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August 05, 2006

H&I* Fires 5 Aug 2006

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


The Right Place has their weekly caption contest up!

Fuzzybear Lioness is sinning!

The Torch - on why Canada is at war.

The Adjutant is traveling - San Diego - watch out!

AFSis outs a$$hats.

Cassandra has Something for the Soul. BZ Chief. She's got something for the funnybone, too.

Trias caught the virus! He also ponders Anti-Americanism, and laments a lack of commentary on his commentary - so go comment. My excuse was Mexico...

Jack ponders Bumper Sticker Politics.

Murray is baffled by Iranian Police... and is sending some hardware to the Castle.

Okay. Your turn. -the Armorer


BTW - Thank you, Murray! (Oh, and I'm envious - you have Den Beste as a commenter!) -the Armorer


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Aug 05, 2006 | General Commentary

Being a family member of a deployed soldier.

by Spc. Kristopher Joseph</p>

<p>October 12, 2004</p>

<p>A young 1st Armored Division family member tries some field gear on for size during the day-long welcome home celebration for V Corps' 1st Armored Division. The event took place in Wiesbaden, Germany, Oct. 7.

I've been off and on tracking some discussions of how, well, um, "weak and wimpy" some military family members perceive other military family members to be.

Whiny, bitchy, complaining. Wusses.

Many of those observations are spot on. But many of them also take on a tone of moral superiority I find grating. Really grating. Just as those people find the whining grating.

I've been on both sides of this. I've been the deployed service member. I've been the kid waiting for Dad to come home. I've done from within the military womb, so to speak, living in quarters on base - and I've done it isolated from all that, essentially living out on our own - and that during an increasingly unpopular war - Vietnam 68-69.

My parents decided that moving to Denver, so we'd be near the grandparents, would be a good idea while Dad was gone. Denver at that time did have Fitzimmons, the huge Army orthopaedic center, and Lowry AFB. But when you live off post, out on the other side of a large city, you might as well be alone. And the nature of how Vietnam was handled at that time, via individual replacements, vice unit rotations, meant that battalions like my father was commanding did *not* have an in-place family support structure. While all the soldiers were together, their families were scattered all across the country.

And even if you lived on base in quarters, you didn't necessarily know anyone else connected to the unit. Mom was the battalion commander's wife - and she knew not one other family member from the battalion. There were none in the area.

Mom had been an Army wife for 18 years. It was her second war. It was going to be Purple Hearts 3-7, and another medal for heroism (not always popular with the distaff side, given the kind of behavior represented...).

And ya know what? It was *hard* We got anonymous phone calls from a$$holes. We had The Telegram. Watching the news was difficult. For the most part I didn't have any trouble in school, but my sister, older than I and in the 9th grade, took some serious crap from kids who knew only what they got from the news and their parents and peers - and it was chic to be anti-military, so my sister was an easy target. Throw puberty on top of that fire, too.

I probably had it the easiest.

No, Mom didn't whine, though I know there were nights with tears, especially after one of those a$$hat phone calls. And the anxiety level crept up a *lot* during Tet '68.

Where am I going with this... well, my sense is the Regular Army is doing much better coping with this war than we did with Vietnam, when it comes to families.

I suspect the Guard is doing very well in some places, and not well in others, depending how well integrated the units are in their communities. And the Reserve... I suspect despite the best efforts of well intentioned people, the Reserve, due to it's scattered nature, is having the hardest time coping.

I guess I'm getting to this - many deployed family members, by nature, nurture, and location, are coping pretty well. Others, unprepared and more paralyzed by fear and confusion, are not handling it well. And it manifests as whining, griping, and anger. And if you've tried to negotiate TRICARE or the military bureaucracy from a position of knowledge... imagine how frustrating it must be to people dealing with it remotely, for the first time.

Okay. For those who are coping, and just can't figure out why others don't just "ruck up and soldier on"... get off your high horse and knuckle down and support these people in whatever way you can - but, geez, Louise, quit the farking sniping and griping from your end. It isn't helpful. It just makes others feel bad, and is a particularly venal form of bullying. If you've nothing to contribute - then don't. Tune it out, ruck up and soldier on yourself. But don't pile on. Skip the blog, dump/block the email.

Because *You* annoy the ones of us who *do* happen to be perfect, much more than the whiners... because I expect more from you.

Just sayin'

by John on Aug 05, 2006 | Observations on things Military
» Blue Star Chronicles links with: Carnival of Blue Stars #16

I can only imagine.

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

Ry - this is why. In a general sense.

August 04, 2006

H&I* Fires 4 Aug 2006

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


Today is my day on the Tanker Brothers Rolling Victory Fast! Click here and join me! -Princess Crabby


News from the Front:





The MSM doesn't cover it much, so I will. And for the one emailer who said I'm just a propaganda shill... it's not strikingly different from subscribing to the AP feed, or accepting Hezbollah agitprop at face value. This is just letting the other side be heard. Fair and balanced, right? -the Armorer


Commander Salamander directs us to some Purple Gun Pr0n. We thankee kindly, 'Phibian, but we do note this topic was covered in this space on February 19, 2004... ;^) [goes back to stirring the fire] -the Armorer


Flags of our Sons. Worth the read. -the Armorer


Ah... I found an answer to Owen's question about TOW's he asked in the comments. They're Iranian-made, reverse engineered from the TOW's that Ollie North sent Iran while doing his Arms for Hostages work during the Reagan Administration. The Law of Unintended Consequences at work. I only wish we could usefully retroactively fire everybody for decisions made in the here and now, legal or illegale, that didn't work out in the then and there.

Oliver North eventually brokered the sale to the desparate Iranians of at least 1,000 TOW missiles, along with other military supplies, at dramatically inflated prices. The Iranians were able to use these advanced anti-armor missiles to largely negate the Iraqi advantage in armor, though the Iraqis continued to inflict terrible losses using chemical weapons.

You can read the rest of that bit here, by J. C. Wilmore, who blogs at the Richmond Democrat.


So, I guess now we're supposed to don sack cloth and ashes. Sorry, dude. Shoot, we found M36 Jackson tank destroyers in the Balkans. I suppose we have to lay the blame for that squarely at the feet of Roosevelt and Truman. Oh, no. Of course not. We have to blame Eisenhower! The world is a harsh place, not much improved by the efforts of either side of the political spectrum. Besides, you know I pick on everybody, because they're all stupid. I guess you'll have to hope Ry rises to the bait... ;^) It's easy to snipe and nip at coat-tails Owen, especially after the fact. Historians make a living at it... I know I do. -the Armorer


By the way, TOWs aren't the only sophisticated AT missiles that Hezbollah has. They've got Russian AT-7 Metis-M and French Milan missiles, too. Just sayin'. -the Armorer.


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Aug 04, 2006 | General Commentary
» Noblesse Oblige links with: Support Israel: Ten Ways to Help

Coast Guard Day!

*(for the story behind the artwork - hit the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry)

To the Men and Women of the Coast Guard:

Today marks the 216th Birthday of our Coast Guard. This anniversary offers us a moment to celebrate our rich history, reflect on our past and focus on our future. The Coast Guard’s unique legacy as America’s lifesaver and maritime guardian evolved from the selfless courage and unflinching determination of our predecessors. It is in their honor that we celebrate today. In 1790, Congress authorized secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton to build a fleet of ten cutters to secure our freedom and protect our coast. For the next eight years, the Revenue Marine was the nation’s only naval force. Over time, it evolved and acquired new responsibilities to meet the growing needs of a democracy in the early years of a new nation.

The world has changed dramatically since 1790 and continues to change with every day. The global war on terrorism, the Maritime Transportation Security Act, The Homeland Security Act, the National Strategy for Homeland Security, and the National Strategy for Maritime Security have given the Coast Guard additional areas of mission emphasis. Meeting those new maritime security demands, while sustaining the trust and confidence of the public we serve in preserving our maritime safety and exercising our maritime stewardship duties, requires us to continually challenge ourselves and improve the way we do business. By focusing on superior mission execution in all that we do, our active duty, reserve, civilian and auxiliary men and women are meeting these challenges head on, often times in unique and innovative ways. I am proud of these tremendous efforts and your hard work.

With the arrival of our 217th year of continuous service, we can look forward to the promise of more opportunities to serve America, and even more challenges. I reaffirm my commitment to each of you on this special day to ensure that our Coast Guard men and women are the most versatile workforce in government, equipped with the most capable fleet of ships, aircraft and boats, along with the most effective systems that will support them. We have an extraordinary legacy of excellence as America’s Coast Guard. We will build on that legacy. We will rise to meet the challenges facing us. And we will remain always ready.

Happy Birthday and Semper Paratus!

Admiral Thad Allen

What he said!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

More news from the Front.


An Iraqi Soldier raises the national flag during a pass and review ceremony held yesterday at Camp Taji. The Iraqi Army's 6th Motor Transport Regiment conducted a transfer of authority ceremony that released control by the 4th Sustainment Brigade.
Story and photo by Sgt. Trevor Snyder 124th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

BAGHDAD -- The Iraqi Army 6th Motor Transport Regiment took control of its own operations in a ceremony July 3 at Camp Taji, a sprawling joint Iraqi-Coalition facility just a few miles north of Baghdad.

The regiment has been working closely with the 4th Sustainment Brigade since October 2005. The transfer of authority is another milestone in Iraqi progress towards providing its own security. The 6th Motor Transport Regiment’s mission is to transport Iraqi Armed Forces members and cargo throughout Iraq as directed by the Ministry of Defense.

“It’s a completely Iraqi show,” said Lt. Col. William Schiek, commander of the 4th Brigade Support Battalion. “It’s been a real pleasure working with them because not only do we share ideas with them, they are sharing ideas with us.”

“Who is better at working in the local area than the folks that grew up in this area,” Schiek said.

The 6th Motor Transport Regiment consists of seven companies including a headquarters company, four light transportation companies, a security company and a support company. Their equipment consists of more than 100 trucks.

Recent areas of operations have included Baghdad, Mosul, Kirkuk, Fallujah and Ramadi.

“We’ve built some friendships here,” responded Maj. Roger Glenn, a force protection officer who works with the 6th Motorized Truck Regiment. “(The Coalition’s) role has really switched from being warfighters with them when we first arrived here. Now they are conducting all of that mission on their own.”

“It’s nice to see them receive some credit and recognition.”

Large Mosaic of the Rodgers.

BAM Cuitlahuac/USS John Rodgers (DD574) 27 July, 2006 Lazaro Cardenas Navy Base, Mexico

For you destroyer fans out there, here's a mosaic I made of the Rodgers at dockside. It's not perfect, I know. Sue me. I'm not paid to be a photographer...

If you snatch it for a website, link and credit, please.

Just "right click and save as" the links below.



Bringing the Rodgers Home, con't.

When Ward dived to check her hull, I reported that he found her in very good shape. Her anodes were present, there was sufficient depth under her keel for them to function properly, and there was little to no corrosion - and what corrosion pitting there was along the hull was at her waterline from the 20-odd years she spent in mothballs with the US Navy before being given to the Mexican Navy in 1972. She had some barnacle growth on her rudders and screws, and the odd patch here and there - which the Mexican diver said resulted from worn paint for the rudder, and improperly mixed paint for the hull. I have no earthly idea. Sounds good to me.

That said, the Cuitlahuac has been berthed in storage-pending-disposition for nigh unto 5 years now. If you looked at the satellite picture, you'd have noted that in that pic she was outboard of the Gearing she sits next to, but when we arrived, she was inboard. Good for us, we didn't have to cross-deck the Quetzalcoatl every time we needed to move things around - but it means she's been moved. And, as we discovered, not always gently - whether as a result of weather or the tugs moving things around.

On the second day, wandering around taking pictures I saw this ding on her port side, forward, just under the bollards. The upper scrape in the picture is just below deck level. The hole is pretty high. But - it's still a hole, and we were concerned about the condition of the nearby hull frame.

Hull rupture on the USS John Rodgers

So, we changed our work schedule a bit and went destroyer-spelunking in her forward spaces. The hole is in a storage locker just ahead of the CPOs Mess. Nice long gash, about a foot and a half, but the frame was fine. Nothing a sledgehammer, welding rod, and a patch won't handle nicely.

USS John Rodgers hull rupture from the inside

Disappointing, sure - but we're going to repaint her and have to do far more work to fully get her back to her WWII configuration. This is a relatively quick and easy fix. The shape of the dent and rupture served to keep rainwater from entering, as well, so we didn't even have a standing water corrosion problem in the locker. Yellow card foul, not a Red!

3 Things meme, continued.

If the following makes no sense to you - look over in the left sidebar for the "Search This Site" box (right below the Raging RINO's logo) and type in "Carborundum". Start at the bottom, read up.

BCR, when responding to the 3 Things meme, tagged Carborundum, Bill's Guardian Angel.

He's slow to respond, but he did. His answers are in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.
Heh. Carborundum tagged Ghengis Khan, Prester John, and Effluvius. I'd like to hear *their* responses, too!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

August 03, 2006

H&I* Fires 3 Aug 2006

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


As of initial posting of H&I, it appears my photo-hosting service is down. I'm aware of it, and they're working on it! -the Armorer

Marine Cpl. Timothy Roos was killed in Iraq last week, leaving behind a wife and a two week old baby girl. Yes- two weeks old. She'll never know the tender hold of her father. His funeral is taking place today in Cincinnati- at the same time as a fundraiser for Republican US Representative Steve Chabot, featuring First Lady Laura Bush.

"I decided to postpone it out of respect for the family," Chabot said. "I didn't want our event with the first lady to distract in any way from the tribute to Corporal Roos and his service to our country." Mr. Chabot will be attending the funeral service for Cpl. Roos. Now THAT'S respect. Thank you, Mr. Chabot. ~AFSis


In other news, today marks the one year anniversary of the death of 11 Lima Company Marines. During their seven month tour, the 184-member unit suffered more casualties than any other unit in the GWOT. Lima Company lost 11 on August 3, 2005, but lost a total of 23 during their tour and received 59 Purple Hearts. Five of the 8/3/05 eleven were from Cincinnati.

It is a day to mourn here in Cincinnati. A Marine funeral, and remembering the one year anniversary of the deaths of 5 others. Go read what their families have to say about remember this day, and remembering their sons. Semper Fi, Marines. ~AFSis


Hmmmmm. Might make some nice summer places for Castle Denizens... H/t to the Flea, who thinks I might find being accused of wearing pantaloons something to take umbrage over...

Other Flea Dirt worth a gander... Toys for Boys... and the continuing drive to relegate people like Dusty and Bill to the Dustbin of History. And if the continual drive to remove people from machines in the making of war, thus making *going* to war easier, ask yourself this - are you one of those people whose panties get in a twist because people die in a war? If so, you are a part of the problem of the drive to make war easier. That's a value neutral statement - it may all be heading to a greater good - but it's a subject not subject to enough scrutiny, to my taste. -the Armorer


Dave the Heartless Libertarian is ready to bump up to the next level. Congrats!

An interesting story on asymmetrical warfare from Israeli blogger Yoni, as heard on Hugh Hewitt's show. - Barb


The Big Red One is back home in Kanasas. - FbL.


If you have any personal knowledge (before, during, or after) regarding SGT Rafael Peralta, the History Channel would like to talk to you for a documentary they are putting together. More info from Don at the Danz Family blog.

Oh, and Fuzzy - if yer gonna be one, be a Big Red One! -the Armorer



Schmuck. -Instapilot


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Aug 03, 2006 | General Commentary
» MY Vast Right Wing Conspiracy links with: 2996 - Tribute to 9/11 Victims
» The Thunder Run links with: When is the Right Time to Fight This War?

Civil War in Iraq.

Frankly, it took one for us to mostly settle our internal inconsistencies. And another hundred years after that to get key things started by the war finished... and we still have reverberations. Perhaps the Iraqis have to do that as well. To expect it to all be better in a few years, given their history, is to ignore the western experience, whether in Europe or North and South America. I suspect it's going to be just as hard for the Iraqis to settle theirs - for many of the same reasons it was hard for us. Just as soon we didn't find ourselves in the middle of it, however.

"Shiite and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other," Pace said, before the tensions can be overcome. "The weight of that must be on the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government."

You can read the rest of the Generals thoughts as reported by the AP, here.

A Castle Scout Reports In

From Blake Kirk, retired soldier now a civil servant, working in Iraq to help redeploy people and things back to the US.

KS-19 Right Side View

I've been over here for two months now, helping a bunch of different units in this part of Iraq get ready to redeploy back to their home stations when their tours are up. I've not written much, mostly because most of the stuff I had to write about had more to do with what units were moving, where, and when. Not exactly the sort of stuff we need to have published as open-source info on the Internet. And you really DON'T want to hear my opinions about the software package we're now using to manage unit deployments...

Now, however, because it turns out I'm the only transporter in the area who knows ANYTHING about either Russian ordnance OR WW2-era US armored vehicles, I've had an additional mission handed to me, which permits me to send you gun pron.

They've really tightened the rules about bringing home captured equipment. Mostly, units are now limited to stuff that isn't of any real use to the new Iraqi military. And that's probably as it should be.

The 101st Historical Section has requested, (with the CG's endorsement,) to return to the US a Russian-built KS-19 100mm antiaircraft gun, along with two US-built M36-series tank destroyers: an M36B1, and an M36B2. I get the dubious privilege of preparing these things for movement. So far I've managed to determine that the turret-traversing mechanism on the M36B1 is frozen. The gun is aimed a bit more than 90 degrees right at the moment, so we're going to have to do something about that in order to move the piece. That will probably involve removing the traversing gearbox from the turret wall. WD-40 is my friend in this instance, and someone who realizes this has laid in a large stock of The Mechanic's Sacred Fluid, for which he, she or it has my undying gratitude.

I've got a few pictures of the KS-19. Pictures of the M36's later.

The KS-19's an interesting piece, similar in many ways to a German 88mm FLAK 37 mount, but not really a copy of the German design. I'd originally thought it was a Chinese Type 59 (the PLA's copy of the KS-19,) but this one has lettering in Cyrillic, not Chinese ideographs. The optics and electrical components are missing or in sad shape, but the gun can still be elevated and trained manually with very little effort. We're planning on moving it to a transportation staging yard in a few days, which is why I have photos of it in the travel configuration. We'll haul it south out of here on a flatbed, so it really doesn't matter if one of the tie rods on the front wheels is badly bent.

More as I get something interesting to say.

KS-19 Breech

Two more pics. Here (left side view) and here (fuze setter).

Looking forward to it, Blake!

by John on Aug 03, 2006 | Artillery

The 'Three Things" meme...

...infected this space while I was gone. I don't see why I shouldn't subject you to it just because I was off in sunny Mexico...

But I'll put it below the fold, so you'll only suffer if you want to.

It's in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

August 02, 2006

H&I* Fires 2 Aug 2006

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


NetBrad has a suggestion for the Castle Arsenal:

Think about it, mount it on a vehicle and and put a camera in the nose...

Whatcha think - should we get this?

Next, 1SG Keith's interest in Public Affairs comes into focus (know what I mean, nudge-nudge wink-wink)...

Rachelle Leah with the Ultimate Fighting Championship fires an M9 Beretta pistol at the

Rachelle Leah with the Ultimate Fighting Championship fires an M9 Beretta pistol at the "Shotgun" range on Contingency Operating Base Speicher. Photos by Spc. Michael Pfaff, 133rd MPAD

Heh. For some reason *this* caption did just fine...

Today in history... Hannibal spanks the Romans at Cannae:

Surrounded and attacked on all sides with no means of escape, the Roman army was subsequently cut to pieces. An estimated 60,000–70,000 Romans were killed or captured at Cannae (including the consul Lucius Aemilius Paullus and eighty Roman senators). In terms of the number of lives lost within a single day, Cannae is among the costliest battles in all of recorded human history.

Read the rest here, at Wikipedia.

And just *when* will we hear from Carborundum on his tagging, eh?

I'm off to work. Have a day, f-f-f-folks! -the Armorer


Confederate Yankee - Muckraker ;^) and possibly mover of the news... Confederate Yankee in the attack...

...and speaking of that Walleye up above - this would have made a great Throne of Argghhh! Aluminum Overcast, baby! I actually saw one in flight, as a wee tyke. One of my first memories. -the Armorer


I've always liked llamas. Now I see they soldier, too. If we ever have the space, we'll add a llama or two to the herd. That and a goat. SWWBO likes those critters.

Israeli special forces and their llamas wait to cross the Israel-Lebanon border west of Avivim, late night August 1, 2006.REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (ISRAEL)

Israeli special forces and their llamas wait to cross the Israel-Lebanon border west of Avivim, late night August 1, 2006.REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (ISRAEL)


The Haditha news doesn't get better. Let the chips fall where they may. -the Armorer


On Iraq - 16 years ago today, some of the seeds of our present discontent, sown many times over the millenia, were watered.

The pain of the war climbs a little higher. Corporal Phillip E. Baucus, USMC, died in Iraq last week. What makes his death more notable than others? His uncle. Senator Max Baucus, of Montana. -the Armorer


Rich Lowry takes up the discussion that occured in this space in the War of the Tribes post.

It is for Qanas that Hezbollah conducts its operations among civilians in the first place. It hopes that Israeli attacks will cause civilian casualties so that the Jewish state’s offensive will be delegitimized. It thus depends on a perverse logic whereby a civilized military force attempting to avoid civilian casualties at the cost of the effectiveness of its own operations is considered barbaric and is pressured to end its campaign — and the world perversely reasons right along with it.

This is one of the greatest asymmetries of asymmetric warfare. For a guerrilla force, worse is always better, even though the worse comes at its instigation. It seeks a widening gyre of death and destruction. “Promoting disorder is a legitimate objective for the insurgent,” David Galula writes in his classic study of insurgency warfare. “Moreover, disorder — the normal state of nature — is cheap to create and very costly to prevent.”

Read the rest here. -the Armorer


Murtha Sued: it's about time [h/t Old War Dogs]. - FbL


Snerk! How much trouble would a right-winger get into for using "Blackface" this way? -the Armorer


This should provide plenty of fodder for discussion 'round here... *looking around innocently* [h/t Cassandra - FbL


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Aug 02, 2006 | General Commentary

Lisa Vincent...

...the widow of murdered-by-Islamofacist-thugs journalist Stephen Vincent, has her own take on how the war against Islamofacism should progress:

Same War [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Lisa Vincent sends the IDF pizza

To honor and remember my beloved husband Steven Vincent, the freelance journalist kidnapped and murdered by Islamic fundamentalist thugs in Basra, Iraq on August 2, 2005, I send these pizzas as a tribute to your bravery, courage and dedication to the fight to rid the world of such monsters.

Steven adored pizza, and would have completely approved of the IDF response to Hezbollah's evil, so I thought this was the perfect tribute to both him and you. God bless you all, and may He keep you safe...

From Kesher Talk, via The Corner.

Corporal Robert J. Mitchell, Jr

...someone you should know, but won't read about in the NYT - at least not in the parts of the paper people actually read.*

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (July 28, 2006) -- His desert utilities shredded by shrapnel and streaked with his own blood and that of his fellow Marines, Cpl. Robert J. Mitchell Jr. limped out of the cement block house in downtown Fallujah, Iraq, and into the annals of Marine Corps history.

The day was Nov. 13, 2004, and according to the Marine Corps’ official account of the fierce, close quarters battle, Mitchell ignored his own wounds and repeatedly braved enemy fire to administer first aid to and evacuate other Marines wounded in the fight.

Nearly two years after that fateful day, in a solemn ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Mitchell received the Navy Cross from Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the I Marine Expeditionary Force. The Navy Cross is the nation’s second-highest award for battlefield heroism.

“This is a truly special occasion,” said Sattler, addressing the assembled Marines and guests after presenting the award. “Valor comes in a scale, and all the Marines, Sailors, and veterans here today know how rare of an occasion this is.”

As a cool, dry wind snapped the flags around the parade deck, Mitchell choked back tears as he thanked God, his family, and his fellow Marines for their support and attending the ceremony.

Mitchell joined the Marine Corps in early 2001, and was on his second tour in Iraq with the 1st Marine Division when Coalition forces launched a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive to reclaim Fallujah from insurgents who had fortified the city.

Dubbed Operation Al Fajr (aka Phantom Fury), the assault on Fallujah kicked off on Nov. 8, 2004, and quickly turned into a bloody, street-by-street contest with then-Corporal Mitchell and his fellow Marines in Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, in the thick of the fighting.

Day by day, Mitchell and his squad pushed through the city, methodically clearing pockets of enemy resistance as they progressed. During an assault against an insurgent strong point on Nov. 12, Mitchell was shot through the right tricep, but ignored the wound to help destroy the fortified position, and later refused medical evacuation to remain with his squad.

The next day, an assault against a squat, cement house had gone horribly wrong and several wounded Marines lay trapped inside with several well-fortified insurgents waiting in ambush positions. Mitchell’s squad got the call to come and assist.

“When the call came, we knew we had to get them out,” said Mitchell. “That became the mission – the only mission.”

Once on the scene, the Iowa native quickly established a casualty collection point and organized his men to assault the building. Then-1st Sgt. Bradley A. Kasal, the senior enlisted Marine from another company, joined Mitchell’s squad, and together, they charged the building and took up firing positions.

The first floor of the house was littered with dead or dying insurgents, and the wounded Marines lay further inside. Other enemy fighters were in fortified positions on the roof looking down through a skylight, creating a kill zone between Mitchell and the wounded Marines.

Covered by suppressive fire, Mitchell raced through the kill zone toward the wounded Marines as the rooftop insurgents showered the room below with rifle fire and grenades. Shrapnel from one of the grenades peppered the back of Mitchell’s legs, but he made it to the stranded, wounded Marines.

“It was great to see him come in,” said Cpl. Jose Sanchez, an infantryman from Houston, Texas. “Until he got there I was switching between treating Carlisle [Lance Cpl. Cory] and providing security. When Corporal Mitchell came in, he took over the medical treatment and I could focus on firing at the insurgents.”

A trained combat lifesaver, Mitchell went to work on Carlisle’s bullet-mangled leg. With his medical supplies running out, he once again orchestrated suppression of the insurgents on the roof to allow a corpsman and another Marine to sprint through the kill zone.

By this time, both Kasal and another Marine, Pvt. 1st Class Alex Nicoll, had been seriously wounded by rifle fire and grenades, and were holed up inside a small room across the kill zone Mitchell had crossed only moments before.

Leaving the wounded Marines in the care of the corpsman, Mitchell once again braved the kill zone, and like before, the insurgents sprayed the short, treacherous path with bullets and grenades. One bullet smashed into Mitchell’s M-16A4 assault rifle, shattering the weapon before ricocheting down and into his right leg. More shrapnel slashed Mitchell’s legs and face, yet he remained on his feet and made it to Kasal and Nicoll, who was Mitchell’s former roommate and longtime friend.

Blooding profusely but apparently unmindful of his wounds, Mitchell began treating the others, applying bandages and direct pressure in an attempt to staunch the wounded Marines’ blood loss. In the midst of his life-saving efforts, Mitchell scanned the room and saw a wounded insurgent, shot earlier by Kasal, make a move for a weapon laying nearby.

Mitchell quickly drew his combat knife and lunged forward, driving the weapon into the insurgent, eliminating the threat for good before turning his attention back to Kasal and Nicoll. With Marines scattered throughout the small house and the insurgents still firmly entrenched on the roof and a nearby stairwell denying access to any additional forces, the situation was quickly deteriorating.

Through a small, barred window in the room, Mitchell explained to Marines outside the layout of the house and where Marines were located throughout the structure. With this information, the Marines were able to suppress the insurgents on the roof via firing positions on adjacent structures, and one-by-one, extract the wounded Marines from the building which has since been dubbed the “House of Hell.”

The photograph of a bloody Kasal, now a sergeant major and himself a Navy Cross recipient, being helped from the house by two Marines is one of the more resonant images of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Despite his own severe wounds, Mitchell was among the last to leave the house, and did so assisting another wounded Marine. Demolition charges were quickly flung into the house, and the resulting explosion caused the building to collapse, killing the diehard insurgents.

While other casualties from the short, yet intense, fight were loaded onto vehicles and driven to a nearby aid station, Mitchell gathered the remnants of his squad and led them back to the Kilo Company headquarters where he finally received treatment for his wounds.

Less than two weeks later, Mitchell was on his way home from Iraq. Though non-debilitating, his injuries suffered during Operation Al Fajr, combined with those from a mortar attack in July, were enough to convince the Marines the time had come to order Mitchell to leave the combat zone. In a November 2004 interview with a Marine combat correspondent, Mitchell voiced his concerns about being ordered to leave Iraq, but was resigned to his fate.

"Being told by my [commanding officer], sergeant major, platoon commander and all my buddies that I have done enough – that helps to ease my thoughts," said Mitchell. "It is supportive, but at the same time, I came out here to lead a squad and finish the job."

Mitchell, who left the Marine Corps as a sergeant in March 2005, traveled to Camp Pendleton to receive the award with his wife, Sara, and seven-month-old son, Robert III, from their current home in Phoenix where Mitchell works as a motorcycle mechanic. Other family members and friends, including Nicoll, made the trip as well.

“Mitchell’s a Marine’s Marine, and I always looked to him as a role model” said Sanchez, who earned a Bronze Star Medal for valor during the fight for Fallujah. “I’m really happy to see him receive this award.”

The 26-year-old former Marine is unassuming, almost self-effacing, about receiving the Navy Cross.

“It’s very overwhelming, but I don’t think it’s hit me yet,” Mitchell said in an interview after the ceremony, pausing every few minutes to chat with well-wishers and pose for pictures. “It’s an honor – the biggest honor I could ever fathom.”

Mitchell is the eleventh Marine to earn the Navy Cross for battlefield service in Iraq. Another Marine received the coveted award earlier this year for heroism in Afghanistan.

*Of course now that means he should be back by the Crossword...

Official Photographs, incorrect captions thereon, case #4,578,331

Heh. Seems we're still having caption problems with those people who caption official photos (or the photogs who provide the info, to be fair.) This time, however, it caught someone up known to deployed Castle Denizen Blake Kirk, who tells us in his comment to the news post below:

We're having problems with semi-competent captioners over here again.

Actually, MAJ Bailey works in the 101st Abn Div G4, where I am currently hanging my hat. Her desk is about 15 feet where I'm sitting as I type this, and the "misrepresentation" of her unit in the official caption on the picture has been a source of some amusement in our workspace for the past couple of days. She's a nice lady, and is pretty durned good at what she does, which being the division-level aviation maintenance staff officer.

And in defense of the caption writier, the civil action mission on which MAJ Bailey was photographed WAS organized and led by the 402nd CA.

Fixed. You can tell Major Bailey that on at least one site on the Internet, she gets proper credit.

And now, sinces she's a known entity to us, we'll add her to the Guardian Angel list.

I can hear Carborundum now..."Oh no! NOT ANOTHER AVIATOR!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!"

August 01, 2006

H&I* Fires 1 August 2006

Open post for those with something to share, updated through the day. New, complete posts come in below this one. Note: If trackbacking, please acknowledge this post in your post. That's only polite. You're advertising here, we should get an ad at your place...
Man.... The Armorer *must* be tired. It's nearly 2pm EST, and there's nothing new up today!

I'll start you off with some linky-love. Sage reminds us all of a tragic anniversary remembered today at the University of Texas. ~AFSis

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Aug 01, 2006 | General Commentary

Huh. The world didn't stop while I was gone.

Worse, it doesn't seem to have noticed I wasn't there.

Maj. Jennifer Bailey, from the 101st Abv Div G4 shop, where she works as the Division-Level Aviation Maintenance Officer is seen here on a Civil Action Missino organizes by the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion.  Major Bailey reads a children’s book to Iraqi girls during a humanitarian mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika.

Maj. Jennifer Bailey, from the 101st Abv Div G4 shop, where she works as the Division-Level Aviation Maintenance Officer is seen here on a Civil Action Missino organizes by the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion. Major Bailey reads a children’s book to Iraqi girls during a humanitarian mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Klika.

In more News You Won't See in the MSM:





Just click the titles to go to the stories. I've got to get back on my head - but I thought you'd like the pic!

It's swimming against the bad news the MSM does report - but since they report that and very little of the rest... I'll take that niche.

July 31, 2006

I'm back home.


That was fun. Exhausting, but fun.

Home is the sailor, home from sea:
Her far-borne canvas furled
The ship pours shining on the quay
The plunder of the world.

Home is the hunter from the hill:
Fast in the boundless snare
All flesh lies taken at his will
And every fowl of air.

'Tis evening on the moorland free,
The starlit wave is still:
Home is the sailor from the sea,
The hunter from the hill.

Truly, her last full crew. If things work out, next time we take a picture like this it will be in Mobile Bay, and include survivors of her WWII & Mexican crews, with the Rodgers all spiffed up in her new duds!

Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

End of the road, Trip 1, Bringing the Rodgers Home

We're packing now to head to the airport and home. It will be a long day, as I'm routed via Charlotte...

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I've shown you the condition of the Cuitlahuac/Rodgers, which was really pretty good. Just to make that point clear... here are some shots, without the flash, that give you a better sense of what we were working through in the bowels of the other destroyer - the ex-USS Voegelgesang - when we were taking usable parts for the Rodgers or trading purposes.

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The heartbreaker, for me, is that this beautiful instrument is going to go to the bottom of the ocean. Sigh. I wish we'd had the tools to at least get one section of her for display.

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Hosting provided by FotoTime

But it's not all bad - I got to get my twin 40's working... mechanically - no firing locks, no ammo. The Mexicans knew better. Who talked?

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I scrounged the missing seats, found most of the missing cranks, replaced all but two of the missing spiders - and made sure they could all train and elevate, breeches worked, etc. They are, of course, not shootable, but other than that... I'm happy.

by John on Jul 31, 2006 | DD 574 USS John Rodgers/BAM Cúitlahuac
» Confederate Yankee links with: Ultimate Gun Blogger
» CDR Salamander links with: Post-retirement interservice transfer

H&I* Fires 31 July 2006

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


This is an Armorer-approved bleg on behalf of Soldier's Angels in Texas. Bonnie Averett is the Director of Wounded Care in Texas. Last week her assistant, Brenda, sent a global email out the the Angels, asking for donations for a specific wounded soldier, Chad. "He was severely wounded in an IED attack and is facing a long recovery at a hospital in Texas. His mother and wife are looking to relocate to Texas to be by his side during this difficult time. Funding at Soldier's Angels isn't sufficient enough at this time to supplement their move, so I'm asking for your help."

Due to confidentiality, she did not go into details regarding his injuries, but it would appear that they are very severe. Having his mother and wife by his side will be critical to his recovery. I know we can make this happen for Chad!!

Since this is a special project, Soldier’s Angels is asking that you write "Chad R" in the memo section of your check, and mail it to:

Soldier’s Angels
1150 N. Loop 1604 W.
San Antonio, TX 78248

If you'd rather use Paypal, that's ok too.... but you'll have to send a copy of your confirm to Bonnie or her assistant Brenda so that they can snag the donation out of the general fund and put it to use for Chad's family.

Any and all donations, of any size, are greatly appreciated. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. ~AFSis


After reading SSG. David Bellavia's Medal of Honor nomination... 1SG Keith was reminded of the valour shown by another MOH recipient, US Army Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez. Then the 1SG asks what makes Medal of Honor recipients like MSGT Benavidez step up to the plate and perform these acts of courage.
I don't know, 1SG, but I'm guessing they started out with "I'll be DAMNED if I let these asshats take me out today... it is NOT a good day to die." ~AFSis

Funniest thing I've heard all day... "I didn't realize that 'tar baby' was a racial epitath" Ohhh... my. He just threw the Black Caucus vote out window (or should I say, threw the tar baby out with the bath water?) Wotta maroon. ~AFSis


Wonder what Denizen Sgt. B has been up to? - FbL


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jul 31, 2006 | General Commentary
» Mitchell Lewis links with: 3/4 Cav Reunion and Memorial Service

July 30, 2006

H&I* Fires 30 July 2006

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

Boy-o-boy! It looks like the Birthday Boy had lots of fun playing in the Beaner "Battleship" (Hey - I can say "Beaner" without compunction; I'm the only Denizen that speaks like the Nasonex Bee).

Anyways, he looked so happy in every single picture that Rob Harshbarger took. I just wonder: What was its crew thinking during THIS picture. CAPTION CONTEST ANYONE? – BOQ


Details of disturbing things that seem to be developing in Somalia. [h/t MVRWC] - FbL


Hmm... the "Castle Denizens" blogroll doesn't seem to be updating to show I posted last night at my place, thus greatly reducing my enjoyment of a recent gloat opportunity. - FbL


Flash Traffic (extended entry) Follows... »

by Denizens on Jul 30, 2006 | General Commentary

Bringing the Rodgers Home

Yesterday was spent dismounting what we would out of the Gearing. We also negotiated with the guy scrapping the old minesweeper - if take off the watertights from the Gearing (doing the Mexican gov't a favor, since they have to be removed anyway before they sink her as a reef) he'll trade us for the WWII watertight doors we need for the Rodgers (she's missing a few) and however many extras we can load on her to bring back as trading materials.

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Ward dived her hull with the Chief Instructor of the Mexican Dive School here. A little knot of a man with 25,000 hours in the water. Ward has 1400 hours, and is a decent diver - but he was as a babe next to this man. Her hull is in excellent shape, from bow, to strakes, to sea chests, to screws, to the rudder. We're very pleased!

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We spent a lot of time in dark, close, unlit spaces, avoiding the ones with exposed asbestos, and swimming in PCB-laden rainwater...

Regretfully, there's a very nice lathe in the hangar on the Voegelgesang we're going to have to leave behind.

To make up for that - we're going to bring home one of the Voegelgesang's gyros. We'll not manage the whole housing - but we will get the gyro itself (enough of a load to carry up the ladder, believe me!).

We got tired enough that yesterday, trying to remove bolts so we could remove a large indicator gizmo from the CIC, I handed off a wrench to Ward to finish removing this bolt... and watched him promptly start to tighten it.

I tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Um, dude - if you don't mind terribly, we'd like to re-move, not re-tighten this bolt we just spent 20 minutes on..."

Since I'm at the point of muscle failure from schlepping myself and my 100 pound bellypack up and down ladders, my major activity for the day will be taking off the broken sights on the 40's and swapping them with intact sights from the 40's that were removed recently from the Voegelgesang, so that all my 40mm's will have complete spider sights with the little optical portion that's missing from almost *all* the 40mm's you see in displays. After that - I will try to get a few of the gear racks from the Fire Control Computer.

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The other thing we have to do is go through the Rodgers and mark and secure all of her spaces, marking them as dry and secured (this is for the tow crew's benefit, and saves us a little money).

So, I get to play with computers and guns all day while the youngsters will be schlepping the doors around an crawling all through the Rodgers.

Then it's home - and fight the last minute battles in the War of the Bureaucrats and then Sweating the Tow.