppose all wars, only this particular one.

Which puts Lieutenant Watada on the horns of a dilemma.

Let us assume that Lieutenant Watada is sincere. We owe him that much.

If so, he is taking the high road. His sole defense of his actions is going to be "Refusing an illegal order." Absent a *stunning* action on the part of a Courts Martial panel, he's going to get convicted. His defense team is going to have to be miracle workers to successfully assert that the war in Iraq is illegal in terms by which it will excuse his actions - and, by extension, condemn every other serving officer as a war criminal for not having refused. Oh, there's room to maneuver in there, but when you strip it down to the essentials - that's it.

Jay, over at Stop The ACLU, has his own post on the subject, which includes this interesting snippet, which demonstrates perfectly the utter cluelessness of the anti-war crowd, and the oh-so-sophisticated members of our society when it comes to issues of civilian control of the military:

“I’ve been doing this for nearly 40 years and I’m somewhat astounded that in the context of a war that is becoming increasing unpopular that they are relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues,” said attorney Eric Seitz from Hawaii.

Relatively unsophisticated in addressing these issues, Eric? Ah, of course, we should have all sorts of caveats and qualifiers for service in these oh-so-enlightened times. Military personnel should have a menu of options for a ala carte selection of which orders they will obey and which ones they will not. It's all about choice, and personal happiness.

Unless, of course, the worthless bastard officer chooses to not support a war I happen to support, then that slimy bastard better be in jail.

That's not the way it works. Those of us who have been entrusted to have our hands on the levers of the tools that comprise the state's right to legitimate violence do not get to pick and choose which wars we will go to. I was a serving officer during Kosovo. I didn't like Kosovo for many of the same reasons I didn't like invading Iraq. I served. If recalled and sent to Baghdad, I would go. Why?

Because I swore an oath, still binding, to defend and uphold the Constitution, not the UN Charter, or some other international body, and there is nothing yet under US law which has established that the actions the US took in invading Iraq were illegal. If I had been ordered to abuse prisoners at Abu Ghraib, there's plenty of room there for a defense of a refusal to obey that order.

Under the law applicable to the military, there is no such smoking gun over Iraq as a war.

So I would ask the anti-war crowd this: Do you *really* want we Myrmidons picking and choosing which wars we will go to? Do you *really* want us Ruthless Killers telling our civilian overlords to stuff it? Do you *really* want us Mindless Robots openly resisting the will of the Executive, as authorized by the Congress, and not hindered by the Courts?

Do you? Really? Because if you do, that way lies the Praetorian Guard, and a death spiral to fully fledged Banana Republic status, where the Generals decide who they will allow to rule.

And Lieutenant Watada, while a very small cog in this, represents a confluence of issues that lie at the core of our system of governance and control of the miltary.

Well and good. The Lieutenant disagrees with this policy. He has offered to resign his commission over it. This has been properly rejected. If he carries through today with his intention to not deploy, he is casting the die, and is going to have his day in court.

That's how it's supposed to work. Even if, as I see it, this is a symbolic self-immolation, as I don't see any grounds to acquit at this point. I'll be interested to see what serious defense his team produces.

Regardless, this is a far more honorable course than the one taken by John Kerry during Vietnam. Of course, if Kerry were to release unredacted records, we might find that John Kerry did some form of protest like this, got whacked, and then, mindful of his desire to be President, threw over his ethics to get his record expunged so he could go into politics. I don't know. In the event, it wouldn't change my mind about his fitness to be President, so I suppose there is no upside for Kerry from my perspective on that issue.

Which leaves Lieutenant Watada on the horns of a dilemma. One that will probably land him in the stockade, minimum sentence being the length of his unit's deployment.

No matter. It will be interesting to see if the Lieutenant moves into Karpinski's orbit. She could probably use an aide.

by John on Jun 07, 2006 | Observations on things Military
» CatHouse Chat links with:
» Small Town Veteran links with: Another Day, Another Coward
» Michelle Malkin links with: A DESERTER, NOT A "DISSENTER"
» Stop The ACLU links with: Fort Lewis Officer Says He’ll Refuse To Deploy
» Op For links with: Betraying an Oath

June 06, 2006

H&I Fires* D+22,630

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

The Red Ensign Standard, a compendium of posts from the blogs of Canadians Militant, flies at Just Between Us Girls.

The latest Carnival of the Recipes, TV Week edition, is available at Moutaineer Musings.

In honor of the sailors of D-Day, a pic of their descendants on the USS Saipan:

Mediterranean Sea (June 4, 2006) - Landing Craft Utility one Six Five Eight (LCU 1658) assigned to Attack Craft Unit Two (ACU-2) prepares to enter the well deck of the Amphibious Assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2) after completing routine operations during exercise Phoenix Express. The exercise provides U.S. and allied forces an opportunity to participate in diverse maritime training scenarios helping to increase maritime domain awareness and strengthen emerging and enduring partnerships. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's mate Airman Patrick W. Mullen III

Mediterranean Sea (June 4, 2006) - Landing Craft Utility one Six Five Eight (LCU 1658) assigned to Attack Craft Unit Two (ACU-2) prepares to enter the well deck of the Amphibious Assault ship USS Saipan (LHA 2) after completing routine operations during exercise Phoenix Express. The exercise provides U.S. and allied forces an opportunity to participate in diverse maritime training scenarios helping to increase maritime domain awareness and strengthen emerging and enduring partnerships. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's mate Airman Patrick W. Mullen III

Denizen Bloodspite's D-Day offering: Fox Green Beach.

The soldiers who stormed ashore are the main story of D-Day, but we would be wholly remiss not to mention the Destroyers that closed in-shore and dueled with bunkered guns on the beaches. -The Armorer


How We Make Marines (don't miss the pics). - Fuzzybear Lioness

Before the invasion, Eisenhower's staff estimated between 20% and 70% casualties for the invasion. He solomnly gave this information to the leaders he briefed. They paused momentarily and asked, if they did not do the invasion at that time, what would be different in the future. I think everyone recognized the reality. It was invasion now with tremendous losses, or invasion later with possibly less available troops and equipment, more troops would die in Italy and Africa, they could lose the operation tempo and they would still have to invade the continent with massive casualties. They could lose the war.

The nod was given to go ahead. Casualties for Normandy Invasion:

45,000 Dead Coalition Forces
173,000 Wounded and Missing
12,200 Civilian Dead and Missing
320,000 Dead, wounded and "missing" enemy forces

That is the price of freedom. Pray we never have to pay it again, because we still haven't paid the the debt.

We owe. - Kat


Matt at Blackfive has a good round-up of D-Day in Blogworld. -The Armorer


On behalf of The Sand Pebble’s Crew, we would like to pay homage to one of that day’s many heroes. Lex, 74, and Smash would be proud.

Clip 1.
Clip 2.
Clip 3.

It ain’t over ‘till it’s over!!! - BOQ


I wish I had written this: Top 11 Things That Anti-War Protesters Would Have Said At the Normandy Invasion on D-Day (Had There Been Anti-War Protesters At Normandy) -The Armorer


Oh, and Boq - from that website where you put those files - I like this one: Bad Boys! -The Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 06, 2006 | General Commentary
» Ordinary Everyday Christian links with: Bloggers Remember D-Day
» Righty in a Lefty State links with: Standing up to the Phelps
» Political Satire Fake News - The Nose On Your Face links with: "Winged Death" Defeated, Islamists Turn Attention To Learning


[Armorer's note: The Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allies for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy on or after 7 December 1941. The performance of the unit in question must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions so as to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would warrant award of the Distinguished Service Cross to an individual.]

Announcement is made of the following award:

U.S. Presidential Unit Citation Presented to Joint Task Force Two NR-06.025 - June 2, 2006

OTTAWA – The Canadian Forces unit (CF) Joint Task Force Two (JTF 2) was presented with the United States Presidential Unit Citation from the United States Ambassador to Canada in a ceremony today. JTF 2 received the citation for its outstanding contribution to the multi-national Special Operations Forces task force in Afghanistan in 2002.

“This presentation of the United States Presidential Unit Citation serves to recognize the outstanding work and contribution of all members of JTF 2,” said Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor. “This unit continues to play a pivotal role in the safety and security of Canadians at home and abroad through its efforts in the campaign against terrorism.”

“JTF 2 has proven to be a significant enhancement to our combat forces in the campaign against terrorism,” said Chief of the Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier. “This recognition, one of few publicly recognized events we’ve had due to the unit’s counter-terrorism role, serves to highlight the significant impact that JTF 2 continues to have on behalf of all Canadians and our allies.”

On December 7 2004, the President of the United States presented the Presidential Unit Citation to the Commander of the Joint Special Operations Task Force – SOUTH (JSOTF-SOUTH) for its success during operations in Afghanistan from October 2001 until April 2002. Canada’s JTF 2 was one of several international units in JSOTF-SOUTH who have been formally presented with this citation.

The United States Presidential Unit Citation is awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and allied nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or after 7 December 1941. The unit must display such gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions as to set it apart and above other units participating in the same campaign.

JTF 2 is a Canadian Forces Special Operations unit responsible for federal counter-terrorist operations. It provides a force capable of rendering armed assistance in the resolution of an incident that is affecting, or has the potential to affect, the national interest. The primary focus is counter-terrorism; however, the unit can expect to be employed on other high value strategic tasks.

Thoughts relevant to the issues of the day.

Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.
- George C. Marshall, 1880 - 1959

Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.
- Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, 1769 - 1852

Keep those in mind as you read this from the (not New York) Times.

The wrong target: Terrorism, not America, is a real and present threat to our freedoms.

Al-Haditha, a town on the Euphrates northwest of Baghdad, is still a place where fighters blend into the populace and literally use civilians as cover. Coalition forces may shoot only when threatened, ground rules that call for exemplary discipline and courage in conditions where their observance increases the risk of injury or death.

And just because I like it:

Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy.
- Henry Alfred Kissinger

H/t, Jim C.

And you really should read Dadmanly's post ("The Wrong Target" trackback link below) on this subject.

by John on Jun 06, 2006 | Global War on Terror (GWOT)
» Dadmanly links with: The Wrong Target

D-Day, H-Hour

The Order. So clean, so clear, so simple.

The result.

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The Short-Term Cost.

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The Long-Term Gain.

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by John on Jun 06, 2006 | Historical Stuff
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered
» Absinthe & Cookies (a bit bitter, a bit sweet) links with: D-Day Remembered
» Mudville Gazette links with: Mini - Dawn Patrol

H-5, D-Day.

Donald R. Burgett - a Screaming Eagle of the 101st Airborne who dropped on D-Day. An excerpt from his book, Currahee! A Screaming Eagle At Normandy, which is well worth the read.

Screaming Eagle before loading the aircraft

The time was 1:14 A.M. June 6, 1944. Suddenly the green light flashed on.

"Let's go," screamed Lieutenant Muir at the top of his voice, and he, along with Carter and Thomas gave the big bundle a shove. Lieutenant Muir followed it out; Carter did a quick left turn and followed him into the prop blast; Thomas did a right turn and followed Carter. I could see their static lines snap tight against the edge of the door and vibrate there with the force of the outside wind pulling on them.

"Go," a voice screamed in my brain! "Hurry!" Speed was the most important thing now, so we would all land as close together as possible. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion again, but I knew that it was really happening in just fractions of seconds as I made my right turn into the door and with a left pivot leaped into dark space.

There were thirteen men following me out the door, but I couldn't see any of them. Doubled up and grasping my reserve chute, I could feel the rush of air, hear the crackling of the canopy as it unfurled, followed by the sizzling suspension lines, then the connector links whistling past the back of my helmet. Instinctively the muscles of my body tensed for the opening shock, which nearly unjointed me when the canopy blasted open. From the time I left the door till the chute opened, less than three seconds had elapsed. I pulled the risers apart to check the canopy and saw tracer bullets passing through it; at the same moment I hit the ground and came in backward so hard that I was momentarily stunned.

I lay on my back shaking my head; the chute had collapsed itself. The first thing I did was to draw my .45, cock the hammer back and slip the safety on. Troopers weren't issued pistols, but my father had purchased this one from a gun collector in Detroit and sent it to me in a package containing a date-and-nut cake. Captain Davis kept it in his possession for me and let me carry it on field problems. He had returned it to me when we entered the marshaling area.

The pilots were supposed to drop us between 600 and 700 feet, but I know that my drop was between 250 and 300 feet. The sky was lit up like the Fourth of July. I lay there for a moment and gazed at the spectacle. It was awe inspiring; I have never seen anything like it before or since. But I couldn't help wondering at the same time if I had got the opening shock first or hit the ground first; they were mighty close together.

The snaps on the harness were almost impossible to undo, and as I lay there on my back working on them, another plane came in low and diagonally over the field. The big ship was silhouetted against the lighter sky with long tongues of exhaust flame flashing along either side of the body. Streams of tracers from several machine guns flashed upward to converge on it. Then I saw vague, shadowy figures of troopers plunging downward. Their chutes were pulling out of the pack trays and just starting to unfurl when they hit the ground. Seventeen men hit the ground before their chutes had time to open. They made a sound like large ripe pumpkins being thrown down to burst against the ground.

"That dirty son of a bitch pilot," I swore to myself, "he's hedgehopping and killing a bunch of troopers just to save his own ass. I hope he gets shot down in the Channel and drowns real slow."

There wasn't any sense in going to those men, for I had seen the results of me hitting the ground with unopened chutes before. If by some miracle one of them were still alive, he would be better off to be left alone to die as quickly as possible; it would be more merciful.

By this time I was free of my harness, had my rifle assembled and loaded, and had crawled to my canopy. Cutting a panel out with my knife, I stuffed it into a pocket to use for camouflage later, and then started out to find someone else, anyone else. More planes went over, but they were flying so low, fast and scattered that it was impossible to orient myself with their direction. I would have to play this one by instinct. In fact, all the troopers would have to do it this way. We were so widely scattered that all the months of practiced assemblies in the dark were shot in the ass. We would have to do this one on our own.

The night was one of those mild June nights that poets write about, but this was neither the time nor the place for poetry. There was the booming of antiaircraft guns and mortars all around and the close stitching of German light and heavy machine guns raking the skies and hedgerows. Small arms fire erupted everywhere and sometimes it broke out hotter than the hinges on hell's gates in one spot. It would rise in ferocity until the fire power became a loud roar, then gradually taper off, sometimes even coming to a complete silence. I could see a mental picture of a few paratroopers running into a German fortification and fighting until they either took the place or died trying.

Small private wars erupted to the right and left, near an far, most of them lasting from fifteen minutes to half an hour, with anyone's guess being good as to who the victors were. The heavy hedgerow country muffled the sounds, while the night air magnified them. It was almost impossible to tell how far away the fights were and sometimes even in what direction. The only thing I could sure of was that a lot of men were dying in this nightmarish labyrinth. During this time I had no success in finding anyone, friend or foe. To be crawling up and down hedgerows, alone, deep in enemy country with a whole ocean between yourself and the nearest allies sure makes a man feel about as lonely as a man can get.

Paratroops moving through a french village on D-Day

by John on Jun 06, 2006 | Historical Stuff
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered

D-38, Slapton Sands.

D-Day was made possible by this training exercise among many other preparations and the invasion went on in spite of...

Operation Tiger, Slapton Sands.

Sometimes, war is just hell. In today's media environment, however, we'd have seen calls for canceling the invasion and just coming home to mind our own business.

Sherman Tank recovered from the sea off of Slapton Sands (lost during a previous exercise) and made into a monument by Mr. Ken Small

There will be lots of D-Day stories scattered around the web today. I thought I'd bring this one to your attention. Given the environment today, this seem apt.

'Slapton Sands: The Cover-up That Never Was' By Charles B. MacDonald (Extracted from Army 38, No. 6 (June 1988): 64-67

"It was a disaster which lay hidden from the World for 40 years . . . an official American Army cover-up."

That a massive cover-up took place is beyond doubt. And that General Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized it is equally clear."

Generals Omar N. Bradley and Eisenhower watched "the murderous chaos" and "were horrified and determined that details of their own mistakes would be buried with their men."

"Relatives of the dead men have been misinformed -- and even lied to -- by their government. "

It was "a story the government kept quiet ... hushed up for decades ... a dirty little secret of World War II."

What was that terrible event so heinous as to prompt those accusations of perfidy 43 years later from the British news media from some American newspapers and in a particularly antagonistic three-part report from the local news of the ABC affiliate in Washington D. C. WJLA-TV?


It was two hours after midnight on 28 April, 1944. Since the moon had just gone down, visibility was fair. The sea was calm.

A few hours earlier, in daylight, assault forces of the U S 4th Infantry Division had gone ashore on Slapton Sands, a stretch of beach along the south coast of England that closely resembled a beach on the French coast of Normandy, code-named Utah, where a few weeks later U.S. troops were to storm ashore as part of history's largest and most portentous amphibious assault: D-Day

The assault at Slapton Sands was known as Exercise Tiger, one of several rehearsals conducted in preparation for the momentous invasion to come. So vital was the exercise of accustoming the troops to the combat conditions they were soon to face that commanders had ordered use of live naval and artillery fire, which could be employed because British civilians had long ago been relocated from the region around Slapton Sands. Individual soldiers also had live ammunition for their rifles and machine guns.

In those early hours of 28 April off the south coast in Lyme Bay, a flotilla of eight LSTs (landing ship, tank) was plowing toward Slapton Sands, transporting a follow-up force of engineers and chemical and quartermaster troops not scheduled for assault but to be unloaded in orderly fashion along with trucks, amphibious trucks, jeeps and heavy engineering equipment.

Out of the darkness, nine swift German torpedo boats suddenly appeared. On routine patrol out of the French port of Cherbourg, the commanders had learned of heavy radio traffic in Lyme Bay. Ordered to investigate, they were amazed to see what they took to be a flotilla of eight destroyers. They hastened to attack.

German torpedoes hit three of the LSTs. One lost its stern but eventually limped into port. Another burst into flames, the fire fed by gasoline in the vehicles aboard. A third keeled over and sank within six minutes.

There was little time for launching lifeboats. Trapped below decks, hundreds of soldiers and sailors went down with the ships. Others leapt into the sea, but many soon drowned, weighted down by water-logged overcoats and in some cases pitched forward into the water because they were wearing life belts around their waists rather than under their armpits. Others succumbed to hypothermia in the cold water.

When the waters of the English Channel at last ceased to wash bloated bodies ashore, the toll of the dead and missing stood at 198 sailors and 551 soldiers, a total of 749, the most costly training incident involving U.S. forces during World War II.

Allied commanders were not only concerned about the loss of life and two LSTs -- which left not a single LST as a reserve for D-Day -- but also about the possibility that the Germans had taken prisoners who might be forced to reveal secrets about the upcoming invasion. Ten officers aboard the LSTs had been closely involved in the invasion planning and knew the assigned beaches in France; there was no rest until those 10 could be accounted for: all of them drowned.

A subsequent official investigation revealed two factors that may have contributed to the tragedy -- a lack of escort vessels and an error in radio frequencies.

Although there were a number of British picket ships stationed off the south coast, including some facing Cherbourg, only two vessels were assigned to accompany the convoy -- a corvette and a World War I-era destroyer. Damaged in a collision, the destroyer put into port, and a replacement vessel came to the scene too late.

Because of a typographical error in orders, the U.S. LSTs were on a radio frequency different from the corvette and the British naval headquarters ashore. When one of the picket ships spotted German torpedo boats soon after midnight, a report quickly reached the British corvette but not the LSTs. Assuming the U.S. vessels had received the same report, the commander of the corvette made no effort to raise them.

Whether an absence of either or both of those factors would have had any effect on the tragic events that followed would be impossible to say -- but probably not. The tragedy off Slapton Sands was simply one of those cruel happenstances of war.

Meanwhile, orders went out imposing the strictest secrecy on all who knew or might learn of the tragedy, including doctors and nurses who treated the survivors. There was no point in letting the enemy know what he had accomplished, least of all in affording any clue that might link Slapton Sands to Utah Beach.

Nobody ever lifted that order of secrecy, for by the time D-Day had passed, the units subject to the order had scattered. Quite obviously, in any case, the order no longer had any legitimacy particularly after Gen. Eisenhower's Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force, in July 1944 issued a press release telling of the tragedy. Notice of it was printed, among other places, in the soldier newspaper, Stars & Stripes.

With the end of the war, the tragedy off Slapton Sands -- like many another wartime events involving high loss of life, such as the sinking of a Belgian ship off Cherbourg on Christmas Eve, 1944, in which more than 800 American soldiers died--received little attention. There were nevertheless references to the tragedy in at least three books published soon after the war, including a fairly detailed account by Capt. Harry C. Butcher (Gen. Eisenhower's former naval aide) in My Three Years With Eisenhower (1946).

The story was also covered in two of the U.S. Army's unclassified official histories: Cross-Channel Attack (1951) by Gordon A. Harrison and Logistical Support of the Armies Volume I (1953) by Roland G. Ruppenthal. It was also related in one of the official U.S. Navy histories, The Invasion of France and Germany (1957) by Samuel Eliot Morrison.

In 1954, 10 years after D-Day, U.S. Army authorities unveiled a monument at Slapton Sands honoring the people of the farms, villages and towns of the region "who generously left their homes and their lands to provide a battle practice area for the successful assault in Normandy in June 1944." During the course of the ceremony, the U.S. commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Gen. Alfred M. Guenther, told of the tragedy that befell Exercise Tiger.

All the while, a detailed and unclassified account of the tragedy rested in the National Archives. It had been prepared soon after the end of the war by the European Theater Historical Section.

For anybody who took even a short time to investigate, there clearly had been no cover-up other than the brief veil of secrecy raised to avoid compromise of D-Day. Yet, in at least one case -- WJLA-TV in Washington -- the news staff pursued its accusations of cover-up even after being informed by the Army's Public Affairs Office well before the first program aired about the various publications including the official histories that had told of the tragedy.
Yet why, a long 43 years after the event, the sudden spate of news stories and accusations?

That had its beginnings in 1968 when a former British policeman, Kenneth Small, moved to a village just off Slapton Sands and bought and operated a small guest house. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, Mr. Small took long walks along the beach and began to find relics of war: unexpended cartridges, buttons and fragments from uniforms. Talking with people who had long lived in the region, he learned of the heavy loss of life in Exercise Tiger.

Why, Mr. Small asked himself, was there no memorial to those who had died? There was that monument the U.S. Army had erected to the British civilians, but there was no mention of the dead Americans. To Mr. Small, that looked like an official cover-up.

From local fishermen; he learned of a U.S. Sherman tank that lay beneath the waters a mile offshore, a tank lost not in Exercise Tiger but in another rehearsal a year earlier. At considerable personal expense, Mr. Small managed to salvage the tank and place it on the plinth just behind the beach as a memorial to those Americans who had died. The memorial was dedicated in a ceremony on the 40th anniversary of D-Day.

That ceremony prompted the first spurt of accusations by the British and American press of a cover-up, but they were soon silenced by publication of two detailed articles about the tragedy: one in American Heritage magazine co-authored by a former medical officer, Dr. Ralph C. Greene, who had been stationed at one of the hospitals that treated the injured; the other in a respected British periodical, After the Battle. Those were carefully researched, authoritative and comprehensive articles; if anybody had consulted them three years later, they would put to rest any charges of a cover-up and various other unfounded allegations.

Kenneth Small, meanwhile, wanted more. Although persuaded at last that there had been no cover-up, he nevertheless wanted an official commemoration by the U.S. government to those who had died. Receiving an invitation from an ex-Army major who had commanded the tank battalion whose lost tank Mr. Small had salvaged, he went to the United States where the ex-major introduced him to his congresswoman, Beverly Byron (D-Md.), who as it turned out is the daughter of Gen. Eisenhower's former naval aide, Capt. Butcher.
With assistance from the Pentagon, Rep. Byron arranged for a private organization, the Pikes Peak Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army in Colorado, where the 4th Infantry Division is stationed, to provide a plaque honoring the American dead. She also attached a rider to a congressional bill calling for official U.S. participation in a ceremony unveiling the plaque alongside Ken Small's tank at Slapton Sands.

Information about that pending ceremony scheduled for 15 November, 1987, set the news media off. There were accusations not only of a cover-up, but also of heavy casualties inflicted by U.S. soldiers, who presumably did not know they had live ammunition in their weapons, firing on other soldiers. Nobody questioned why soldiers would bother to open fire if they thought they had only blank ammunition ... or why a soldier would not know the difference between live ammunition and blanks when one has bullets, the other not. Nor was there actually any evidence of anybody being killed by small arms fire.
There surfaced a new an allegation made earlier by a local resident, Dorothy Seekings, who maintained that as a young woman she had witnessed the burial of "hundreds" of Americans in a mass grave (she subsequently changed the story to individual graves). Dorothy Seekings also claimed that the bodies are still there.

At long last, somebody in the news media -- a correspondent for BBC television--thought to query the farmer on whose land the dead are presumably buried. He had owned and lived on that land all his life, said the farmer, and nobody was ever buried there.

That tallies with U.S. Army records that show that in the first few days of May 1944, soon after the tragedy, hundreds of the dead were interred temporarily in a World War I U.S. military cemetery at nearby Blackwood. Following the war, those bodies were either moved to a new World War II U.S. military cemetery at Cambridge or, at the request of next of kin, shipped to the United States.
Yet many like Ken Small continued to wonder why it took the U.S. government 43 years to honor those who died off Slapton Sands. Those who wondered failed to understand U.S. policy for wartime memorials.

Soon after World War I, Congress created an independent agency, the American Battle Monuments Commission, to construct overseas U.S. military cemeteries, to erect within them appropriate memorials and to maintain them. Anybody who has seen any of those cemeteries, either those of World War I or of World War II, recognizes that no nation honors its war dead more appropriately than does the United States.

Only the American Battle Monuments Commission--not the U.S. Army, Air Force or Navy -- has authority to erect official memorials to American dead, and the American Battle Monuments Commission limits its memorials to the cemeteries, which avoids a proliferation of monuments around the world. Private organizations, such as division veterans' associations, are nevertheless free to erect unofficial memorials but are responsible for all costs, including maintenance.

Soon after the end of the war, veterans of the 1st Engineer Special Brigade, which incurred the heaviest losses in Exercise Tiger, did just that, erecting a monument on Omaha Beach to their dead, presumably to include those who died at Utah Beach and those who died in preparation for D-Day.
At Cambridge, there stands an impressive official memorial erected by the American Battle Monuments Commission to all those Americans who died during World War II while stationed in the British Isles. That includes the 749 who died in the tragedy off Slapton Sands, and there one finds the engraved names of the missing.

Long before 15 November, 1987, the U.S. government had already honored those soldiers and sailors who died in Exercise Tiger.

Eaglespeak honored these men in his Memorial Day post.

by John on Jun 06, 2006 | Historical Stuff
» BLACKFIVE links with: D-Day Remembered

June 05, 2006

H&I Fires* 5 June 06

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

Still a busy week in history.

1942 Midway: B-17s attack Japanese ships, with no effect, despite
press. Heh. We took pictures.
1947 Secretary of State George C Marshall outlines the "Marshall Plan"
1967 The Six Day War begins between Israel & its Arab neighbors
1984 Indira Gandhi orders attack on holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple. The Sikhs are still *very* annoyed about this.
-The Armorer


A lot of things going on in the world, beyond our little contretemps. Did you know that there has been nearly a week of freedom protests in Iran? That the Chinese in Hong Kong held a commemoration of the Tianneman Square incident (though government agents insured none took place in the actual sqaure)? That the Peruvians rejected their Chavista candidate and voted in a free market fellow after Chavez threatened the voters with reprisals for not voting for his associate? Read "Freedom is the Fire" for links (video included).

Speaking of Chavez, he's pushing forward with "Land Reform" (ie, land theft) and the owners aren't really happy. History tells us that, when socialist and Communist totalitarians begin land distribution, the usual outcome is "submission by starvation". - Kat


Ladies and Gentlemen, I say unto you: Jack Francis. -The Armorer


Greg and Sher need help manipulating, er... uh... MANUEVERING through Tri-Care to get Greg the chemo treatments he needs. This is a call to arms for all of you military types who've been through the military medical system recently! Oh. And while you're there... take time to appreciate things like waterproof mascara. ~AFSis


Some illegal immigration barriers DO work...
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Here're the particulars:

Bad news:
Both guys were drunk
Both guys were high
Drugs were found in the vehicle
A gun was found in the vehicle
Neither were wearing their seat belts...and I'm not so sure the airbag worked on the drivers side (I have another picture from the driver's side but I can't get it to load but, trust me, I think the steering wheel's gonna leave a mark on his cranium.)
Deceleration distance was approximately 18 inches (decel from ~50MPH to 0 MPH--do the math), and...wait for it...

Both were illegals from Mexico

It gets better--this is one of the entry gates to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (Center of the Universe for Hog drivers) in Tucson, AZ.

Good news:
The driver will be arrested once he's out of intensive care
The passenger was treated and eventually deported to a MEXICAN hospital (!!!)
The East Tac Range probably has a new target.

John McCain, call your office...heh -Instapilot

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 05, 2006 | General Commentary

OIF Alphabet, 2.0

So, Fuzzy, did everybody in the world scoop me on this one, too?

For those who love and appreciate Staff Weenie Humor -

OIF Alphabet V2.0 By The Usual Suspects.

by John on Jun 05, 2006 | Observations on things Military
» Mudville Gazette links with: B is for Boondoggle

Heh. Since Bloodspite noted an absence...

...of gun pr0n in the post below...

Here you go, dude. From the Archives of Argghhh!

by John on Jun 05, 2006 | Militaria

Acting vice bloviating.

Over at Greyhawk's famously Instalanched post on the media and Haditha, I ran into this from one of the participants, "WW", and it piqued my interest,

As for Murtha, I have yet to see anyone at any of the so-called Milblogs successfully impeach a single thing he has said. Murtha has done absolutely nothing but tell the truth. For that he is fiercely hated by those who, in the words of the whackjob colonel in that movie you all love, "can't handle the truth."

I responded:

Having said all I have to say and therefore falling silent in this - I pipe up to ask...

Apropos of nothing else in the discussion and not trying to move the thread...

WW - why "so-called milblogs" vice "milblogs"?

We return this thread to it's original, rambling gait.

WW responded:

John, I say "so-called Milblogs" because I think the Milblogosphere mainly consists of far-right-wing cranks who use military issues as a means to push their far-right-wing agenda.

The best evidence I can offer is the nearly complete silence from the so-called Milblogs about the horrendous problems in health services for returning veterans. Wouldn't you think that, if these were really "Milblogs," the many problems would get more attention? Nary a peep about it at Mudville, Blackfive or any of the rest. It's all right-wing politics, all the time.

To which I responded (in a long delayed post that popped up late, after the dicsussion moved on:

WW, Dave - speaking only for me (I'm in the tier of milbloggers just below your cited sites)...

I've seen discussions on the paucity and inadequacy of PTSD care.

We've followed the travails of wounded soldiers in the system.

Then, rather than write about it, beat our breasts, and wrap ourselves in smug self-satisfaction for having 'spoken truth to power'... we act. Enough so that it was noticed by the BBC. Chuck Ziegenfuss is a "so-called" milblogger, btw.

We can't fix it all, so we picked something we could fix.

Project Valour-IT

Blackfive, Greyhawk, Smash, Lex, and many others (see Project Valour-IT blogroll at my site) have raised, via our blogs, hundreds of thousands (yes, hundreds of thousands) of dollars for that and other projects which directly benefit the soldiers.

There is a milblog cottage industry on the subject. Soldiers Angels.

We just don't brag about it that much.

And then, just today, I went whacking at Congress (admittedly from the Right, though I'm a RINO, not a card carrying Republican) for their cynical use of the VA laptop theft to propose 1.25 billion, yes, billion, dollars to make the VA provide a service the credit agencies already provide for free. I'll take that 1.25 billion. And put it in the health accounts - like I said - here.

Just sayin'. We might not be talking about it on the blogs because we're *acting* on it.

I'm a retired soldier and a 70% disabled one at that, gents. You betcha we pay attention.

What have you guys done besides bitch in the comments of right-wing bloggers?

Update: I see that WW did respond to my last, directly, I missed it in the mass - I owe it to him to put it up here, rather than add it at the bottom:

John, you're right. And let me answer you. I supported the Iraq War for slightly more than a year. And even since then, believe it or not I continue to donate to charities that help the returning vets and I send care packages through Any Soldier -- along with resolutely non-political greetings, on the theory that the last thing someone over there needs to get is a package full of stuff along with a letter that says, "Oh by the way, I'm against your mission."

Good on ya. Now to pick up the thread again.

And looking around, I see that a lot of us *act* vice just whine about it.

I read the left, I see crie de coeurs about how I should think, and how stupid, mean and venal I am. I see them standing around holding signs, the more extreme of them trashing businesses as they "speak truth to power"

I see them earnestly lay out fevered plans, and organizing organizing organizing.

I see lots and lots and lots of telling me how I'm supposed to think, to live, and how I should just shut up and give the government my money, and call me mean-spirited when I object.

But I don't see a lot of productive "acting". I mostly see lots of organizing and moralizing (even where they implicitly reject that a moral stance is possible, since all things are relative) and finger wagging.

I'm sure there is acting going on. I just don't see it around here that much, and I'm just laying out why you might not see lots of blogging on particular subjects... because people are out *acting* instead.

Heh. Interestingly enough, in addition to blogging, I *act*. I literally put my money where my mouth is.

I've sent money for natural disaster relief here and abroad and encouraged others to do the same. I've helped raise money for military-focused charities. As in hundreds of thousands of dollars via blog-groups.

I am a Rotarian - via that venue I've helped almost completely eradicate polio - and done so in conjunction with... the UN. My club has provided funds for water projects in Panama. Our District has funded many water projects in Panama. This year, in addition to water projects, we're moving into equipping medical clinics. Medical professionals in my fairly right-wing club (we reflect our community) routinely donate of their time in the third world providing medical services - on their own dime, many via their (shudder) churches.

I do Meals on Wheels. I've participated in literacy programs. My club has spent thousands of dollars sending thousands of dollars of school supplies to Army units in Iraq to help re-start Iraqi schools. We give out thousands of dollars in scholarships every year. We participate in Group Study Exchanges by which Rotary International sponsors groups of non-Rotarians who travel to foreign climes to study and we host the foreign groups headed this way.

I sit on the local advisory board of a brand-name charity, helping them deliver services efficiently - and through them and the network of local charities I have a real sense of the level of need in my community.

I sit on the regional parent board of that charity - legally responsible for a 15 million dollar a year charitable effort in northeast Kansas. A charity that spends 91 cents of every dollar on services, not salary or perks.

The firm I work for (full of guys and gals like me in our local office) just raised tens of thousands of dollars for the American Heart Association, by being the people who put together the local Heart Walk, from soup to nuts, with yours truly out whacking signs in the dirt, marking the course.

In other words, I'm fairly well connected in the "acting" portion of our community.

And you know who I *don't* see? Aside from the kids in the local schools getting their community service credits? I don't see a whole bunch of lefties. That's not to say that I don't see liberals - though outside of Johnson County and Lawrence, liberals in Kanas are a pretty muted group - I don't see the kinds of people that I read on lefty blog sites.

I do see the kinds of people I read on right-wing blog sites.

I see people who *act*.

Not just bloviate.

Most of whom are so busy acting, they don't have time to blog. Me, I'm a blog-junkie, I pretty much gave up television in order to feed the monster.

Just sayin'

Like all these fine right-wing, mostly milbloggers who choose to *act* vice just beat their digital chests and fire up a bong.

Speaking of which - why don't you act - right now, and give to Project Valour-IT?

The Following Castle Argghhh! Fighting Fusileers for Freedom! Support Project Valour-IT!

by John on Jun 05, 2006 | Politics

June 04, 2006

H&I Fires* 4 June 06

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

This is a busy day in history. I thought Midway deserved it's own post - but other events of interest...

1918 US & French halt Germans at Chateau-Thierry
1934 USS Ranger (CV-4), first US ship designed as a carrier, is
commissioned - Lex's future is assured.
1940 "Miracle of Dunkirk" ends: over 300,000 troops evacuated. There is an alternative view - instructive in this day and age.
1940 German forces enter Paris
1944 Allied forces liberate Rome.
1944 CVE Guadalcanal ASW Group takes U-505; 1st enemy prize since 1815 Captain Daniel Gallery - someone you should know.
1944 Paddle wheel training carrier USS Wolverine sets a/c landing record; 633 in one day. Yep - a paddle wheel carrier! One of two that operated in the Great Lakes to train aviators and carrier crews. -The Armorer


"The wounded live on." - FbL


Stop the ACLU, via their Sunday Funnies, points us to this blog, Sweet Spirits of Ammonia, which honors Marine ingenuity. Yeah, it's an old picture - but a lot of you haven't seen it... and even if you have - it's funny! -The Armorer


Powerline says the suspected terrorists arrested in Canada had international links, including the U.S.

The Washington Post's coverage of Iran: just another reason to question everything you read in the major media. - FbL

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jun 04, 2006 | General Commentary


Sinking Sun Griffith Baily Coale #28 Oil on canvas, 1942 88-188-AB A Marine stands at parade rest on the bow of a PT boat as she moves slowly out to sea from Midway to give decent burial to Japanese fliers shot down on the islands during the battle. The red ball of the rising sun is prophetically repeated by the round disc and spreading rays of the sinking sun.<br />

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Midway. I haven't found any of the Usual Suspects with posts, so I'll have to handle it myself.

Ensign George Gay, someone you should know.

Lex - this link's for you.

Salamander - this link's for you and your surface warrior focus.

Chap - this link's for you and your submariner focus.

74 - it's the sailors who do the work, and the bulk of the dying. This link's for you.

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Some sailors finally woke up, I see. Late sleepers on a Sunday. As is proper, they did a more thorough job.

by John on Jun 04, 2006 | Historical Stuff
» EagleSpeak links with: Miracle at Midway
» CDR Salamander links with: Battle of Midway
» The Indepundit links with: Battle of Midway

Lazy Sunday Caption Contest.

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I'll start you off.

"Ennis and Jack at Sniper School"

H/t, Larry K for the pic!

by John on Jun 04, 2006 | I think it's funny!
» links with: Sniper caption contest @ the Castle

Crazy Aunt Ida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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