Respect....

.... I have had a subscription to Military History Magazine for the past ten years..... and while I always enjoy every issue, a recent issue had a small article entitled "Hallowed Ground" that brought me nearly to tears....... and it also gave me an experience that is firmly on my bucket list of things to see before I shuffle off this mortal coil......

..... if you have never had the pleasure of Military History Magazine, you are missing you....... here is the article by David Zubecki.....

Every day at 7:55pm police in the small Belgian city of Ypres stop traffic on the Menin Road, one of the main thoroughfares into the ancient town. At exactly 8 o'clock a team of buglers from the Ypres volunteer fire brigade, in full dress uniform, march to the center of the road beneath the Menin Gate and start blowing the "Last Post," the British bugle call equivalent for American "Taps." Then, after a minute of silence, they follow up with the "Rouse," a call similar to "Reveille" that here symbolizes resurrection. The buglers have conducted this moving ceremony every day in Ypres - with the brief hiatus during the 1940-44 German occupation - for the past 85 years.

The Flemish town of Ypres - 65 miles due west of Brussels - is to the British what Verdun is to the French, or Gettysburg to the Americans. This strategic point in the British line was among the most contested ground in World War I. Between 1914 and 1918 the Allies and Germany fought five Battles of Ypres. The horrific third battle is better known as Passchendaele, named for a small village on a small rise of ground (euphemistically called a "ridge") about seven miles northeast of Ypres. For more than three months in 1917 the opposing armies thrust thousands of troops into a meat-grinder battle across a hellish lunar landscape. Total Allied and German casualties from the Ypres battles exceeded 800,000 - perhaps half of those at Passchendaele alone.

In 1914 Ypres was a beautiful medieval walled town. By the time World War I had ended, nothing higher than a pile of rubble remained standing. A man on horseback at one edge of town could see clear across to the far side with little in between to obstruct his field of vision. The place is such an emotional center of gravity for the British that they largely rebuilt and restored the town, including its magnificent medieval Cloth Hall, which today houses one of Europe's finest World War I museums.

In place of the original gate at the Menin Road entrance through the city ramparts the British Commonwealth War Graves Commission erected the marble and brick Menin Gate memorial, dedicated in 1927. Atop the gate a marble lion in repose gazes east toward the old battlefields of the Ypres Salient. Engraved on the marble surfaces of the monument are the names of 54,896 Commonwealth war dead with no known graves from the Ypres battles before Aug. 15, 1917. Officials chose that arbitrary cutoff date because there was no more space for inscription on the gate. The names of the 34,959 soldiers who went missing after that date are inscribed on the walls enclosing the Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Passchendaele itself. Tyne Cot also holds 11,954 actual burials.

The fire brigade conducted its first Last Post Ceremony at Ypres on July 2, 1928. During the years of the German occupation, buglers held the ceremony at Brookwood Military Cemetery southwest of London. They resumed Last Post in Ypres on Sept. 6, 1944, the very day Polish forces under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery's 21st Army Group entered the city, even though fighting was still in progress.

Many of the buglers who perform the ceremony have been doing it for years. Some wear the Member of the Order of the British Empire medal on their uniforms, granted in recognition for their long service. The ceremony can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the crowd and the number of visiting delegations. On those few occasions when the weather is extremely bad and the crowd is small, the ceremony ends when the buglers finish. More often, however, the commemoration continues with various military, veterans' and private groups laying wreaths at the memorial. On some occasions visiting military bands play after the wreath layings, and military groups in uniform render formal honors. At the conclusion of the extended ceremony, a member of the Last Post Association or a visiting dignitary reads the first three lines from the exhortation, taken from Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen":

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning

To which members of the crowd respond in unison with the fourth line of the stanza:

We will remember them.

..... I have to see such an amazingly touching and honorable sight with my own eyes before I die.......

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Confused.....

... a few days ago I was watching a documentary on the Military Channel and something happened that I still am having trouble getting to grips with..... the documentary was regarding the terrorist attacks in India and it focused on the excellent work that their elite special forces, the Black Cats, carried out...

... as part of the interviews during the documentary, an English business man who had been a guest in one of the hotels under siege said, "When I heard the shooting and knew that the terrorists were in the hotel going room to room, my very first thought - and all I could think about - is how much it is going to hurt when I get shot.... I was terrified at the thought." ..... I cannot imagine that mindset..... even now, days after the fact, I am still trying to process that man's thoughts.....

... the reason that I am so confused is that my initial reaction to his statement was so completely different..... as soon as his words escaped the speakers on my television, I was appalled...... I thought to myself, why would you just wait to die?.... I tried to imagine myself in his situation, and it became very real to me...... the disturbing part to me is that I thought, "there are terrorists going room to room killing people.... how do I use surprise and whatever is in my room to take away his weapon and kill him?" .......

.. I am still trying to figure out why my reaction was so different..... is there something innately more aggressive about my personality?.... do I have a greater will to live?..... is it because of my training in the military that I have this mindset, or was the mindset in place before I joined the Corps?..... did my parents raise me to be more independent and proactive?..... have I seen too many James Bond, John Wayne, and Superhero movies?..... is the psychology of Americanism such that will not roll over and play dead?...... am I some sort of archaic monster with too much ego, an overinflated sense of self-confidence, and an overload of testosterone?........

... I don't know the answer, but the question continues to fill me with a sense of uncertainty....

.... what would you do?..... would you grab a lamp and go down swinging?.... or would you huddle in the bathroom waiting patiently in horror to be shot?.....

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Adak....

.... behold the view of the beach from my very first duty station as a newly minted Marine...... needless to say, there were not many bikinis being sold at the base PX....

zeto_small.jpg

.... on the upside, mosquitoes were not really a problem........

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Motivating.....

.... a traditional march-on to "Hearts of Oak"....... I know that this is making the rounds, but personally I thought it was the most motivating thing that I had seen in years...... especially the two fellows that whip the limber over the wall......

.... I swear, I'd say most of the folks involved had many, MANY bumps and bruises by the time this event was over...... just watch how the guys swipe that 900lb barrel off the wall and into the gun-carriage like it was made of aluminium.......

.... and how awesome to have cruisers called HMS Powerful and HMS Terrible....

.... a tip of the SWG vintage Trilby to The Pirate for this one....

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Darkness....

.... from Robert Leckie's book....."Helmet for My Pillow"..... upon spending his first night in the jungles of Guadalcanal......

It was darkness without time. It was an impenetrable darkness. To the right and left of me rose up those terrible formless things of my imagination, which I could not see because there was no light. I could not see, but I dared not close my eyes lest the darkness crawl beneath my eyelids and suffocate me. I could only hear. My ears became my being and I could hear the specks of life that crawled beneath my clothing, the rotting of the great tree which rose from its three-cornered trunk above me. I could hear the darkness gathering against me and the silence that lay between the moving things.

I could hear the enemy everywhere about me, whispering to each other and calling my name. I lay open-mouthed and half-mad beneath that giant tree. I had not looked into its foliage before the darkness and now I fancied it infested with Japanese. Everything and all the world became my enemyu, and soon myu very body betrayed me and became my foe. My leg became a creeping Japanese, and then my other leg. My arms, too, and then my head.

My heart was alone. It was me. I was my heart.

It lay quivering, I lay quivering, in that rotten hole while the darkness gathered and all creation conspired for my heart.

How long? I lay for an eternity. There was no time. Time had disintegrated in that black void. There was only emptiness, and that is Something; there was only being; there was only consciousness.

Like the light that comes up suddenly in the darkened theatre, dalight came quicikly. Dawn came, and so myself came back to myself. I could see the pale outlines of my comrades to right and left, and I marveled to see how tame my tree could be, how unforbidding could be its branches.

I know now why men light fires.

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Memorial.....

Gunner_Henry_L__Hulbert,_USMC_27March1917.png

... if I ever visit Arlington National Cemetery, the first fellow that I will search out will be Henry Lewis Hulbert... I first read of his Medal of Honor citation in an issue of Military History magazine about six months or so ago, and since then his name seems to be popping up in my life with an uncanny regularity..... last week, for instance, his name was mentioned on a Pershing documentary that I was watching...... and yesterday, while researching some information on 1st Battallion, 5th Marines, I noticed his name again.......

.... there are some lives - and some individuals - that just move me on an incredibly deep level..... and if you haven't heard of Mr. Hulbert, then you should take the time to read this..... and read it slowly....... born in England in 1867, in Malaya at 17, the Yukon by his mid-20s, California and enlisting in The Corps at 31, Medal of Honor in the Philippines by 32, twenty more years in The Corps, promoted to "Gunner" at 50 - arguably the first Gunner in USMC history (Gunner was a rank that the Marine Corps had created that was later replaced by Warrant Officers.... Warrant Officers in The Corps are still affectionately called "Gunners" by tradition, even though most Marines probably don't know the history of the term.)..... cited for gallantry at Belleau Wood in May/June of 1918..... and dead at 51 years by a machine gun bullet at Sissions, France, near Mont Blanc in October of 1918......

... courtesy of Maj Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret) who wrote in the Marine Corps Gazette, a fitting read for today's Memorial Day.....

From Exile To Hero

Banished from the Maylay States for an unfortunate affair, Henry Hulbert turned shame and disgrace into fame and honor.

Story by Maj Allan C. Bevilacqua, USMC (Ret)

In the cold, drizzling pre-dawn dark of Oct. 4, 1918, the 5th Marines passed through the ranks of its brothers in the 6th Marines to continue the attack against the key German strong point of Blanc Mont Ridge in the Champagne country of France. It was a gloomy, brooding place, littered with the wreckage of the previous day's fighting, American, French and German dead all intermingled. A tall Texas Marine in Major George Hamilton's 1st Battalion, Lieutenant John W. Thomason, thought it an evil place, made for calamities. Private Elton Mackin, one of Hamilton's battalion runners--the most dangerous job a Marine could have--remembered that the battalion went into action that day at T/O strength of slightly more than 1,000.

The Germans resisted furiously, desperate to prevent the collapse of their entire front. If Blanc Mont Ridge fell, the dominant feature of the entire region would be lost, and the Meuse River crossing would be wide open to the Americans. With Blanc Mont Ridge gone, the bastion of the Hindenburg Line would be irretrievably ruptured. The shell-ravaged white chalk slopes of the ridge became the scene of some of the most savage fighting of the war. For more than a week Marines fought with rifles, bayonets, hand grenades, knives and bare fists, prying tenacious German infantry from a maze of trenches and bunkers with names like the Essen Trench, the Kriemhilde Stellung and the Essen Hook.

When it was finally over, when all objectives had been secured, the 134 remaining members of 1st Bn, 5th Marines filed wearily down from the torn and blasted ridge. Among those they left behind was an unlikely 51-year-old platoon leader, a man whose courage and leadership were an inspiration to all who knew him. Yet, for all that, he was a man whose life had been spent erasing a dark secret of shame and disgrace. His story began years before.

He was born Henry Lewis Hulbert on January 12, 1867, in Kingston-Upon-Hull, Yorkshire, England. The first child of a prosperous merchant family, he was joined by a brother and three sisters. None of the children of Henry Ernest Hulbert and Frances (Gamble) Hulbert knew the want and deprivation that was the lot of so many children born into the industrial cities of the mid-19th century. Theirs was a childhood, if not of luxury, then certainly of abundance, an abundance that included a far better than average education.

For young Henry this meant matriculation at the prestigious and exclusive Felsted School in Essex, a school that traces its origins to 1564. At the age of 13, already showing signs of the tall, rangy, handsome young man he would become, Henry Lewis Hulbert found himself immersed in the demanding rigors of a classical education in mathematics, science, Latin, Greek and English literature. There was a purpose to all of this, for even at an early age the young Yorkshireman had determined upon a career in Britain's Colonial Civil Service. In 1884, not yet 18 years old, Henry Lewis Hulbert received his first appointment-clerk and storekeeper-in the Civil Service of the Malay State of Perak, today a part of the country of Malaysia.

The drive for excellence that was to mark the rest of his life manifested itself with superior performance that soon caught the eyes of his supervisors. Among those impressed was Robert Douglas Hewett, state auditor for Perak and right-hand man of the British Resident (governor) Frank Sweattenham. Soon young Hulbert was exercising authority and responsibility far beyond his years and exercising it exceedingly well. His records show such diverse assignments as Inspector of Public Works in Krian, District Engineer for Kuala Kangsar, Harbor Master for the port of Matang and District Magistrate for Kinta District.

He also acquired a sweetheart, Anne Rose Hewett, his mentor's sister, who had been born in Bombay, India. In June of 1888, with the approval and best wishes of the influential Hewett family, the two were married. A year later the young couple welcomed the arrival of a daughter, Sydney. It was, to all appearances, a perfect family.

Henry Lewis Hulbert's career was taking off. His own exceptional abilities and his marriage into a powerful family guaranteed his eventual rise to the top. Admired and respected by his peers and favored by his superiors, he was a man marked for success. Then, in the early summer of 1897, everything crashed down around him. Henry Lewis Hulbert had fallen deeply in love with his wife's younger sister, visiting from England. It had begun secretly two years earlier during a previous visit. Drawn irresistibly toward each other, they had become lovers. Then they were discovered, and the fury of the Hewett family descended like an executioner's axe.

The sister-in-law was immediately put aboard a ship bound for England, only to die tragically in a shipwreck during a storm on the homeward voyage. For Henry Lewis Hulbert there was banishment. He was sent packing with scarcely more than the clothes on his back, told to leave the Malay States and never return. A discreet and very quiet divorce followed.

Where does a man go when he flees disgrace and shame? For Henry Lewis Hulbert it was Skagway, jumping off point for Chilkoot Pass and the Klondike gold fields. The venture didn't pan out. By the following spring he had wandered to San Francisco. With war with Spain looming, Henry Lewis Hulbert enlisted in the Marine Corps on March 28, 1898, a 31-year-old private with a ruined life behind him and skimpy prospects before him. It is unlikely that he thought of it in such dramatic terms, but the moment he had spent his life waiting for had arrived. The exiled magistrate and the United States Marine Corps were made for each other.

Boot camp at Mare Island, Calif., was followed by assignment to the Marine Guard, USS Philadelphia (C-4) and the beginning of a remarkable record as a United States Marine. Barely more than a year after his enlistment, on April 1, 1899, during a combined British-American expedition in Samoa, Henry Lewis Hulbert was awarded the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism. When the landing force of British and American Marines and seamen was ambushed by a numerically superior rebel force, Private Hulbert, despite being wounded himself, conducted a one-man delaying action that enabled the landing force to withdraw to a defensible position covered by the guns of the warships offshore. Under fire from three sides, he stood his ground, refusing to withdraw until the main body had established a new defensive perimeter. Single-handedly he held off the attackers, while at the same time he protected two mortally wounded officers, Lieutenant Monaghan, USN and Lt Freeman, RN. In his official report of the action, Lt Constantine M. Perkins, commander of Philadelphia's Marine Guard, wrote of Pvt Hulbert: "His conduct throughout was worthy of all honor and praise."

When he left USS Philadelphia in 1902, Hulbert wore the chevrons of a sergeant. The years that followed saw his steady rise through the enlisted ranks. Serving in a succession of billets ashore and afloat that were representative of the era, he never missed an award of the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal and never fired less than Expert Rifleman in his regular service rifle requalification. His conduct and proficiency marks were uniformly the highest that could be awarded, and his service records contain numerous commendations by reporting seniors. He was also gaining a reputation as a totally dependable noncommissioned officer, whose advice was sought by seniors and subordinates alike. A congenial and friendly man, whose knowledge and experience covered an array of subjects, and who delighted in good company and good conversation, he was described by a fellow Marine as having "the bearing and manners of a fine gentleman and the complete and all-embracing courtesy of an earlier generation." Yet even those who knew him best never heard him speak of his life before joining the Marine Corps.

By 1917 Hulbert had attained the grade of sergeant major, the Marine Corps' senior NCO of that grade, and he served on the personal staff of Major General Commandant George Barnett. He also had remarried, and he and his wife, Victoria, had settled into a modest house in Riverdale, Maryland, eventually to be joined by an infant daughter, Leila Lilian Hulbert. It was also in 1917, shortly before America's entry into World War I, that Hulbert appeared before an examining board to determine his fitness for appointment to the newly established grade of Marine gunner. On March 24, 1917, with the enthusiastic recommendation of the president of the examining board, Brigadier General John A. Lejeune, Henry Lewis Hulbert became the first Marine ever to wear the bursting bomb grade insignia of a Marine gunner.

Considered too old for combat at the age of 50, Gunner Hulbert nonetheless pressed to be among those sent to France. He could have remained safe and secure in his position in the office of the Major General Commandant, returning home each evening to his wife and daughter. Who would have expected a man of his years to go off to war? He did, and that was what was important. There was a war, and the old war horse could not sit idly by while other Marines fought it. Finally winning the approval of Gen Barnett, with whom he had a long and close association, Hulbert, again the Marine Corps' senior officer of his grade, sailed for France aboard the old transport Chaumont with the 5th Marines in July 1917.

In France they tried to give him a safe job out of the way at regimental headquarters, but they could not keep him there. At every opportunity--and he created plenty of opportunities--he found his way up to the front lines and indulged himself in a bit of free-lance fighting. Finally, the powers that be gave in to the inevitable. Gunner Hulbert, 51 years old, was assigned as a platoon leader with the 66th Company (later C Co), 1st Bn, 5th Marines. It did not take the enemy long to learn he was there.

Wounded in his regiment's first major engagement, at Belleau Wood on June 6, 1918, Gunner Hulbert was twice cited in official orders for acts of bravery. On one occasion, armed only with a rifle, he single-handedly attacked German machine-gun positions and, as the citation read, "left seven of the enemy dead and put the remainder to flight." The second citation commended him for continuing to lead his platoon in attacks that routed the defenders of a series of strong points despite being painfully wounded himself.

The platoon leader who was old enough to be the father of the men he led, whose stamina and endurance were the envy of men half his age, was not quite finished. A third act of heroism led him to be decorated with the distinguished Service Cross, one of the first Marines to be so recognized. In his official report of the monthlong fighting in Belleau Wood, Army Major General Omar L. Bundy, commanding general of the 2d Division, United States Regular, in which the 5th Marines served as part of the famed Marine Brigade, singled out Hulbert, "for his extraordinary heroism in leading attacks against enemy positions on June 6th." General Bundy concluded, "No one could have rendered more valuable service than Gunner Hulbert."

Gen Bundy was not alone in his praise. Captain George K. Shuler, USMC wrote, "I should be most glad to have Gunner Hulbert under me in any capacity, and should he through good fortune be promoted over me I should be most happy to serve under his command." Lt W. T. Galliford, himself a winner of the Distinguished Service Cross, remarked, "If the Fifth Regiment goes over the top, I want to go with Mister Hulbert." General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force, personally recommended that Hulbert be directly commissioned as a Captain.

Heroism under fire at Soissons, an action in which he was again wounded, saw Gunner Hulbert cited for bravery yet again, commissioned a second lieutenant and immediately promoted to first lieutenant. But the trail ahead of him was growing short. At Blanc Mont Ridge on October 4, 1918, the Second Division's bloodiest single day of the war, it ended.

Approved by the Secretary of the Navy for promotion to the grade of Captain, Henry Lewis Hulbert, up front as usual, was struck down by an unknown German machine-gunner. John W. Thomason saw him fall and noted the peaceful look upon his face. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and cited for bravery a fourth time. The French government bestowed the Croix de Guerre Order of the Army upon this "most gallant soldier." Britannia's son, who gave his life for his adopted land, rests today in Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery. His name is among those inscribed on the Peace Cross at Bladensburg, Md., erected in 1919 to honor the memory of the men from Prince George's County who died in the Great War.

But the story of Henry Lewis Hulbert did not end with his death in France. On June 28, 1919, Victoria C. Hulbert, the widow of this inspirational Marine, christened the destroyer USS Henry L. Hulbert (DD-342) when it was launched at Norfolk, Virginia. Commissioned and put into service in 1920, Hulbert served continually on the Asiatic Station until 1929 when she returned to American waters, remaining there until she was decommissioned in 1934. Recalled to service in 1940, Hulbert was assigned to the Pacific Fleet and on Dec. 7, 1941, was moored at Berth D-3, Submarine Base, Pearl Harbor, territory of Hawaii. While Hulbert's whaleboats rescued seamen from stricken ships along Battleship Row, her .50-caliber antiaircraft battery brought down a Japanese torpedo bomber and damaged two others. The ship continued to serve in the Central and North Pacific until she was taken to Philadelphia and decommissioned for the last time in November 1945. In 1946, USS Henry L. Hulbert was stricken from the Navy List and sold for scrap.

Saved from the scrap heap was the ship's bell. For more than 50 years that bell, along with others of its kind, mementos of long-gone ships of the line, collected dust in a warehouse at the Washington Navy Yard. Then, in July of 1998, thanks to the efforts of the Medal of Honor Society, the ship's bell of USS Henry L. Hulbert was rededicated at The Basic School's Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Virginia. On the quarterdeck of Mitchell Hall, along with the decorations won by her ship's namesake, the bell stands as a reminder of the exemplary qualities of a magnificent Marine. What better inspiration for officers about to assume one of the Marine Corps' most demanding duties-infantry platoon leader-than a man whose dedication to duty and devotion to the Marine Corps continue to serve as an example years after his death on the battlefield?

Did Henry Lewis Hulbert find redemption? Did he regain his lost honor? You be the judge.

Author's note: Special thanks for assistance in the preparation of this article are due to Mary C. Leitch of Immingham, Lincolnshire, England. Without her detailed and exhaustive research efforts, nothing would be known of the early life of Henry Lewis Hulbert. From all Marines, a hearty "Well done!"


.... to all of our fallen, I am grateful for your service and sacrifice.......

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USMC....

..... tomorrow is a very special day.... and this fellow sums it up just about perfectly.......

.... tomorrow the ritual will begin here at The Compound..... and it will end with an upturned glass, and empty plate, and the sound of grilling lamb chops.....

... happy 236, Marines...... Semper Fi......

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Septembers.......

.... I weep tonight for them yet again......... and tears aren't nearly enough........

.... I remember.....

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Winning......

... good evening, rubberneckers, I trust that you are all well....... as for me, I'm just dandy-o..... as Dell Gue once famously put it, "Sure, sure, I got a fine horse UNDER me!"....

... anyhoo, I was catching up on some of my reading today and found a true gem....... it's from the American Zen poet Lucien Stryk..... and, like me, I will wager that not many of you knew that he had served in the Pacific during WWII.... hey, it certainly was a surprise to me when I discovered that he had....... and since AMC is running Conan the Barbarian at three hour intervals tonight, I'll simply leave you with the poem and toddle off for some dramatic renewal of purpose....

.... I hope that you enjoy.... I found it incredibly moving....



The Pit, by Lucien Stryk

Twenty years. I still remember
The sun-blown stench, and the pit
At least two hundred yards from
The cove we'd anchored guns in.
The were blasting at the mountains,
The beach was nearly ours.

The smell kept leaking back.
I thought of garbage cans
Behind chopsuey restaurants
Of home, strangely appealing on
A summer's night, meaning another
Kind of Life. Which made the difference.

When the three of us, youngest in
The crew, were handed poles and told
To get the deadmen underground
Or join them, we saw it a sullen
Sort of lark. And lashed to the trees,
The snipers had us dancing.

Ducks for those vultures in the boughs,
Poles poking through the powder-
Bitten grass, we zigzagged
Toward the pit as into
The arse of death, the wittiest
Of us said but did not laugh.

At last we reached it, half full
Of sand and crawling. We clamped
Nose, mouth, wrenched netted helmets
To the chin, yet poles probed forward
Surgically, touching for spots
The maggots had no jelled.

Somehow we got the deadmen under,
Along with empty lobster tins,
Bottles, gear and ammo. Somehow
We plugged the pit and slipped back
To the guns. Then for days
We had to helmet bathe downwind.

I stuck my pole, clean end high,
Behind the foxhole, a kind of
Towelpeg and a something more.
I'd stare it out through jungle haze,
And wonder. Ask anyone who
Saw it: nobody won that war.

.... and with that, I am off....

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Generals.....

..... a quiet evening at home.....

Me: ..... so, do you like your dinner?.....
Her: Yes, actually, it is quite nice. (flicking through the latest issue of Smithsonian magazine while she ate.)
Me ...... so, what are you reading?......
Her: Um, it's autobiographical. General Jeandre.
Me: ..... waiting and waiting...... and finally blurting out, "well?..... WHAT did he do?!"....
Her: Huh? What did WHO Do?
Me: ..... General Jeandre!.... I have never heard of him, what did he do?..... what era was he?....
Her: What the hell are you talking about?..... and WHO is General Jeandre?.....
Me: ..... ok.... wait..... I asked what you were reading, and you said that you were reading an autobiography on General Jeandre...... what have I missed here in this conversation?....
Her: Well, firstly, you need a hearing aid....... and secondly, I didn't say that I was reading the autobiography of General Jeandre..... I said that I was reading an article on autobiographies....... and when you inquired further, I simply said, "the general genre" of autobiographies...... and NOT the autobiography of some General named Jeandre.......
Me: ..... fuck.....
Her: Yeah. It is time that you finally saw a doctor about your hearing. It's pretty bad when the whirr of the ceiling fans is enough to push you over the edge.

..... still, I can't help but laugh..... I was racking my brain from The Revolution, Napoleon, and Stalingrad to try to figure out who General Jeandre was........ perhaps I do need to see a doctor...... after all, my knowledge of history isn't THAT good........

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Overmountain.....

.... history is a funny old thing sometimes..... I read with great glee today an article in the November 2010 issue of Military History magazine...

... here's a snippet of the article that had me laughing hysterically.... the article itself is about The Battle of King's Mountain .....

To those living beyond the Appalachian Mountains, the American Revolution was a faraway war that had begun in the villages of New England and concerned places like New York and Philadelphia. Most of the "overmountain people", as they were called, descended from immigrants who had come not from England but from a vast Irish territory know as the Ulster Plantation. These Scotch-Irish had defied King George III's 1763 proclamation that prohibited private settlements west of the mountains. They claimed the forbidden wilderness for their own, felling trees to clear the land for small farms, building dirt-floor log cabins, growing what they needed and living as they pleased - a people apart.

Their "low, lazy, sluttish, heathenish, hellish life", shocked one Anglican missionary sent over the mountains in 1766 to convert them. He had particular difficulty averting his eyes from the "young women", who had "a most uncommon practice, which I cannot break them of. They draw their shift as tight as possible to the body and pin it close to shew [sic] the roundness of their breasts and slender waists (for they are generally finely shaped) and draw their petticoat close to their hips to show the fineness of their limbs."

The ogling missionary was witnessing a new American breed: People who had not migrated from England, people to whom Scotland was a folk memory, a place few of them had even seen. And, as Presbyterians, they had eschewed the hierarchal structure of the Anglican Church in favor of the democracy of the meeting house.

.... bhwahhahhaahha!!!.... "low, lazy, sluttish, heathenish, hellish life"....... I can't quit laughing about that one....... and the "generally finely shaped" young ladies???..... bhwhahahaahah!.... he's talking about my GGGGGrandmothers!!!!....

.... welcome to My World, rubberneckers..... my ancestors - with few exceptions - have been "overmountain men" since 1755..... and as best as I can tell, I had five ancestors at The Battle of King's Mountain all serving under Cleveland....

.... one of the overmountain exceptions, I found out yesterday, was a Virginian who crossed the Delaware with Washington......

.... one thing is for sure, though...... folks from "over the mountain" had and HAVE a whole different attitude towards just about everything......

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235th....

...... back in the 1920s the Commandant of the Marine Corps ordered that this message should be read to every formation of Marines throughout the world on this day.....

MARINE CORPS ORDERS No. 47 (Series 1921) HEADQUARTERS U.S. MARINE CORPS Washington, November 1, 1921

759. The following will be read to the command on the 10th of November, 1921, and hereafter on the 10th of November of every year. Should the order not be received by the 10th of November, 1921, it will be read upon receipt.

1.On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name "Marine". In memory of them it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

2.The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world's history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation's foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home, generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

3.In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term "Marine" has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

4.This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as "Soldiers of the Sea" since the founding of the Corps.

JOHN A. LEJEUNE,
Major Genera,l Commandant

... happy birthday, Marines..... may there be a Marine Corps for the next one thousand years.......

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Water....

... so, I've been reading (and enjoying) this site called "Shit My Drill Instructor Said"..... and I swear, the memories that all Marine recruits share are hilarious.... well, hilarious NOW, of course... at the time?.... yeah, they probably weren't so funny.....

.. anyway, I was reminded today of a fellow in my platoon who had the most unfortunate name..... his name was Wannamaker.... and I believe that he was from Boston, if memory serves....

... I arrived at Parris Island at the very end of May 1990...... so, I was there all of June, July, and August - months that provide coastal South Carolina a taste of what the surface of the Sun is like when it is pissed..... most of the month of July was "black flagged", as I recall, and the heat was causing recruits to drop like flies..... as a result, our Drill Instructors made us drink a canteen of water every morning while standing on line, three canteens of water - one right after the other - after evening chow, and another canteen of water before bed.... it wasn't just a lesson in hydration, they also used the water as a "training tool"....

.... for instance, after evening chow when we were forced to drink our three canteens?.... everyone puked.... everyone.... hell, we'd just had a big dinner, cleaned our rifles, shit, showered, and shaved.... we each had two canteens that we'd been issued.... both full of water at all times..... it's simply a question of doing what you are told to do... no matter what the consequences...

..... after chugging both canteens down with a count out of "one!, two!, three!", we were all ready to heave.... and for those staunch souls who didn't puke just then, the order of "double-time to the head and fill those canteens!" would surely induce the vomiting..... it's hard to keep from puking when you're running after drinking that much liquid..... but, inevitably, some didn't..... so, the third canteen of water usually did the trick in convincing the stalwarts to puke as well.....

... I wrote here once about hitting my "Heavy" DI mid-chevrons with a lettuce & water laden stream of vomit, if y'all remember..... he was pacing by me from right to left as I finished my second canteen....

... anyway, this wasn't supposed to be a post about puke..... my ability to digress is increasing as of late, I guess....... but, no.... this post was supposed to be about Recruit Wannamaker.....

.... see, one of the side effects of drinking three quarts of water in two minutes before going to bed is, well, that you are going to need to have a tinkle before morning..... and a very, very serious tinkle it will be.....

.... the problem is, you see, that once lights are out, no recruit is allowed to go to the head... and indeed, it is the Fire Watch's duty to make SURE that you are all snug in your little beds until morning..... and it was under such circumstances that poor Wannamaker's name became the bane of his existence....

.... once we'd finished our vomitfest and field day'd the barracks, we were ordered to bed at attention.... and we lay that way for our protestant prayer, our catholic prayer, and our Rifleman's Prayer were all finished, and until told to "adjust"... after that, the lights went out and we were allowed to go to sleep.....

.... around three in the morning - nearly ever morning - I awoke with my bladder literally bursting at the seams.... I'd slowly raise my head and check where the Fire Watch was on his rounds, and when the time was right, I would slide off my top bunk and slink over to the wall..... we were garrisoned on the second floor of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion's brick building..... I'd hide between the windows until the time was just right..... and then, drawing upon the ancient skills of my distant Cherokee ancestors, I would ease myself along the wall until I was three or four beds away from where MY rack was....

.... and over the course of three or four minutes - and depending on frequency of the Fire Watch's ploddings - I would stealthily piss out of the second story window every morning rather than risk the fury of a Drill Instructor for being caught in the head after lights-out....

.... hey, it worked for me.... and I always figured that if someone on the first floor caught a whiff of the smell, they'd blame the recruit four beds to my right anyway...... heh.....

... but alas, poor Wannamaker..... honestly, I don't know what his deal was.... either he was a very heavy sleeper, absolutely terrified of what the Drill Instructor might do to him if he were caught in the head, or just wasn't smart enough to think of peeing out the window, but every morning in July and most of August, he pissed himself while on line for the morning count-off..... I swear to god, every single morning...... just like clockwork, Wannamaker would piss himself....

..... I'm sure that the DI's EXPECTED us to overcome, adapt, and improvise.... that was the purpose of our training!.... me, I pissed out the window..... others snuck to the head and peed very, very quietly.... others?.... hell, I have no idea what they did, but they certainly must have done something!...... because it was only Wannamaker who gently pissed himself at attention each morning at 4:45......

.... after the second instance, he was called "Watermaker" for the rest of his time on the Island.....

.... this is all of no consequence, of course, just simply the wanderings of my mind after reading about "getting out of the rack and getting on line" today..... and yeah, we all had nicknames assigned to us by our Drill Instructors..... mine was "Diamond"...... maybe one day I'll tell that story as well.....

... but, god damn, at least my nickname wasn't Watermaker....... still, though, he graduated with the rest of us "orignals" from Platoon 3072..... we started off in May with 72 recruits.... and graduated in August with 41..... including 11 pick-ups..... my goodness, what a time.......

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Boots...

.... meet two old friends, gentle rubberneckers....... we first met in September of 1991 when the Aleutian SAR team (Adak) was handed a REI catalog and told to "gear up"..... each of us members were allowed to spend 500 bucks for personal equipment, and one of the goodies that I chose was a pair of genuine Danner Ft. Lewis boots.....

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... I still find it hard to believe that they're nearly twenty years old.... good grief, the time does fly, doesn't she?....... never re-soled, they must have been shined and/or treated with Sno Seal at least 500 times over the years.... and they are still just as warm, comfortable, and waterproof as they were the day that I first slipped them on my footsies and tromped off into the slushy tundra with them....

... I took them out of the closet today, brushed off the dust left on them from when Elisson and I camped during the winter, and doused them heavily with Red Wing Shoe's Waterproofing & Conditioning Liquid before buffing them up....

... sure, they droop a little from the 5,000 miles or more that I've worn them, but they are still truly as good as new......

.... and you know, I think the droop gives them a bit of character.... kinda like Kirk Douglas' dimpled chin... or the comfortable, self-assured slouch of Lee Marvin when he had his game on and a twinkle in his eye........

.... then again, when you spend big money on great equipment and maintain it properly?..... well, it'll usually more than pay for itself in the long run...... Danner boots, folks.... best 200 bucks that I ever spent......

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Memories....

.... from last year.....

.... in between thunderstorms today, I've managed to hold down a bit of patio furniture out back and dig into an old anthology of American War Poetry...... and since today is Memorial Day - a day for remembering those sacrifices of our Warriors - I'll share a few lines that I myself enjoyed out under the dogwoods this afternoon......

.... this first selection was written by a young George Washington.....

...The General (Edward Braddock) received the wound of which he died; but previous to it, had several horses killed and disabled under him. captains Orme and Morris his two Aides de Camp having received wounds which rendered them unable to attend, G.W. (Washington) remained the sole aid throughout the day, to the General; he also had one horse killed, and two wounded under him - A ball through his hat - and several through his clothes, but escaped unhurt.....

"The shocking Scenes which presented themselves in this Nights March are not to be described - The dead - the dying - the groans - lamentations - and cries along the Road of the wounded for help (for those under the latter descriptions endeavored from the first commencement of the action - or rather confusion - to escape to the second division) were enough to pierce a heart of adamant, the gloom and horror of which was not a little encreased by the impervious darkness which in places rendered it impossible for the two guides which attended to know whether they were in, or out of the tracks but by groping on the ground with their hands."

...George Washington, on General Edward Braddock's defeat by combined French and Indian forces in 1755, from Washington on Washington.

..... and a hundred or so years later, Walt Whitman had this to say......

"The dead in this war - there they lie, stewing the fields and woods and valleys and battlefields of the South - Virginia, the Peninsula, Malvern Hill and Fair Oaks, the banks of the Chickahominy, the terraces of Fredricksburg, Antietam Bridge, the grisly ravines of Manassas, the bloody promenade of the Wilderness; the varieties of the strayed dead (the estimate of the War Department is twenty-five thousand national soldiers killed in battle and never buried at all; three thousand drowned; fifteen thousand inhumed by strangers or on the march in haste, in hitherto unfound localities; two thousand graves covered by sand and mud, by Mississippi freshets; three thousand carried away by caving-in of banks, etc; Gettysburg, the West, numberless battles, camps, hospitals everywhere; the crop reaped by the mighty reapers - typhoid, dysentery, inflammations; and - blackest and loathsomest of all - the dead, and living burial pits - the prison pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle Isle, etc)..... The dead, the dead, the dead, our dead - "

Walt Whitman, "The Million Dead, Too, Summed Up", from Walt Whitman's 'Civil War'.....


.... to every family who has sent someone off to war, you have my utmost gratitude and respect....... and for those who have died for our freedoms?.... defending us?.... may we continue from now until the end of the world to be a nation that is worthy of your sacrifice........

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British.....

..... yesterday The Missus and I day-tripped up to Fort Loudon in Vonore, Tennessee..... a handful of re-enactors were pretending to be soldiers and civilians from the French and Indian war era, and it was quite fun..... they fired weapons, manned the cannons, drilled up and down the square, and generally had a fine old time..... as for me, I just sat back and soaked it all in.....

... it was a beautiful spring day and the cherry, dogwoods, and red buds were all blooming healthily as we picked our way around the compound and down the hillside..... scattered here and there were barefoot colonial women doing laundry, children jogging to and fro, and buckskin-clad civilians cat-calling to the drilling troops... "you've found a home in the army, you fool!", they yelled...... it was an education, to be sure...... and hey, not much has changed in three hundred years, I guess......

..... but as we prepared to leave, I couldn't help noticing one of the young lasses sitting in a doorway - her bonnet high atop her head, and her bare feet toeing the dust to the rhythm of the drummer boy's snare....

.... she was a youngish girl, perhaps 16, and a young soldier squatted beside her at the doorway..... he was obviously either her boyfriend or her older brother, and I simply could not resist the temptation to inquire further......

.... I slowly made my way over to where they were talking and asked the young man if he'd been in "the service" long...... heh...... he laughed and said that he'd been in "the service of the king since he was fourteen"..... talk about keeping it in character, that spectacled fellow wasn't about to budge an inch...... I inquired further as to his young lady friend, and just what a young woman of her years was meant to be doing on an overhill military base...... he smiled and said, "ahhhh, well, sir...... she's with me...... we're not just a military outpost here at Fort Loudon, sir..... we're also in the process of colonization...... and after all, a fella has to have someone to 'colonize' with, yes?".....

.... the girl planted both bare feet soundly in the dust, flushed beet red under her white cotton bonnet, and smiled sweetly out into space.....

.... I retrieved my cigarette case from my back pocket and tapped the back of a Camel for a few moments.......

.... "Indeed, sir", I replied....... "I actually hadn't thought of that..... but, you know, you're right... although, from the color of your wench's face right now, I'd wager that there will be a distinct lack of 'colonizing' going on this particular evening."......

...I lit my cigarette just as her scarlet turned to purple.... and that little "Y" vein in the center of your forehead?..... yeah, it made an appearance........

..... mercy...... history, folks...... it is often a helluva lot more interesting than you ever imagined.........

.... here's a few shots of the militia mustering and lowering the ensign....

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Elliot......

.... watching tonight's movie, I just have shouted five different times that "THERE was a shot that I would love to have hanging on my wall"...... the movie is just epic...... absolutely epic...... and it is no wonder that cinematographers have frothed at the mouth every time they have seen it since it was first displayed on the silver screen.......

..... as for me?..... I remember being ill in 10th grade and bedridden.... and while my mother worked away at the back of the house, I lay awake on the couch - full of fever - and watched "Laurence of Arabia" for the first time.....

.... I suppose the sights of those hardy gentlemen roving the desert kindled my life-long dream - to trek from Casablanca to Alexandria via caravan........ camel caravan.........

...... nowadays, I suspect that I'd need an armed guard....... but, wow..... can you imagine?...... I've been to the arctic..... and I have been to the jungle....... but I have never been to such a desert.......... and I do think that I would love it so.....

.....I mean, just let this little bit soak in for a while..... behold....

...... it reminds me so much of certain scenes in "Jeremiah Johnson"..... another great film that I dearly love......

.... shadows can be such beautiful things!.........

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Sahara

.... today has been a very, very unusual day around these parts....... I spent the better part of the day preparing three amazing lamb sirloins for the grill, and coaxing the goodness out of my infamous (at least according to Elisson) my Tennessee Taters...... otherwise known as my garlic, onion, and parmesan roasted potatoes......

... in any case, dinner went very, very well....... I marinated the lamb sirloins in a mixture of Worcestershire sauce and rosemary, and then grilled them to medium rare.... and I swear, folks, they were five times better than the normal "chops" that I have been buying for the past few years........ that bone in the chops is just a pain in the ass, if you ask me....... sirloin or leg shanks are much, MUCH better.......

..... as for later, well, the latter part of the evening rose, tailed off, buoyed, got quite interesting, and then tailed off again and then flopped..... but it mainly involved me standing in the living room waving my arms & hands and giving an impromptu history lesson to The Missus about the three-year history of North Africa during WWII...... ending, of course, with a sweeping set of hand gestures signifying the Germans being bottled up in Tobruk between east/west advancing armies, and how it was all Eisenhower's idea.... I even threw in references to Kasserine, Casablanca, Rabat, The Benghazi Handicaps, Suez, and El Alamein, but it didn't seem to make much difference...... but hey, you can't blame a fella for trying....

..... trust me, she will learn to rue the evenings when Turner Classic Movies is playing old propaganda films from the mid-40s..... tonight she is watching "Five Graves to Cairo"..... but I still say that the best WWII Africa movies are Bogart's version of "Sahara" and John Mills in "Ice-Cold in Alex"... but then, who am I to argue with Turner Classic Movies?.......

...in other news, today was an absolutely beautiful day here...... blue skies and mid 50s as I drove off for my fortnightly massage and back-popping....... it was a distinct pleasure to be alive and walking the planet..... and smelling those potatoes cooking all evening drove me absolutely nuts.....

.... and so, I leave you with this clip....... Bogart definitely knew how to treat a "lady"....... the clip is from "Sahara"....

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Cannons......

.... on this day in 1763, the French and British (and Spanish) signed the Treaty of Paris - thus ending the French and Indian War here in North America..... of course, in Europe it was called the Seven Years War.......

..... I bring this up only because I've spent the last three days watching and re-watching old war movies here as I have gone about my business....... and it occurred to me today that the only war fought by this country - as far as I can tell - that didn't involve at least one of my relatives was the French and Indian War.......

...... of the twenty or so branches of my family that I can trace, all were in this country prior to 1730...... with the exception of my own namesake, that is...... the earliest SWG that I can track back to was sitting on a jury in York District, SC in 1755.........

..... I dunno, but I just find it funny that all of the other branches have been so easily traceable...... and my own namesake seems so difficult to trace at times..........

....... but anyway, there you have it, folks....... today, in 1763, the French and Indian War was officially declared over.......

...... anyone remember this post?...... yeah, ole George Washington pretty much started the French and Indian war single-handedly......... and then, of course, we elected him once he'd grown up properly.........

..... America, folks....... what a country......

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Adak....

.... the quote of the day today comes from this little video clip...... "and now, we look out on the barren wasteland that is Adak..".... notice the southern wind zipping in his window when he rounds the corner of the building near the end?......... yeah, they didn't call Adak the "Birthplace of the Wind" for nothing..... and no, the "wind" in this post has nothing to do with the burritos that I wrote about yesterday...... ahem........

.... you know, I cannot count the times that I gleefully ate cold cheeseburgers brought back from that now-abandoned McDonalds, folks....... I lived "uptown" (about six miles away) at the foot of Mt. Adagdak.... so we only had McDonald's when someone made the trip and brought us back a bag....... and at the time - even stone cold - those burgers were a treat........

... but in retrospect?.... good god, that place sucked....

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Commando........

..... I trained with these gentlemen not too long ago....... good god..... what a difference ten years makes, eh?.........

...... still, the reporter did an amazing job.......... see?...

...... here's a bit of an example from the past..... and, of course, yet another......

.... you guys get what I am aiming at.......

.... Jesus Christ, why am I here trying to write a novel?........methinks that I need to refocus my efforts.........

.... because something just isn't right.......

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Places.....

.... a friend of mine sent me a link to this video this afternoon........ and I am quite sure that I will likely be having horrible nightmares for most of the night........

..... notice the BIG mountain on the left of the screen that is partially obscured with low-lying cloud?....... well, that'd be Mt. Moffett..... I wrote once of Mt. Moffett here, as I recall............

... Lake Andrew, although you can't see it from the shot, lies just to the south of the mountain and is protected from the Bering Sea by a thin seawall that runs from Mt. Moffett over to the east towards the "other" little bump you saw on the approach, Mt. Adagdak....... in the first few seconds of the approach video, Adagdak is off to the right..... a little pap-shaped arch of land.......

.... I lived in the shadow of Adagdak for nearly two years... climbed her many, MANY times out of pure boredom........ but, God, I do not miss that place one little bit........

....... the video shown here is not typical......

.... that plane came in and landed just as if it had done it a million times in the past, but trust me, those pilots will be sucking down the juice after that landing...... that was a landing of pure peace.......

..... every day that I was there, the planes landed sideways in a gale.... and the co-pilot had to have his ass pried from the cockpit because both cheeks had gripped onto the foam so viciously due to fright, that there was simply nothing else to be done in the matter........

..... eh.... lies, damned lies, and statistics..... and old memories of veterans....... hey, who can you really trust these days??.....


... but still?..... Adak, Alaska sucked, boys and girls..... and she sucked MIGHTY hard......

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re-read......

..... you know, it has been two days?........ and I still think that you should ignore this and go forth to re-read the words that I quoted two days ago........

..... god knows that I keep re-reading them......... over and over again....... and every time that I do, I see or feel something different.............

...... we should all be so lucky as those fine folks.........

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234....

.... five years ago tomorrow, I posted this in honor of Veteran's Day..... today, I am reposting it in honor of all my fellow Marines - past & present....... Semper Fi, brothers & sisters...... here's to 234 more years of the United States Marine Corps....

... "In the big war companies, 250 strong, you could find every sort of man.. from every sort of calling... There were Northwesterners with straw-colored hair that looked white against their tanned skins.... and delicately spoken chaps with the stamp of eastern universities on them.... There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps... and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle drawling voices....

.... There were husky farmers from the corn-belt... and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter... And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders, and bone-deep sunburn... and a tolerant scorn for everything on earth....

... Their speech was flavored with navy words... and the words culled from all the folk who live on the seas and the ports where our warships go.... In easy hours, their talk ran from the Tatar Wall beyond Peking to the Southern Islands, down under Manila; from Portsmouth Navy Yard - New Hampshire and very cold - to obscure bushwhackings in the West Indies, where Cacao Chiefs, whimsically sanguinary... barefoot generals with names like Charlemagne and Christophe, waged war according to the precepts of the French Revolution and the Cult of the Snake... They drank their eau de vie of Haute-Marne... reminisced on sake, and vino, and Bacardi Rum - Strange drinks in strange cantinas at the far ends of the earth; and they spoke fondly of Milwaukee beer.

... Rifles were high and holy things to them, and they knew five-inch broadside guns.... They talked patronizingly of the war, and were concerned about rations.... They were the Leathernecks, the Old Timers: collected from the ship's guard and shore stations all over the earth to form the 4th Brigade of Marines... the two rifle regiments, detached from the Navy by order of the President for service with the American regulars... regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point to the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.."

... quoted from "Fix Bayonets"... by Col. John W. Thompson , Jr. 1926

... Happy Birthday, Marines!... oh, and check out Mike's latest creation!..... most excellent....

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Birthdays......

.... when dawn sparks the morning tomorrow, I will turn 234 years old....... can you believe that?......... and honestly, I don't look a day over 50.......... no, really....

..... come the blessed dawn, folks......... good god......... had I stayed in my beloved Corps, I would be retiring next month.........

....still, though....... we each choose our own paths..........

.... and for tomorrow?....... cheers to my brothers!........ 234 years is a helluva milestone, guys.........

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Missing......

..... I remember being taught snippets of the Marine Corps' history when I was in bootcamp..... and the acronyms that they used to help you remember complex answers to questions...... JJDIDTIEBUCKLE, MOOSE MUSS, SMEAC, BAMCIS, and BIGOT...

.... BIGOT, though, I already knew from listening to my Great Uncles and Grandparents tell stories.... BIGOT was the acronym for the major Marine Corps assaults in the Pacific during World War II..... Bougainville, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, and Tarawa......

.... Great Uncle Robert had been a Seabee on Peleliu and Okinawa..... and his brother - my Great Uncle Frank had survived five major assaults in 13 months with the 14th Marines...... Roi Namur, Tinian, Saipan, Tarawa, and Iwo Jima.... he was wounded in the foot on Saipan by a shell fragment but was never taken off the line....

.... I remember when I told Great Uncle Robert that I was joining the Corps.... he could not even say the word "Marine" without getting a tear in his eye........ as an old, old man, he told me once that he had spent a week picking up their bodies on Peleliu after the battle..... and all he could think of was his brother, Frank....... the word "Marine" was almost something holy to him.......

.... I remember listening to Great Uncle Frank and my Grandfather talk one Easter at my Great Aunt Sue's house after everyone had been fed.... Grandpa was talking about The Battle of the Bulge and just how cold everyone had been hunkering down in the Ardennes..... almost to the point of turning blue...... and Frank had immediately launched into how most of the Marines who had landed on Iwo Jima WERE actually blue...... the Marines had been issued some sort of blue cream that acted as as sun screen and a flame retardant.....

.... you can see a blue-faced corpsman tending to a wounded Marine at 55 seconds here in this clip if you wish.... how odd it must have been to have run into battle painted blue......

... hell, how odd must it have been to have exited your LST and seen that wall of black sand?..... just knowing that mortars were soon to be on the way....... good god.......

.... after I graduated from bootcamp and was sent out into the fleet, I called Great Uncle Frank often..... I really didn't know him that well, come to think of it....... and I can probably count on both hands how many times that I actually conversed with him face to face as an adult.... but there was always something so absolutely disarming about him.... he smiled readily, laughed at the drop of a hat, and could make anyone feel like whatever they were saying was well worth listening to...

.... when I'd get lonely for my family, I'd always call him to chat..... whether I was in Alaska or Scotland, he was the friendly voice that I always enjoyed hearing...... I guess that since he had left Tennessee for Ohio himself after the war, I kinda felt that he might be a little homesick just as I was.....

.... but whatever the case, he always listened to me...... and he always cheered me up...... he told me once that I called him more than his grandchildren did - which, of course, made me feel like a complete shit for not calling my OWN only surviving grandmother more often than I did........ then again, perhaps that was it?..... both of my own grandfathers had already died...... had I somehow latched onto him as a sort of surrogate grandfather and brother Marine all rolled into one?.....

..... I just don't know, really...... but I do know that he was a pleasure to talk with..... he was quick-witted and sly..... always ready with a joke or a challenge to a game of pool.... and he was always, always smiling....... I've got a photo around here somewhere of he, my cousin Tommy, my Father, and I all out in the back yard of my Mom's house..... three generations of jarheads all standing underneath a dogwood tree...

.... two years ago I asked him about his fire missions on Iwo Jima - knowing that he was an artilleryman by trade....... I was shocked to hear that all of his battery's cannons were lost before they ever made it ashore..... the LSTs carrying the men & cannon were either hit, capsized, or swamped before ever reaching the beach....... he and others swam ashore and then spent their time on Iwo fighting as infantry......

.... he told me once that he was less than 500 yards from the famous "flag raising" on top of Mt. Suribachi..... and that he saw it go up........ hard to believe that a young Marine like myself would have a relative who was there.... AND who chanced to meet the nephew of Ira Hayes - one of the five who hoisted the flag that day........

..... sadly, though, I hate to report that one of my heroes is dying........ after having fought off many different illnesses over the past decade, word came down through the family that he has been taken off dialysis due to being diagnosed with cancer in both lungs and in his spine..... he is 85 years old....... a good long age, I guess........ but still too short, if you ask me........

.... I called last night and spoke to his wife for nearly an hour...... she was strong, he was asleep, and I cried like a baby trying to tell her all of the things that I wished she would say to him when he awoke.....

.... he is a relative, of course......... and as I said before, I really don't know him that well........ but knowing that he has less than two weeks to live has tweaked something in me........ he was a good man - I do know that....... and he was a kind man......

...... and he was a warrior, a brother, and a friend when I needed one....... he must have thought that I was crazy when I called him from so far away to talk about history, Tennessee, my Grandfather, and The Marines.........

.... I don't really know what he thought..... but he always let me ramble....... and he always listened....... and he always laughed and shook my hand at every family reunion...... and I always called him sir.....

..... I am going to miss him so....... and it breaks my heart..... it truly does......

.... there are some people that I have met that I truly wish could live forever...... and he was one of them......

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Hands.....

.... there was a slight, steady breeze most of the afternoon today.... and I spent quite a few hours out on the patio under the shade of the dogwoods reading and writing - and sweating in the shade in spite of the breeze....... 90 degrees with 95% humidity?...... a breeze only creates a convection for the outdoor oven to all-the-better bake you with....... it's a helluva thing to sit in the shade - drinking cool liquids - and still sweat yourself into a puddle........

...... anyhoo, I found an interview of Paul Cartledge in last April's issue of Military History magazine that I couldn't quit laughing at....... he's evidently written a book about the Spartan's defense at Thermopylae that the critics are enjoying...... he had some interesting ideas in the interview....... but here is a brief quote for your enjoyment......

Question: Was this battle an example of what some historians later defined as "a Western way of war"?

Answer: Yes. The notion is that somehow we in the West are solitary and fight hand to hand. We look the enemy in the eyes, whereas Orientals tend to fight at a distance or from horseback, so they distance themselves from the actual physicality of war. Now guns transformed the notion of courage straightaway, so you have to look quite hard to find is Western tradition of courage persisting beyond the 17th or 18th century. But there is something to it.

...... look to the 17th or 18th centuries??....... good god........ when I was in the Corps, we were ALL taught hand to hand.... and as an adult I learned to fight with a knife...... a knife that I carry every day that I have my pants on....... and I have the defensive scars on my arms and hands to prove that I've played a few hands with blades......

.... I remember my Dad - a USMC Vietnam vet - telling me a story about some Marines trapped on some hilltop in Vietnam calling in for an evac........ the helicopter pilot radioed down to the embattled Marines... "Is the enemy close?"..... to which the grunt on the ground replied, "yeah, sir... hang on just a second and I'll let you talk to one of them."......

..... five years ago a soldier from El Salvador whipped out his pocket knife in Iraq and knifed two Bad Guys who were attacking the rest of his squad with AK-47s......

... 1600s?..... 1700s?..... hardly.... the spirit to get in there and mix it up is still MORE than alive and ready and living happily in the hearts of our warriors.......

..... I will say, though, that I think that I am very glad that the Japanese samurai stayed in Japan......... because that would have blown his theory right out of the water........ (even though there were a couple thousand years between the Greeks, Persians, and the Samurai.).......

...... still, though, all you have to do is to look at the "mission" of every Marine combat unit........ their mission?... words that we all learned in bootcamp......

... "to Locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver.".....

.... catch that?...... "close with"...... for those of you who don't know, that means "to get close, to engage, to pursue, to make contact with. etc"........

....... and as a rule?..... if you meet someone - anyone - who is willing to locate, close with, and destroy you?....... well, it is safe to say that the pretty well mean business..........

.... I might suggest that Mr. Cartledge read some more up to date history...... that warrior spirit is still very, very alive and well.......... especially in the Marine Corps.....

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Soul.....

..... so The Missus and I were absentmindedly watching an episode of "Pitchmen" last night while we ate our tea, when the oddest of conversations took place...

.... Billy Mays was happily whacking the shit out of his hand with a 20oz hammer while The Missus pushed her hunk of grilled salmon around her plate...

"Wow!", says she. "When they finally get around to making insoles out of that stuff that he has his hand wrapped in, they're going to send Dr. Scholl straight to bankruptcy!"

...."Yeah, well.... that'd be a good thing.... if I ever meet Dr. Scholl, I'm gonna punch him in the forehead.... I owe him one.."

"You what?! What in the WORLD could you have against someone who makes cushioned insoles?!? Cushioned insoles are little slices of heaven!"

"....Well, they may well be, but sometimes you have to be very, very careful of what you wish for..."

... laying her knife and fork aside and reaching for her glass of wine, she laughed.... "OK. I'll bite. What did Dr. Scholl ever do to you to warrant such evil ire?"

.... ".... remember when Connie and Gary were over for dinner two weeks ago?.... and after dinner we were talking about their son going to boot camp?..... and how I told them that when I was a boot at Parris Island I cried three weeks in because it was our first mail call?..... and how I sat there looking at that envelope from my Mom and cried because I suddenly realized that during those hectic, stressful, sleepless three weeks of training that I had forgotten that I even had a Mother?"...

"Yeah, I remember that. Connie seemed so shocked that you could be so focused and overwhelmed that you'd actually forget that you had a family.... that you could forget that anything existed outside of where you were AT THAT MOMENT.."

.... "well, that's kinda the point, I guess....... trust me, when you are a boot a Parris Island, those DIs are ALL that you can think of.... that's how they train you so well...... anyway, so, yeah..... but there was a second time that tears rolled down my face while I was in boot camp..... it was my own fault, sure..... but Dr. Scholl was a handy fall guy.... "

"Wait. Insoles made you cry? OK, keep going. This I simply have to hear."

...."..... back in 1990, boot camp was broken into three distinct phases.... 1st phase was drill, knowledge, rifle manual, etc..... 2nd phase was a month on the rifle range..... and 3rd phase was BWT - Basic Warrior Training out at Elliot's Beach....basically a month of living in a tent or foxhole and doing infantry-type stuff...... anyway, at the end of 1st phase we were scheduled to have a 7 mile march out to the big, White Elephants - white clapboard barracks where we'd be staying for our month at the rifle range....... in preparation for that hike - our first major mileage hike - our DIs gave us a chance to visit the base exchange to buy a few things..... and I snapped up a pair of Dr. Scholl's gel insoles to put in my jungle boots...."

"Jungle boots? I don't think I have ever seen a pair of 'jungle boots'. You still have your old leather ones, do you still have your jungle boots?"

...."... no way..... we had to have them, but I tried my best to never wear them.... I kept them polished and put away in my wall locker for inspections.... but the day I got out of the Corps, I threw those bastards in the nearest dumpster...... basically they were made for wet weather wear, you see?.... canvas uppers, very little leather, wide & knobby soles for gripping mud.... and a steel shank that ran between the waffled insole and the rubber sole to protect your feet from punji sticks.....

"Punji sticks?"

..... "yeah, well, evidently it was a huge problem in Vietnam.... the enemy would sharpen sticks and put them in camouflaged pits where GIs would accidentally fall in and step on them..... so the military came up with the idea of putting metal in the boots.."

"Ahhh. Makes perfect sense in a very surreal sort of way."

..."anyway, the day before our 7 mile hike - our first big hike with full pack and gear - I slipped those gel insoles into my jungle boots..... good god, I was in heaven...... I'd turned those olive drab pieces of shit into absolutely mind-numbingly comfortable little Cadillacs of joy... from the chow hall to the barracks..... from the quarterdeck to the obstacle course, I was in heaven with each footfall..... especially after having worn them with the ISSUED insole for the past month..... I was seriously considering sending Dr. Scholl some fan mail at the end of that first day......

"But, I don't get it. You just said that you liked them. What happened to change your mind?"

..."..... seven miles happened, Fiona...... there's a big difference in walking a hundred yards and walking seven miles...... the original insoles for the jungle boots were about an 1/8th of an inch high..... and the Scholl's insoles were probably closer to a 1/4 of an inch.... which really didn't matter for a trip to the mess hall...... but certainly made a huge difference on a trip out to the rifle range..."

... I stood up and took my cleaned plate to the dishwasher and grabbed a glass for a gin and tonic..... "those insoles - while comfortable for the soles of my feet - RAISED the profile of my feet as well..."

I finished making my gin and tonic and made my way back to the dining room table. "So, did you get any blisters on the soles of your feet?"

.... "nope..... the soles of my feet were fine...... but the tops of all ten toes blistered, burst, blistered again, and burst...... until there was nothing but raw meat..... the worst thing was?..... I could tell that I was in trouble at 1/2 a mile..... at 1/2 a mile I was hurting..... at a mile, I was dying..... and when we finally arrived at those White Elephants, the pain had moved on from the white hot searing, to the clawing, sandpaper feeling..... the fabric of my blood-soaked cotton socks acted like a cross-cut saw across the tops of each toe.."

"Good god."

.... "yeah...... it was bad...... the DIs knew that we'd all be messed up after our first big hike, though..... so as soon as we arrived at the new barracks, we were ordered to stand on top of our footlockers and take our boots off so that the DIs could inspect our feet....... I remember standing there in my bloody socks - afraid to take them off - and dreading the approach of our senior DI and our Company Commander..... I was hurt, helpless, hopeless, and afraid...... but most of all?..... I was embarrassed that I had done that to myself..... embarrassed..... can you imagine?..... barely 17 years old, and I was ashamed of what the Drill Instructors were going to think of me for being so utterly stupid..... and when the Captain and SSgt Conyers finally showed up in front of me, I had tears rolling down both cheeks..... both from pain and shame, I guess..."

"Wow. What did they do?"

....".... well, they made me take off my socks.... then they called for the corpsman..... and then they made me wear my running shoes for three days instead of my boots so that my feet would have a bit of time to heal...."

"My goodness. Hey, look! Billy Mays is hitting his hand with that hammer again."

...... "yeah, well..... good luck to those guys and their insole...... Dr. Scholl can kiss my ass...."

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Memorial....

.... in between thunderstorms today, I've managed to hold down a bit of patio furniture out back and dig into an old anthology of American War Poetry...... and since today is Memorial Day - a day for remembering those sacrifices of our Warriors - I'll share a few lines that I myself enjoyed out under the dogwoods this afternoon......

.... this first selection was written by a young George Washington.....

The General (Edward Braddock) received the wound of which he died; but previous to it, had several horses killed and disabled under him. captains Orme and Morris his two Aides de Camp having received wounds which rendered them unable to attend, G.W. (Washington) remained the sole aid throughout the day, to the General; he also had one horse killed, and two wounded under him - A ball through his hat - and several through his clothes, but escaped unhurt.....

"The shocking Scenes which presented themselves in this Nights March are not to be described - The dead - the dying - the groans - lamentations - and cries along the Road of the wounded for help (for those under the latter descriptions endeavored from the first commencement of the action - or rather confusion - to escape to the second division) were enough to pierce a heart of adamant, the gloom and horror of which was not a little encreased by the impervious darkness which in places rendered it impossible for the two guides which attended to know whether they were in, or out of the tracks but by groping on the ground with their hands."

George Washington, on General Edward Braddock's defeat by combined French and Indian forces in 1755, from Washington on Washington.

..... and a hundred or so years later, Walt Whitman had this to say......

"The dead in this war - there they lie, stewing the fields and woods and valleys and battlefields of the South - Virginia, the Peninsula, Malvern Hill and Fair Oaks, the banks of the Chickahominy, the terraces of Fredricksburg, Antietam Bridge, the grisly ravines of Manassas, the bloody promenade of the Wilderness; the varieties of the strayed dead (the estimate of the War Department is twenty-five thousand national soldiers killed in battle and never buried at all; three thousand drowned; fifteen thousand inhumed by strangers or on the march in haste, in hitherto unfound localities; two thousand graves covered by sand and mud, by Mississippi freshets; three thousand carried away by caving-in of banks, etc; Gettysburg, the West, numberless battles, camps, hospitals everywhere; the crop reaped by the mighty reapers - typhoid, dysentery, inflammations; and - blackest and loathsomest of all - the dead, and living burial pits - the prison pens of Andersonville, Salisbury, Belle Isle, etc)..... The dead, the dead, the dead, our dead - "

Walt Whitman, "The Million Dead, Too, Summed Up", from Walt Whitman's Civil War

.... to every family who has sent someone off to war, you have my utmost gratitude and respect....... and for those who have died for our freedoms?.... defending us?.... may we continue from now until the end of the world to be a nation that is worthy of your sacrifice........

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Times......

...... I took a break from the daily duties today, lit a cigarette, scratched my noggin, and watched as a life - one lived entirely too briefly - was cut short before my eyes.....

..... let me backtrack a bit........ see, a while back I noticed that a wasp had emerged a bit early from her usual hibernation as I reclined on the deck......... and those first, haphazard staggers of hers intrigued me........

...... wasps are not at all like bees, it seems...... at least in the Breeding Sense, that is..... unlike the bees that we are familiar with, wasps create a Queen at the end of the autumn season who then hibernates all winter and emerges in the springtime with a belly full of eggs and a pouch full of sperm from the previous year........ and she make short work of fortifying a nest and scattering her seed....... drones, of course......... but can you imagine?........

...... imagine being the Only One of Your Kind to survive the winter..... and it being your sole responsibility to create, feed, house, and protect The Next Generation of Your Kind until they were strong enough that their hormones could collectively create a replacement for you that would suffice their genes into the next generation......

.... ahhh..... I don't know....... but years ago?....... I enacted a chemical warfare attack on the local wasp population that would have made Saddam Hussein proud (had he not been hiding in that spider-hole of his at the time)........ I laid them low, those wasps......... sprays, baits, traps, stompings........ I smashed, sprayed, and poisoned every single one that I could find......

..... but I have fortunately been rehabilitated since........ slightly...

.... I once thought of wasps as simply being things that would sting me accidentally when I got too close, or bothered them while I was picking grapes (and they were prowling the grapevine blooms)........ but in the mean time, I have found myself re-informed and reformed, on a certain level.......

..... and as it stands, wasps were not put on this earth to sting me........ and they are not meant to keep me from my backyard peaches or grapes......... and when they wind up on the inside of one of my tee-shirts that was hung out back to dry?...... well, they were not ambushing me........ they were just lost, confused, and misdirected.........

..... in the end, folks, wasps are here because they are predators.......

.... and our world needs predators...... more than most of us recognize.....

.... lookit.... wasps eat 1/2 of their body-weight in insects every day....... mosquitoes, flies, aphids, spiders, and beetles......... wasps eat'em all........

.... but today, as I mentioned when I began this post, I watched a life fade away this afternoon....... and yes, it was a wasp's life........

....... a spider got him, of course......... right up there in the corner of the windowsill..........at 3pm this afternoon he was twitching wildly in the web.... and by 7pm - just as the Sun set - his noggin had two fangs set deep, and the spider was sucking out the remainder of his bodily fluids.....

....... I am torn after all of this..... but I am usually torn when it comes to such things....... after all, I know what it is like to consider oneself a predator...... hell, I was a Marine for five years........

..... I guess that my question is, do we need more spiders in this world....... or more wasps..... after all, we live in a world of terrorists, pirates, hostages, and warriors...... and as long as we live, these castes will be among us....... so, what say you?........ who is the one that we should root for?......

..... in the face of all the evidence, I'm definitely leaning towards spiders..........

.... somehow they seem more trustworthy and reliable.......

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233rd.......

..... today is a very special day to all of my fellow Marines out there..... for today we celebrate the birthday of our Beloved Corps....... 233 years and counting, folks.......

.... 2006's post here still stands..... and I offer it to you once again as I prep myself and the grill this evening.......

.... Semper Fi, my brother and sister Marines..... and happy birthday to you all.....

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Lost.....

..... back when I was just a little guy, my mother and father insisted that I attend church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night........ pertinent thoughts on their part, I reckon.... they were, after all, trying hard to make sure that I was not brought up a heathen...... and I don't really see that it ever did me any harm.........

....... but having said that, I did not enjoy getting up every Sunday and trudging off to church...... it was a bother at the time, and it still is to this day........ and being a member of the local Church of God community, well, their doctrine most certainly was not Methodist.... or Baptist....... good god, we were like Baptists on steroids with a stash of HGH hidden in those leather folders on the back of every pew.......

.... and if I want to be truly honest about it, hell, twenty miles from where I am typing this there are Church of God folks handling serpents in the shadows of the Appalachians......... not that there is anything wrong with serpent-handling, per se, but it just isn't MY bag.......... so it is completely safe to say that my early religious upbringing was more than just a little strict............ and while I have not followed their doctrines as an adult, I DID do something that shaped my life early on because it felt like the 'right thing to do'....... so, I enlisted - along with my best friend, Mike - at the age of 11 and 12 respectively.........

.... it was after the bombing in Beirut that we both ripped out advertisements from separate magazines that our middle-school's library held, mailed them off, and enlisted in the Marine Corps......... we were pissed at the current state of affairs...... and did a serious amount of nail-biting before we finally heard back from some Colonel in DC who rejected our applications......... it didn't work, of course, since we were both woefully underage, but we tried........... and we were both very sincere.... both before AND afterwards......

.... so the question remains about where I am going with this line of awful screed.....and I agree....... I am going nowhere......

.... but the Missus switched a channel over this evening after dinner and settled on "The Sands of Iwo Jima" for a bit........ just up until the point where John Wayne got shot, actually....... and we started a bit of a conversation about it.......

.... she watched a bit of the film..... and she could easily discern which was real combat footage and which was Hollywood...... and after a few minutes, she looked at me and said, "my god, how horrible!"......

.... that, I think, is what struck me the most....... the "my god, how horrible".......

..... and that is what brings me to the crux of tonight's rambling........

..... I remember sitting on a hardwood pew in that god-fearing church and listening to a Marine Corps veteran talk about Guadalcanal one Sunday morning...... he stood up and began 'testifying' about how God had protected him, how God had saved him, and how he now owed his life to God....... the whole congregation was moved by it..... he was old, eloquent, violently grey, and completely satisfied in everything that he said.....

.... he mentioned that he'd spent the night of his 16th birthday manning a .30 caliber machine gun by a river on Guadalcanal facing 'human waves'........ can you imagine that for a minute?.... 'human waves'.... in the dark?...... in a steaming, insect ridden jungle?....... at freshly 16?........ and he went on to talk about how he'd mown them down..... right there in the dark by that river....

..... I doubt that I ever viewed religion, life, politics, history, or the Marine Corps the same since I heard him speak that day....... but six years later, I was off to bootcamp.....

.... I look at where we are today, and I cannot forget about that man that I knew so many years ago...... can you imagine?...... Guadalcanal....... Human Waves......... The Jungle....... it just absolutely blows my mind...

.... and then I look to my relatives who served at Siapan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, Pelieu, and The Battle of The Bulge........ and the others?.... Hue, Danang, Phu Bhia, Khe Sahn, Phu Loc, and 881....... Monkey Mountain.... Highway 1.......

.... what was it that drove my old friend to enlist at 15 years of age back in 1941?..... love of county?..... pride?..... anger?....... or did he just want to serve his county?....... did he just want an 'out'?.... an adventure?.........

....... I just don't know...... but I do know that these people are my family, my friends, and my ancestors....... and I honor them.........

..... I guess the real question is, who will stand up in the future and take their places?.....

.... I know that there will be folks who will stand up and be counted..... I do....... there will always be those people...... but tonight, I am tired...... and I am lonely........ and I wish that I could sit down and have a drink with my long-dead Grandpa............ he could make a mess of fried potatoes that were the ultimate comfort food.......

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Time.....

..... I manned the grill tonight and fed an Aunt and Uncle that had dropped in for a visit....... it was an enjoyable time, and the food was pretty good too....... I'm not The World's Greatest Cook by any stretch, but I certainly love feeding people and watching them leave here satisfied..... be it a hastily thrown-together tuna salad sandwich, or a bourguignon that I've slaved over for hours, I get the same feeling of satisfaction - regardless of the meal....

..... I suspect that I inherited that "eat well, and I will share with you" gene from my maternal grandfather...... he could whip up a hamburger steak and some pan-fried potatoes that'd make you quiver after each mouthful and beg for more......

.... but the evening ended on a bit of a down-note...... I don't believe that my guests noticed - as a matter of fact, I'm 100% certain - but I did..... and now I'm in a bit of a funk.....

..... after dinner, our conversation flowed..... running the gamut from HAM radios to college football.... and then the subject of hats came up......

.... I've never really been a hat-wearing kind of guy...... sure, if it is sunny out, I'll flop on a boonie or my old Stetson..... and I've been known to throw on a baseball cap if I put the top down on Sylvia..... but in a day-to-day tradition, hell, I haven't worn a hat every single day since I was in the Corps........

.... and that brings me to what I've been thinking about this evening......

..... see, as our after-dinner conversation revolved languidly around hats, I took it upon myself to begin fetching various examples from around the house and modeling them for the general amusement of my Missus and guests....... I slipped on my Glengarry bonnet for a few laughs..... and then my dad's old fedora for a few more...... hat after hat had them wondering what I would round the corner in next......

..... so as I marched around the corner with my old dress blues cover on, I was anxious for their reaction..... and I didn't have to wait long...... they reacted well.... and they thought that it was beautiful..... so much so that they both asked to try it on...... I let them, of course..... and the obligatory comments regarding the tiny size of my noggin came thick and fast as they tried to squeeze into my ancient, faded 7 1/4 cap.....

.... after they'd finished, I flipped it around in my hands so that I could look at the emblem..... and as I looked at the size, shape, and design of it all, I noticed that the straps in the front weren't as snug as they should be.... so I gripped each end of the strap between thumbs and forefingers, and gave them a tug.... and with that slight bit of pressure, each end gave way and fragmented off in my hands...

.... I hid the evidence as it happened, of course...... and then proceeded to take the rest of the cover apart..... removing the studs that held the straps, the emblem, the band and brim from the hoop... and the hoop from the cloth cover...... they could hardly believe that it had so many different components as I disassembled it......

... the whole tangled mess is now sitting on the suede couch here in the blogroom......

.... good god, how is it that I am old enough to have a piece of clothing that I wore AS AN ADULT dry rot?.... never mind, don't answer that..... for that, after all, isn't really the point...... no, the point is that my blues cover is no longer sitting at the top of my hat rack where it belongs.....

.... it's sitting beside me instead in dilapidated pieces........

.... perhaps there is some sort of Great Wisdom that one can glean from this - this loss of a trophy...... this destruction of a bit of history........ or maybe it is a sign that I need to put away old things and search out something new.... I just don't know..... perhaps there is another mountain out there that I need to climb and this was the sign?.......

.... then again, perhaps there is no meaning..... and I just need to buy a replacement......

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Tired......

.... yep, more YouTube......... but hey, it has been one of those kinds of afternoons......

..... sure, Branagh over-acted a bit, yeah..... but still, he had his heart in the right place........

.... actually, I feel more for the poor Herald........ what a shitty job, no?.......

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Memorial....

..... once upon a time way, way back when our Nation was being fledged, a brave man once wrote this:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; 'tis dearness only that gives everything its value.

Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.

.... that man was Thomas Paine.... and the 'crisis' that he was speaking about was the humiliating retreat of Washington's army across the Delaware in late 1776..... and a year later these words would be read aloud to Washington's army as they shuddered in the frozen snow of Valley Forge.....

..... sitting here now, I can not even imagine what it must have been like to have wintered at Valley Forge.... starving, despaired, freezing, whipped, diseased, and tattered...... how hopeless those men must have felt...... and yet they stayed the course.....

... on days like today, I am completely awed by the history of my country..... and by the sacrifices and dedication of the men and women who have protected it from its birth until now..... honestly, I just don't have the words to do them justice......

..... so enjoy your Memorial Day, guys & gals..... and if your evening meal is even HALF as good as mine, y'all will be living The High Life..... and that is just as it should be....

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Weight....

... I just want to take a minute to say thanks to Erica, Teresa, and Kudzu for being so concerned about my lack of bodyweight back when I was 17..... I truly do appreciate y'all's opinions.... and to think that my lithe frame gave you guys cause to worry, well, it just warms my heart......

... but as of right this minute, I'm 35 and weigh an enjoyable 200lbs...... but just to quell all of your worries about me being the world's tiniest Marine back in the day, I will point you all to a post that I put up just over two years ago...... photographic proof that - even at 160lbs - I would not blow away in a strong wind.....

.... still, though, you guys rock...... and Old Cloots finding it in his heart to offer me some of his mustache?...... I am without words, rubberneckers..... the kindness of bloggers knows no bounds.......

.... in other news, it is nearing the 8 O'clock hour here at The Compound..... and seeing as today is April 14th, that means that "The Professionals" is playing soon on Turner Classic Movies...... and it just so happens that "The Professionals" is one of my favorites!...

.... Lancaster, Lee Marvin, automatic weapons, buxom maidens, and whirling dervishes await...... I trust that you all will enjoy a wonderful evening...

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Coyotes.....

..... I finally sat through "Letters From Iwo Jima" today....... and I read each subtitle as quickly as I could and then glanced up to watch the faces of the actors..... it was an excellent and thought provoking film, and I recommend it..... it isn't your usual 'war movie'.... if anything, it is a 'people' movie...... Clint should be proud..... honestly, it is the first film that I have ever watched that was done from such a unique perspective.....

..... as an amateur historian, I've read lots and lots about the 4th Marines taking Iwo Jima.... and as a former Marine, I've known and heard all of the quotes, deeds, and sacrifices that were done there....... as a young Tennessean I listened to my Great Uncle JR talk about landing there with Mike Battery, 3/14th Marines.... and how he was only a few hundred yards away when the flag was raised on Suribachi....... his brother, Rob, was on Peleliu as a Seabee attached to the 1st Marine Division five months before..... thinking back as I write this, there is even an old musty photograph somewhere of Great Uncle JR, Cousin Tommy (who was with 2/26 Marines at Khe Sahn), my Dad (attached to 1/5 via 1st Shore Party at Hue), and me in my dress uniform standing in my parents back yard...... but I digress.......

.... so, yes..... I watched that movie today..... and I guess all that I can really say is this; it is good to remember sometimes that we are all just human..... with our frailties, fears, worries, loves, desires, and experiences, we are much more similar than we are unalike...... duty calls at times, and we diverge, but really, the vast majority of us all are vastly The Same...... sure, there are nuts in every bunch, but we're speaking in sweeping generalizations here........

.... but on a totally unrelated note, I have been invited to go hunting on Tuesday for coyote....... not that shooting a coyote has anything to do with this post, but I thought it important to mention it anyway..... just so y'all knew.......

..... and hey, just in passing I would like to point out that I LOVE that Microsoft spell-check freaks out and doesn't recognize Khe Sahn, Iwo Jima, Suribachi, or Pelelui......... Bill Gates should be ashamed of himself.....

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Young...

... check this out...... long, long ago, people... ole T1G has certainly blossomed since that photo were taken, no?.... yes..... hell, I hardly recognized him myself...... apart from his trademark scowl, that is....

... as for me, I haven't exactly aged too well either.... a bit wide around the midsection nowadays and my head is a bit rounder.... shoulders have a little more bulk..... but seeing as T1G was brave enough to show us a shot of himself as a younger T1G, I'll show my Solidarity In Decrepitude and play along..... here I am in the summer of 1992 preparing to hit Europe wide open..... the years have not been kind since 1992... not by a long shot....

summer_1992_small.jpg

.... I do still make that face quite a lot though...... even after all these years... it really is a happy face....

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Blues....

. On and off for the past week or so, I have been attempting to research an old photograph of my Father. its the only photograph that I have of him (other than the standard pre-graduation shot from bootcamp) where he is wearing his dress blues

.. the whole thing hasnt really turned out as I expected initially I was curious about a piece of his uniform. And after researching the item, I found myself laughing about finding my Father out-of-regs and out-of-uniform ( trust me, there is nothing that a Marine loves more than catching a fellow Marine that 1/8th of an inch out of alignment with his ribbons or badges. Hey, attention to detail is followed as a religion almost) .. and to think that I caught dear ole Dad, well, I laughed.

.but as I did more and more homework, the gotcha moment faded as I realized just exactly what I was looking at when I held that photograph in my hands.

most US Marine uniforms hold only the most basic of information. rank, awards, ribbons, badges, medals, and service stripes. And they usually lack unit patches or devices of occupation. So when you see a Marine in his blues, well, all you see is a Marine. Not a cook, artilleryman, or office pogue

there are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. And those exceptions are what triggered this information-chase and possible discovery mainly, well, the wearing of the French fourragre by the 5th and 6th Marine regiments .. however, before I go any further, I will say that what I have concluded is still up for debate. So if anyone can identify the uniform item differently from my own deducing, then I will be very interested to hear your ideas..

and so, here is the shot that Ive been talking about. behold, my Pa circa 1966.

fourregere_small.jpg

.. alright. for those of you non-Military types, here is what were lookin at. He is a Lance Corporal that qualified as a Rifle Expert. And he wears three ribbons above his shooting badgewhich, from left to right, are as follows.. the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. The fly in the proverbial ointment is the gold-braided fourragre which he is wearing around his left shoulder.. as far as I can figure, the gold braid signifies that he is perhaps an attach to either a general, admiral, or The President ( which he most certainly wasnt as he was a combat engineer)

. any ideas?..... yeah, quite a mystery..

. Ive dismissed this curiosity for years simply assuming that because he was attached to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines during his first tour in Vietnam that this was their fourragre. But after some major groundwork, I find theirs is green and scarlet. This bit of news got the ball of discovery rolling faster than ever.and pieces of information began to fall into place

for one, this photograph was dated 1966. He didnt arrive in Vietnam until January of 67 which means that he hadnt earned the two service medals that he was wearing yet and was only authorized at that time to be wearing the National Defense Medal. Secondly, I know that he qualified as a Sharpshooter in bootcamp and not an Expert and after doing his Combat Engineer training, he went directly to his AIT in California and never re-qualified with his rifle.. so he remained a sharpshooter for his entire time in the military.in short?... well, that aint his shooting badge..

thirdly (and I cannot believe that I overlooked this glaring fact for so long), he was never issued a set of dress blues and he never purchased a pair either since he spent his entire enlistment deployed..and yet, here is this photograph in my hot little hands.

. So after a week of searching and head-scratching and wondering why he was so blatantly out of uniform, it slowly came to me..and it caught me quite unaware..

I made some phonecalls to a few Vietnam-era Marines, and they confirmed much but not all of what I suspected.

. Wearing dungarees everyday, far away from home for the first time, and preparing to enter a combat zone for 13 months, he must have been wondering if hed make it back alive. personal cameras were still expensive items, and I seriously doubt that he could have afforded one on a 1966 Lance Corporals pay.. so what would someone in his situation do to ensure that if he didnt make it back from the war his family would have a nice keepsake?.... a cheap snapshot of him in herringbones taken by a buddy?.... or a quick ride into Oceanside to use one of their backless, anonymous sets of dress blues for a proper momento?...

how incredibly scared and uncertain he must have been being so incredibly far away both mentally and literally from the rolling farmland of eastern Tennessee.I can barely even imagine.

and that is when my original curiosity that had morphed into a laughable attempt to catch my Father (and fellow Marine) in a uniform hiccup slowly led to the realization of what I was really looking at - Quite possibly the last image that his family would ever have of him. A cheap five-dollar portrait from a California street-booth.

. Im still blown away by it all, actually..but I do understand a bit of where he was coming from. And a bit about how hed much rather have his folks remembering him sitting straight, clean, and dressed in a polished uniform instead of sweating, muddy, and bone-tired

. I suppose that Id have done the same as he if Id been in his situation that last minute photo before being sent off to combat.for them to remember me looking handsome and proud..

even if I was out of uniform.

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Alphabetized....

. I have been reading with great pleasure about the new adventure that Holder & Richards son has just set out on and I must say that I am very happy to see that he is passing through Marine Corps boot camp with flying colors in his latest note home he is talking about his time at the rifle range it certainly twangs the memory, folks. especially since Ive laid in the same sand as he and that little experience, among many, many more things will make him my brother in a few weeks..

so, as is my wont these days, Ive been digging through the dusty corridors of my graying-noggin for boot camp stories

last night I found an old James Taylor song that took me straight back to Parris Island and platoon 3072. which, as luck would have it, is the same platoon in 3rd Battalion that Holder & Richards son is in. albeit separated by 17 years.

. It truly is funny what you remember when looking back over the span of nearly two decades..at the time, of course, I was stressed, terrified, exhausted, sore, baked, sweaty, and completely out of my element a scrawny, 17-year old freckled farmboy who probably weighed 145lbs soaking wet & who got sunburned at the drop of a hat.. but at other times like now I can see the humor, fun, frivolity, comradeship, and entertainment of that long ago June, July, and August

I also remember that it was one of the first times that I was absolutely and completely alphabetized.

. I was bunked on the top bunk with a Slabberkorn below me and Ryan and Shaver to my left.... and Smith and Stokes to my right. and a few bunk beds away lay a North Carolina boy named Tart.

. I remember him as having large, round blue-eyes. and a pasty face that looked just that wee bit too swollen for the rest of his body. and full lips that gave his shaved-headed visage an almost cherubic expression.. but what I remember most is the night that I heard him singing..

. We were berthed on the top floor of an old red-brick building across the quarterdeck from the 3rd Bn chowhall.. I had managed to dodge the roaming firewatch, slip down from my rack, and was taking a piss out of the second-story window when I first heard him.. (no one dared to approach the heads after lights out and wed been forced to drink three canteens of water just before bedso hey, you gotta do what you gotta do).

.... Id just eased my y-fronts down and was in mid-flow when he began. And at first, it scared the hell out of me. it was low and soft, but he was in tune. And by the time Id made it back to my rack, I was enthralled by his singing everyone else was asleep except for he, I, and the firewatch, I suppose, and I listened until his song was through and we both fell asleep.

I tracked him down a few years ago via telephone and told him about me hearing him singing. We laughed for a bit, but I think he was slightly embarrassed.. hes now a state trooper somewhere in the wilds of deepest North Carolina, and I guess he has a tough-guy attitude to keep up with.. but for me, I dont see it that way at all actually, looking back now, it was probably one of the most human things that I remember from my little vacation on Parris Island... it was a moment of absolute honesty, terrible longing, and raw hope all wrapped up in a beautiful song. which, at the time, I am amazed that he could muster it even in the alone-time darkness of a 2am squad bay....

. Its a bit like those John Prine lyrics from Donald & Lydia bunk beds, shaved heads, Saturday night.. a warehouse of strangers with 60-watt lights..

.. anyway, I am rambling now. and it is time for me to go and get dinner started.. so I will leave you with the song that Recruit Tart was singing the night that I heard him. A night that gave me a memory a gift - that Ill take with me everywhere I go. forever.

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Replacements.....

. Im off today on a mission of mercy of sorts one of my cousins a Khe Sanh vet has asked me to go on a little field trip out to Philadelphia, Tennessee.

. One of my ancient Grandfathers is buried in a small cemetery there and his headstone is in disrepair he lies on a small hill to the west of the tiny town with his wife and his brother in law.. he and his brother in law served in the same regiment during the War of Northern Agression. Co. B, 5th Tennessee Infantry, USA..

Philadelphia sits on the edge of Monroe and Loudon counties.. and many men from both counties served in the 5th Tennessee.. and they saw much combat in their home state most notably at Missionary Ridge outside Chattanooga and then during the horrific battle of Chickamauga

. So, I am off to take a photo of his tombstone for forwarding to the VA. And with luck, they will send us a replacement.

.. yall have fun today, children.. Im off to Philadelphia

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Git Thar the Fustest With the Mostest

Bejus done had him a whole idear 'bout what to write this mornin', but since he ain't writin' on Donnie's computer page, Bejus done changed his mind.

Shame, too, if'n y'all ask Bejus...that feller what writes a whole lot on his computer page done made Bejus ill today.

Bejus ain't studyin' that, though...this here is where Bejus' Eric's peoples come to read, an' if Bejus ain't 'bout nothin' else, he's 'bout gittin' Eric an' his peoples riled up to where they might stick a knife in Donnie. Ain't no telling what might git that done, but Bejus is here to tell y'all 'bout how bad Donnie done been, an' let Bejus' Eric's peoples make up y'all's minds 'bout what to do. Thass all I'm sayin'.

First off, Donnie ol' goat boy went to work late this mornin'. He ain't dragged his butt out of bed 'til seven o'clock, an' once he did drag it out, he spent 'round two hours washin' it. Ain't got in the road 'til seven thirty, so Bejus knows he ain't got to work 'til eight thirty. Thass a half hour late, an' a half hour extra Bejus had to spend in the fort pretendin' he was still out doin' his rounds at the trailer park. Cain't he'p y'all...thass the very half hour Bejus sneaks around the house tryin' to catch Mrs. Donnie sendin' the young'uns off to school, wearin' her unmentionables. Strike one.

All while he was at work, goat boy ain't answered the phone one time when Bejus called him to tell him bring home some mayyernaise. Bejus' Eric's peoples, Bejus asks y'all: How kin Bejus eat his baloney an' cheese an' mayyernaise sammiches without mayyernaise? Thass right, he cain't. "Jes 'cause goat boy is fat an' don't eat good food no more, ain't no reason Bejus cain't.

Wouldn't bring Bejus no cartons of Dorals back from the PX on the way home neither, said he was tired. He ain't tired, he's sorry. Them PX price Dorals bring Bejus an extra $1.00 per pack down at Social Circle, 'specially from the Criswells.

Don't tell Bobby Criswell, though. Or Luther Nix. Bejus gots a livelihood to look after.

Once he got home, goat boy got straight into the Russian likker them folk make out'n potatoes, an ain't even told Bejus he could have the Icehouses goat boy weren't drinkin'. Selfish, ain't Bejus told y'all?

Here's the worst thang, though: Donnie ain't fixin' to let Eric gaze 'pon Mrs. Donnie's breasteses. Selfish? Y'all bet it is. Ain't enough Bejus hisself gots to sneak around lookin' to get a glimpse, that bad ol' Donnie won't even let his good friend Eric get breastmatized without putting the evil Ranger eye on 'im. That ain't neither fair nor right, is it Bejus' Eric's peoples?

Here's what Bejus' word is for today, y'all. Boycott Donnie's computer page 'til he allows Bejus an' Eric to breastmatize themselves to their heart's content.

Power to Bejus' Eric's people.

Yeah.

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Thankful...

I just spent most of the afternoon from 12:30 to 4pm eating clam chowder and drinking brews with the fine folks down at my local VFW chapter. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

I got the chance to spend about two hours talking with a veteran of our latest conflict who had lost his left leg above the knee. And quite an incredible gentleman he was, too.

anyway, Im freshly home now from my adventure and hankering for some couch time. so yall play nice and have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. Im off to smoke a cigar, sip some Scotch, and count all of the things that I am thankful for which will probably take all evening yes, Im just that damned thankful

and believe it or not, if we look around long enough, we ALL should be.

... oh, and speaking of thankful, I'd like to thank Richmond from over at One For The Road for being my 12,000th commenter... rock on, Richmond... here's your treat......

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Leaving....

to all of those who have served our great nation and to the families who stood behind them at home thank you for your sacrifices..

I wish I could buy each and every one of you a beer and shake your hands.. you men and women make me proud to be an American. your courage and commitment inspires me every single day..

this Veterans Day I want to dedicate to my Great Uncle J.R.. a man that I have always looked up to my entire life.

me_and_jr.jpg

a veteran of Mike Battery, 4th Bn, 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division, he served on Iwo Jima, Tinian, and was wounded on Saipan. And he is one of my few surviving ancestors who served in World War II..

that said, today is a sad and a proud day for me. sad because of so many of my beloved relatives who were vets have passed on but proud because I knew them and their tales. and how much they loved their country and I am proud to have known such wonderful men.

as for me?... I am headed off south today towards Atlanta with The Missus and there I will eat, drink, and be merry among good company. and honestly, well, I think it is a splendid way of enjoying Veterans Day.

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Pride...

Happy Birthday, Devildogs. And heres to 231 more years!....

Semper Fidelis

... here is a repost of what I said last year... and it still holds true today....

.... last year while us USMC vets were celebrating the Birth of our Corps, many of our active duty brothers and sisters were storming the streets of Fallujah... this year too, finds them in harms way doing what Marines do... in Afghanistan and Iraq.. Malaysia and the Horn of Africa... at hundreds of United States Embassies around the world... afloat with MEUs or flying high with a MAW... in garrison at Lejeune, 29 Palms, or Okinawa... or training throughout the World... they are standing tall....

... this is always a strange week for me... with the Birthday of the Corps and Veteran's Day... every year I get blasted with the double-barrel of military service... an overwhelming pride and true sadness at the same time.... this year is no different...

... so Happy 230th Birthday, Marines.... two years ago I wrote this on my blog... and not much has changed since 1775.. well, except for the buttock pinching...

... 228 years ago today, like minded men got together in a bar in Philadelphia. The name of the joint was Tun Tavern, and the year was 1775. After much drinking, political conversation, pinching of the serving wench's buttocks, and a few bar brawls, the gentlemen present created the Marine Corps..

....and Marines around the world continue to follow in the sterling footsteps of their forbearers...


... so with that, thank you, Marines... thank you for doing what you do - and doing it so well...

... I'll cook dinner tonight just as I always do on November 10th... grilled steak and potatoes, just like always.... and just as always, my Wife will have forgotten that today is my birthday.. and then, as she puts the dressing on her salad, she will notice that the table is set for three instead of two... and she'll suddenly realize what today is... we'll talk about Warnick and Lomosad, Lou, Nico, and Miles and Dustin and all of the rest of the crazy jarheads she met through me... and then we'll raise a toast.

... Semper Fi, my mates... may there be a Marine Corps for another 230 years!..

.. and today is the day to truly throw your money at Valour-IT... the Army and Navy have met their targets, but we have not... we may be "The Few".. but we're "The Proud" too...

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Dancin'....

I tell you, some people just aint right. I mean, just when the Marine Team pulls ahead in the Valor-IT Project, the mighty Sgt. Hook (Army Team, of course) starts spreading dirty lies about my beloved Corps!...

. thats correct, ladies and gentlemen Sgt. Hook is telling porkies see, he claims that the Marines were created to provide dancing partners to the Squids for their Saturday night hoedowns. goodness gracious. Everybody knows that this just isnt right. the way I heard it was that the Marines were created to assist the Sailors with the guzzling of their rum rations way, way back in the day. but hey, I could be wrong

as a matter of fact, Id say that there is a fairly high probability.


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Charity...

. The wonderful folks from Valor-IT are ringing the bells again. and just as I have done for the past two years, I have again joined the Marine Corps team. If you can give a dollar or two, it wont be wasted.

... none of us do enough to support our wounded veterans... this is an excellent opportunity...

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Flags....

. I spent yesterday afternoon at a burial of a WWII Marine.. I had never met him, but his name was Ted. I stood with three generations of my family and looked out at the mountains while the preacher worked and the widow sat quietly...

.. Ted had served with my Great Uncle JR on Iwo Jima, Tarawa, and Saipan. Mike Battery, 4th BN, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.. Marine artillerymen that never fired their pieces.. but acted instead as infantry.

I never knew Ted. But I knew that my Great Uncle would be there having made the drive down from Kentucky with is wife.. it was something that I did for him, and for my own conscience.

the widow walked past us at one point before the burial began Great Uncle JR patted her on the back as she slowly moved by leaning on her walker. He was a good man and a good friend, maam, he said to her and once she was a few feet away, he leaned towards me and whispered, Ted always did get all the girls. You should have seen his wife sixty years agoMercy! it was pretty funny...

. Uncle JR looks rough though. He is aging fast and is on dialysis now after his latest heart attack. and for all counts, he will be dead soon too.. but wow, he sure has lived one helluva life.

. Yall should have seen the Honor Guard make such a fuss it was beautiful.. after they finished with the 21-gun salute, the flag folding, and the rest of the ceremony, they got a huge kick out of talking to JR. little did they know that they were not only working the funeral of a fellow Marine. BUT that Marine had been in their same unit and watched the flag-raising on Suribachi and that a SURVIVOR was there among them as well from their same artillery unit?.... they could hardly believe it just as Great Uncle JR could not believe it.. those young Marines were face-to-face with history and Marine Corps legends.

. there is nothing more sacred to a band of Marines than meeting a fellow Jarhead who fought on The Islands during WWII you guys will just have to trust me on that one.. because it is true Uncommon valor was a common virtue, indeed

anyway, I woke up tired this morning. the weather was beautiful for the burial yesterday.. and the bugler did an outstanding job and it was a treat to see all of my Marine-vet family members again..we dont get together nearly enough to suit me.

today?.... well, Im off to sit outside and have lunch. If anyone needs me, Ill be here.

patio_small.jpg

... enjoy your day, rubberneckers.. we only go around once....

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Orange...

today begins the final process of a monumental Labor of Love complicated and chocked with industrial-sized rolls of Red Tape it has been 18 months in the making since my involvement. in reality though, it has been 30+ since something should have been done. but now we are nearing the end.

and so Im off for the day down to Chattanooga, friends and there I will perform my duty as chauffer and Translator of Government Jargon to my Uncle as he visits the VA clinic.

with any luck, this will be the final leg of a long, hard, and tiresome road and I have to tell you, Im pretty damn excited having navigated the Veterans Administration minefield with a modicum of success is quite an achievement.. trust me on that

oh, and in other news, everyones favorite Eric the Rube of You Bitch should be visiting with me this evening once I return whereupon ribs, Scotch, pleasant conversation, and billiards will be enjoyed.

terribly sorry, Anna, dear. well raise a mug towards Germany and wish that you were here.

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Time...

today has been awash in guilty pleasures.. and whats more, itll be finished off with my famous spaghetti bolognaise hey, it doesnt get much better than that around here trust me.

but in reading a few blogs today, I see that North Korea now has newclear weapons.. happy news, no?....

. yeah, well anyway, I spent a bit of time today tossing out old magazines and periodicals that have accumulated around the house here. and I found some absolutely fabulous magazine cover art. one from Military History Magazine and the other from The New Yorker. both of which will probably sue me if they ever find that I have shared their cover art with you darling, smiling people.

so as I sat pondering the great universal wistfulness of it all, I took a meager form of solace in the images that were portrayed. Hey, what can I say?... I do that from time to time.. so join with me, dear reader. and let the mind wander just a teensy bit.

behold a mighty Tuareg warrior (which I have mentioned here a while back) the bane of the Colonial French the master of the desert. man, this picture just speaks to me.. from the slightly disgruntled look on his camels face to the way his left leg is tossed over the beasts neck. the man is just incredible.

taureg_small.jpg

and next, we have King Kong squirting a herd of New Yorkers with a vaguely-banana shaped squirt gun while they gleefully enjoy the deluge. Check it out.

newyorker_small.jpg

so there you have it were all doomed were all gonna die. Or maybe not, I havent decided yet as I have been cleaning weapons this afternoon. but still, there you go three brilliant images for you. three wonderful parallels for you to chew over as you sip your Scotch tonight and enjoy the evening with kith and kin.

a fierce warrior who refused to change, fought brutally, and was eventually quashed. King Kong with a squirt gun and cheering New Yorkers holding their giggling toddlers aloft. and Kim Jong Il with nuclear weapons..

dont look to me for answers, children only questions.. and dont inquire as to how my mind arrived at the strange place it has a place where parallel, politics, societal loss, monsters, apathy, decadence, patriotism, and my choice of yearly periodicals all coalesce into nightmarish hilarity. dont ask, because it just is.

one thing is for sure though I am in need of a serious recharge

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Home...

... Trevor is coming home... Godspeed, Trevor... and thank you for your service....

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Snow....

.... I dreamt last night of Ricardo Montalban... somehow I was transported back in time and into the movie "Battleground"...

.... I shared a foxhole with Van Johnson... and James Whitmore gave me a chew of tobacco....

... my M-1 was hard to disassemble and clean because my hands were so cold....

... Van couldn't sleep, so we ended up talking all night about Ricardo while I cleaned my weapon....

... weird....

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Caribou...

... as Augustus McCrae once said whilst raising a toast in the film masterpiece "Lonesome Dove"... "here's to the sunny frozen slopes of long ago.. " .... and today, well, I could not agree more...

... Adak Island, October 1991.... LCpl Brown and LCpl Warnick out prowling the tundra in search of the ever-elusive (and quite tasty) caribou...

frozen_river_small.jpg

... the quality of the photo leaves a bit to be desired, sure... but hey, it was just a wee bit damp... probably from the condensation of sweat from being stored between an inner layer of fleece and an outer layer of Gore-Tex...

... heh... those were the days...

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Balance...

... because content is woefully lacking here - and I'm not in the mood to (to steal one of Bitterman's terms) beat the weasels, I'm just going to throw up another photo and then hit the patio....

... so here's a little nugget for y'all to chew on for a while... a color shot of my dear ole Dad at the Gia Le Combat Base back in '68... hey, see that twinkle in his eye?... yeah, that was me... of course, he had to wait four more years for me to arrive... but still, I was in there somewhere....

1968_dad_small.jpg

(... by the way.. my Pa is the fella holding the rifle... )

... what I can't get over is the look on his buddy's face... looks a tad nervous, if you ask me... then again, Dad had that effect on some people...

... the really cool thing is how he is balancing the unloaded M-14 on three fingers.... those weapons had great balance...

... y'all have a good night...

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Off....

.... off to the mountains to set two fearless hikers on their trail....

... I'll be back later...

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Bravery...

... all of my life, it seems, I have been surrounded by fearless people.... and in a way, I have never been able to fully understand them.... they have always inspired me, sure... but I have to admit that they scared me just a bit, too.... their seeming ability to be bold in the face of danger or doubt.... but me, myself, well, I've never been fearless.... I have always been the cautious one.....

.... I remember watching my little brother dive off the side of a rock quarry when he was ten years old.... our usual back-country swimming hole... I was fourteen at the time and felt a huge tinge of guilt as he hit the water - having completed a flawless 1 flip.... I floated there - bobbing in the wake that his dive left and surrounded by my cheering friends - and knew that I would never have the courage to do what he had just done....

.. years later while on leave from the Corps, I jumped from the high-dive at the local pool with my hands tied behind me and my feet tied together... surrounded by the community swim team, I demonstrated my newly found skills.... they were impressed, sure... but it was not a show of bravado.... it was merely an example of something which the MCIWS training regimen had given me... I had the confidence of training behind me..... there is a big difference...

... these days I search around me for bravery.... I continually search.... and I find it in the most unusual of places.... waking each day, I look at myself and the people that I surround myself with... I read and watch.....

.... I was wrong when I was a child, you know....

... courage has absolutely nothing to do with being fearless.... it is the exact opposite, in fact.... courage can only really be brought to the surface when you are truly afraid.....

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Monuments...

... feeding time is over now and The Wife is swinging peacefully out back in her hammock... the last time I checked, Ginger was curled up on The Wife's stomach as she read her book... funny, really.... out of the two cats, Fred is the most fearless... and Ginger is spooked by everything from people's voices to rustling leaves... and yet it is Ginger who enjoys the hammock... while Fred won't have anything at all to do with it...

... anyway, I grilled two nice flounder fillets around 6:30... steamed up some potatoes and mashed them... adding in some crushed garlic, bleu cheese, sour cream, and butter... and I even boiled up a few roasting ears just for color.... fish, potatoes, and corn on the cob... now it is time for a gin and tonic....

.... as I was cooking, I couldn't help thinking about the Confederate monument I photographed today... especially the inscription... I mean, I must have passed that thing a thousand times and it never struck me like it did today... right there at eye-level in bold-faced, simple words....

... "MAN WAS NOT BORN TO HIMSELF ALONE BUT TO HIS COUNTRY." ....

... wow... I do believe that reading that today felt like the very first time.... how amazing... one side reading those simple, powerful words... the other side emblazoned with crossed Confederate flags... and rising up above and standing tall atop the plinth, a solitary soldier with rifle and fixed-bayonet...

... man was not born to himself alone... but to his country..... it's still sinking in.... I understand the sentiment and I happen to agree with it... but I can't stop wondering just how many of my generation do not believe in those words and the idea they express...

... farther around the base of the monument, another inscription reads "TO OUR KNOWN AND UNKNOWN CONFEDERATE DEAD." .....

... people talk about the men and women of the WWII era as being the "Greatest Generation"... and who knows, maybe they were... but one thing is a fact.... The Civil War generation had some unbreakable grit too....

... I just hope we still have that grit this generation...

Update: .... here is one of the photographs I took this afternoon...

cleveland_monument_small.jpg

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Boots....

... I did something yesterday that I haven't done in years.... I fell asleep in my combat boots..... many was the time in the far-off past that it was almost impossible to stay awake in them... pushed mentally or physically through training or missions, you'd often find yourself so incredibly tired that you'd fall asleep at the first moment of stillness... taking a ten minute break during a 18 mile road-hump stateside, most men would change their socks and catch a quick nap before being called back into line.... rest was one of the things that was always most needed... food, water, and sleep...

... these days a forced road-march would kill me... my back and knees are already shot from little time I served... and my left shoulder is pretty banged up too.... but I do still wear combat boots when I am battling the back yard.... there are enough creepy crawlies in the grass to make walking barefoot a highly dangerous endeavor... if you stay on the stone path to the patio or stay on the deck, you're fine in bare feet... but anywhere else and boots are needed...

... the boots I wear are old, standard issue leather boots from the 1980s... no vibram sole... no speedlaces... just about as plain as they come... their only real identifying mark is the date of manufacture... it's lightly stamped into the leather on the outside of the boot just around from the highest eyelet.. I had a pair just like them before, but I finally wore them out... gifted to me by Corporal Shaw when he de-mobbed, I wore them for nearly twelve years... re-soled time and time again, the leather uppers just got softer and softer... until finally the leather just gave up and cracked.... I still have them though, they're out in the garage... but the new ones have taken their place...

... I had a hard time tracking them down actually.... evidently the military stopped issuing them back about 1988 and went with speedlaces instead... which was a pity, really... because the speedlaces did suck mightily.... crap leather that was impossible to shine and plastic soles that did nothing to cushion your foot from the road - the boots were horrible....

... but after lots of searching, I finally found them online in an old Army/Navy surplus store in Juneau, Alaska... the salesman remarked over the phone that he only had two pairs left in my size... so naturally, I bought them both... I figure that in ten years when the new pair wears out, it'll be Hell trying to find them again... so it's best just to sit on the second pair until they are needed... good boots are hard to find... and well, I guess I just know what I like...

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Sickened...

... you know, I really, really love it when Donnie gets his knickers in a twist... I really, really do..... excellent post, big guy.... I owe you a beer...

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Units...

... the pile of laundry that three weeks of traveling created is slowly melting down... today should see the end of it.... then the cases can be stowed away for a few more months until the next trip... it seems strange to go through them piece by piece and unpack... finding the random souvenir that you had forgotten you'd purchased... it's true though, the vacation is finally over.... the suitcases are empty to prove it...

... I decided over the holiday that I'm should join the local gun club... so today I'll be making a few phone calls to get that organized... funny, really... I could have sworn that my "joining" days were over... well, evidently not...

... anyway, I have a question for all you military-types out there... I need some help identifying a unit insignia... the photo is circa 1945 and the trooper in question was visiting relatives in Scotland at the time.... any help would be greatly appreciated....

unit_small.jpg

... so, what unit is that?... John?... any guesses?....

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Blossoms...

... reading history books can sometimes be dry... the tales of battles, blunders, or politics are often boiled down to their essentials.. names, dates, general outcome, etc.. and much is left over for the reader to place between the lines... but today I was reminded of one of the most incredible historical descriptions I've ever read....

... this was all triggered by another storm running though today... as I was straightening myself from the flowerbed, I remembered something that I had long ago forgotten...

... the wind picked up and I heard a peal of thunder.. and as I rounded the corner of the house, a stiff breeze hit one of the dogwood trees and knocked every petal off of every bloom in the same instant.... I stood there watching the hundreds of broken flowers dance horizontally towards me and I remembered Shiloh...

... April of 1862... the Confederates charging, regrouping, and charging again through The Peach Orchard.. hundreds of trees fully in bloom... and Union bullets clipping them from the branches as the Confederates came on... wave after wave against the Union defenses until they finally broke....

... what a surreal moment that must have been.... the dead and dying staring skyward... and fighting men struggling forward as the delicate white petals landed all around them... shrapnel, bullets, and the Blooms of Spring....

... you don't often read stuff like that in history books... but when you do, it makes quite an impression....

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Jonah was a pervert....

... as I was reminiscing over breakfast with my guest this morning, our conversation somehow drifted to the subject of vomiting... strange, I know... but perhaps I was a bit overzealous with the parmesan cheese while scrambling the eggs or something... whatever the reason, though, the subject did come up...

.. now, as far as I can recollect through the distant hazy pages of time, I have only ever retched on someone once.... not counting baby stuff when you evacuate both ends without cognizant thought... I'm talking about hurling your guts once you are an adult... I've only ever done that once..

... of course, I have puked on myself many, many times... that, of course, goes without saying... sea-sickness, intestinal bugs, or drunkenness... it's no big deal... be it a burp that plops a chunk on your lap... or a splatter pattern on your suedes while bent at the waist outside the nightclub.. hey, we've all been there...

... but I will never forget the one time I actually imposed my gut-liquid upon another human being... and let me tell you, it was a tense moment... the victim was Drill Instructor Sgt. Day from platoon 3072... our Senior DI's right-hand man...

... a shorter man than myself, I hit him with a hot stream of freshly-tasted tap water in the area between his left ear and his chevrons as he glided past... splash, people, splash... he had just come to a full stop right in front of me as the last of my canteen emptied itself into my neck... and as it rose back up, I totally soaked his Charlie-shirt with three pints of water and chewed bits of lettuce... it was quite disgusting...

... I distinctly remember that he was walking by me in shark-mode too, right to left... and I still can see the dangling plant particles clinging to his three rows of ribbons... it was a real sight, people... I thought I was dead...

... why he didn't knock me back between the bunks and beat the hell out of me, I'll never know.. but for those final three weeks of boot, every one of us puked.... every evening... just like clockwork on those August nights... get on-line.. and chug three canteens of water in under two minutes... it was a doubtless thing.. an unquestioning thing... you did as you were told... an undeniable thing... and no one's body can hold three canteens in two minutes... it just isn't possible...

... hell, maybe that was why he didn't flail on me... it was all just part of the training regimen... and getting hit by some flying vomit was just par for the course... a hazard of being a 3rd BN DI maybe... who knows.... either way, I suppose part of him was impressed that we were all so scared shitless that we'd drink water until we hurled just because he told us to...

... anyway, this is what we talked about at breakfast this morning... charming stuff, to be sure.... and hey, how many people have stories about upchucking onto other people?... much less someone who you think will kill you if you do?...

... see?... never a dull moment around here... not even at a boring breakfast of scrambled eggs and jammed toast...

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Pensacola...

... I received a call from an old buddy the other day that made my year... he and I had served together in Scotland but we'd lost touch over time... he'd even been the last man in the cordon at my wedding and had smacked my Wife in the ass with the sword yelling, "Welcome to the Marine Corps, Mrs. SWG!"... she never has forgiven him for that, by the way....

... but yeah, we ended up going our separate ways... me?... I de-mobbed and slipped quietly into the Scottish countryside and blended with the rest of the peasantry... him?... off to Drill Instructor School and then a few tours as a 3rd Battalion heavy at Parris Island...

... what a hoot it was catching up with him after all these years... and what a nightmare it was imagining him with the power of a Drill Instructor.... talk about making your blood run cold, good God... I know the man and what he is capable of as a mere squad leader... but wearing a Montana Peak and a green belt?... he'd make the Marquis de Sade look like a choirboy...

... people, you should have heard the evil that resided in his cackle as he regaled me with his Parris Island exploits... it was funny and shocking at the same time..

... anyway, our conversation started me down a road this morning... something he had said bubbled back to the surface as I sat here reading.... "Eric," says he with a voice full of seriousness, "It is the best job in the World, and truly, there is nothing like being a Living God to 70 motivated Marine recruits."...

... and he has a point... I remember messing with the heads of the newbies once they arrived at crypto school in Pensacola... fresh from training, they would always get to their room and crash.. thinking they could finally rest.. so one of the gang that had nearly completed school would don the Smokey Bear and go pay them a visit... and let me tell you, it was a LOT of fun to scare the hell out of those guys for a few minutes..

... but sure, after a while, we'd let them in on the joke... hey, what's a little hazing among Brothers in Arms?... heh heh... I have to admit though.. I normally didn't get picked to go on DI detail... I just wasn't mean enough to pull off the act properly... plus, I was a scrawny little cuss and didn't look much older than 14... so it was hard for me to put the fear of God into anyone....

... but, happily for the sake of posterity, a photograph does exist of me in breach of about thirty regulations... it was taken just after I had dug a poor little Pvt nearly to death on the rug in his room... check it out...

di_small.jpg

... here's the bigger version...

.... good times, people.. good times.... notice that the wall-locker is opened?... I have a feeling I had just performed a random "inspection"...

... hey, a little bit of power in the wrong hands can be a bad, bad thing... fortunately, I've always enjoyed being such a tender-hearted guy... otherwise I could have been dangerous....

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Friends...

.. from a Survivor, we have a letter to a Warrior.... go and read it now... I've met her and she's Grade A.... and I wish I could have met Joe... I think we'd have gotten along......

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30mm of fun....

... seeing as I am so predictable, I figured I would break from tradition here and share an email conversation I had yesterday...

... my Brother from Another Mother up in Alaska excitedly sent me this photo with the line. "Oh yeah baby! Now I've got the big gun!"...

cannon_block.jpg


... I was confused.. just as you rubberneckers probably are too...

.. our whacked-out conversation flowed along these lines:

My one-line response back: "... huh?... WTF is that thing?...."

Him: "It's my new cannon of course! When I'm done it's going to look like this:"

cannon_assembled.jpg

My response: "... great bloody hell... you are insane..."

Him: "HA! "Great Bloody Hell" Exactly the response I was wanting!"

... the conversation wandered a bit after that discussing family and such... anyway, this thing is actually made from the barrel off a 30mm GAU cannon.... the barrel came from an old, decomissioned A10.... he'll be launching a 3/4 pound projectile and will burn about 1/4 pound of powder with each shot... good God....

.. and here I was all happy with my new .357 and he goes and buys a 30mm cannon to tow behind his armored car....

... and you guys wonder why I have that Marty Feldman photo up?... that's what you people do to me... I make that exact same face a lot... a lot...

.. on the other hand... I'm really glad he's my friend... I mean, c'mon... how many friends do you have who own their own artillery?...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(6) | TrackBack (1)
» Miasmatic Review links with: Do I count?

Getting even...

... reading Dax's tale this morning, I was dragged back into the mists of my memory... and found lying crumpled amongst the Camel cigarette packets and empty Copenhagen tins, was one of my fondest Military memories... a memory of snuff...

... it was November 1992 and I had been picked to participate in Mountain Training with 45 Commando (Royal Marines)... I wrote a bit about it here a while back, but from a slightly different angle... and here's a pretty cool article about it, if you are curious...

... anyway, those Commandos were a hard bunch... well trained, motivated, and in peak physical condition... me?... I was a scrawny little Tennessean who was in way over his head... and I was truly struggling to hang with those animals... I had pushed myself about as far as I could go... humping equipment up those mountain tracks was old hat to them, but new ground for me... Hell, I was an Intel guy...

... there were quite a few of us US Marines there, though... and we took a fairly large ration of shit from the RMs.. all of us were from non-combat specialties, and they were all ground-pounders... we survived though, and they were impressed...

... one thing that I saw near the summit of one mountain never ceases to inspire me... I saw a young Royal Marine take a pouch of loose tobacco out of his pocket in a driving sleet-storm... roll a cigarette... light it with a match, and smoke it while being pelted with frozen clods of water and forty mile-an-hour winds...

... to this day, that still amazes me... the desire for a smoke just won't be denied, I suppose... not even by an arctic blast...

.... but like I said, I felt for old Dax this morning... see, I had dipped snuff for years before discovering the wonders of smoking, and my body was acclimatized to the effects of the nicotine rush.. plus, my stomach had gotten used to the occasional swallowing of some tobacco juice... or, indeed, an entire chaw gone awry... it was all no big deal... something that probably 75% of all the local rednecks from my community could do... well, on the last day of the training, I was putting in a dip of snuff while being ribbed about looking so miserable, when one of the grunts asked what I was doing... I explained it to him... he was curious and wanted to try it...

... even though I'd been ridden pretty hard, I still didn't hold any ill-will... but the temptation was just too much for me... my heart filled with evil at the thought of teaching this fellow a lesson... still, I tried to explain that he'd get ill if he tried it... and he assured me that if I could do it, then HE could too... heh heh... and with that and a grin, I handed him the can of snuff...

... in less than two minutes, the once proud vision of machismo was literally green around the gills... within five minutes, he was puking up old chunks of our breakfast.. beans and franks, as best I can recall.. I have to hand it to him, though... he never broke ranks... and he never fell out of the yomp... just keep trudging along puking as he went... what a sight he was at the end of the trail... frozen bits of vomit dangling from his unshaven chin... a trail of black, Copenhagen tobacco snaking down his chapped cheek and disappearing down the neck of his gore-tex parka.. shades of green and yellow showing on his face...

... for me, that was a moment I'll remember forever... for him, I'd say it is one that he will never forget... as much as he'd like to try...

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NSA...

... well, I see my old client consumer is in the news this morning.... The NSA... strange, too... they are usually pretty good about keeping out of the papers... below the radar, so to speak... (pun definitely intended)...

... you know, normally I accept that most people are morons and just let it slide... but having rabid television presenters running around like they just "suddenly" heard that NSA has been spying on US Citizens is far, far too stupid, even for me to stomach...

... the NSA is wiretapping telephone calls?!?... wow... really?... no shit?... you complete dumbass... of COURSE they are... and hey, they've been doing it since their inception...

.. there is a reason they refer to them as "spooks", you know...remember the FBI's Carnivore?... what about The Clipper Chip?...

... we've had this stuff for years... or at least stuff like it... if you make an overseas phone call and mention certain catch phrases, you're phone call will be recorded and some pencil-necked Zoomie at Ft. Meade will have to and listen to it to make sure you aren't being subversive... shocked?... then wake up, moron...

... this news story is a fabrication... it is utter bullshit... every President since Truman has thrown funding to NSA to do exactly what is being reported on the news today... this isn't "breaking news"... this is media whoring with one intent only... to smear the current administration.... shamelessly, I might add....

... this is what is stirred up for news the day after successful Iraqi elections, eh?... Fox News reporting on a grammar school principal getting his head shaved and NSA monitoring overseas calls?... mercy..

... see, the NSA is the ultimate political sleeve-card...at any point in the NSA's history, an opposition politician could waddle up to a reporter and whisper "hey, gumshoe... NSA is stealing our civil liberties, and it's all the President's fault."... and the shit would hit the fan... and, of course, it would be partially true... Democrats OR Republicans... it's just a way of twisting Joe Public's view against an administration...

... I'm going back to bed... it's 8:19AM EST and I've already reached dumbass overload..

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Journalism...

... sometimes "documenting" the war isn't what you might think it is... check this out....

I tell them about June 24, 2004, when I documented another car bomb that ripped through an Iraqi police station. After I took the needed photographs, we left the site. On our way back to headquarters, another unit received fire from a mosque. We stopped in the middle of the road, blocking the intersection that led to the mosque. When the firefight seemed to cease, we were ambushed. A white van pulled up in an empty field and several men exited. All carried weapons. One fired an RPG to our direction. As the rocket flew directly toward me, time suspended. I knew I was going to die. My life flashed before my eyes. Just as I lost hope, the RPG landed 10 feet in front of me. It was a dud. And we killed the attackers. Their bodies fell to the earth like tiny trees being knocked down by the wind. Shortly thereafter, we were attacked again. This time, they got away.

... go now, people... and read the whole thing...

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Laughter...

... you know, it's easy to be a cynic.. crippled by self-absorption and the all-consuming power of "Me"... you can really get tangled.. especially after years and years of letting it knot you....

... but sometimes, well, you understand that we're all just human beings...

... thank you, Sgt. Snyder...

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Dumpsters....

... via Jim, I found a post by Two Nervous Dogs about freegans.... and while disgusting, the post struck a chord... as a result, I have an admission... brace yourselves, rubberneckers, I, Eric, have dumpster-dived...

.... relax, people... no, I was never the sterno-drinking wino with the cardboard box in John Sevier Yard... this, you see, is a military tale.....

.... for those of you not in the know, military MREs come with a candy and a dessert... and once upon a time while out near Elliot's Beach during Third Phase at Parris Island, us 3rd BN recruits would each line up and march past a dumpster three times a day.... yes, yes, this is a tale of cruelty.. see, after opening (and before consuming) our MREs... we would stroll past be frog-marched past said dumpster as our DIs barked and howled for us to throw our "pogey bait" away... and we did just that...

.. the result?... every single day, a dumpster - laden with millions of calories of unopened MRE foodstuffs - was taken off to the landfill... oh yeah.. and people wonder why the raccoons on Parris Island are the size of large pitbulls.... Hell, they eat more calories than the recruits....

... anyway, the fact remains, one who is in the military eternally looks on the bright side... that's just the way it is... and during the second week of 3rd phase, I came down with a wonderfully nasty bout of cellulitis on my left heel... (by the way, I still have the scar and it's quite impressive... come to a blogmeet and buy me a beer, and I'll let you touch it!)...

.. sorry, again.. I digress... see, the infection on my doggies culminated in me being given three days of light duty... so, every morning when the company trudged off to stab things with M-16A2's festooned with bayonets, I was left alone back at the hooches... a genuine recipe for mischief, if you can imagine....

.... and it is to you, gentle readers, that I bare my soul.... make my admission of guilt... yes, I have to admit - all these many years after the fact.... that yes, I crawled into the dumpster after everyone left, and collected over fifty pounds of MRE desserts... fruit cake... chocolate chip cake.... peaches... M&Ms... you name it...

... I bet I gained 15 pounds in those three days... and if Sgt. Day ever reads this, I know he will hunt me down and kill me... I hope y'all are happy...

... in retrospect, I was the dumpster-diving, pogey bait-pimp of 3rd Battalion.. and by the time 3rd Phase ended, every recruit within three miles of Elliot's Beach owed me either money or a favor...

... heh.. much like Jesus, I fed the friggin' masses... and not with fish, people... with chocolate and cake... amazing... amazing how one dire, flesh-eating infection ended up fortifying Marine recruits with sugar, flour, and morale....

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(14) | TrackBack (1)
» Shadowscope links with: Always good for a chuckle

To Peace...

... I got a call yesterday from my Cousin... he and his wife had road-tripped down to Parris Island to catch a graduation and he was standing on the edge of the parade deck in front of 1st BN's HQ describing the scene for me.... they didn't know anyone who was graduating... they just knew that those Men were new Marines... Marines likely to be sent into combat in the coming months....

.... during the call, he said that he just felt he should there on Nov 10th and 11th.... he's an old Khe Sanh siege warhorse.. and from his position as a combat vet, knowing what is in store for many of those new brothers was a deeply moving moment... he makes that trip almost every year....

.... with that said, Happy Veteran's Day, vets... and to all the men and women who have worn the uniform, the people of the United States and I owe you a debt of gratitude that can never be fully paid...

... below is an excerpt from a poem hosted by Army Wife... it's one I hadn't seen before and I like it... read the whole thing here...

"A curious boy asks an old soldier
Sitting in front of the grocery store,
"How did you lose your leg?"
And the old soldier is struck with silence,
Or his mind flies away
Because he cannot concentrate it on Gettysburg.
It comes back jocosely
And he says, "A bear bit it off."
And the boy wonders, while the old soldier
Dumbly, feebly lives over
The flashes of guns, the thunder of cannon,
The shrieks of the slain,
And himself lying on the ground,
And the hospital surgeons, the knives,
And the long days in bed.
But if he could describe it all
He would be an artist.
But if he were an artist there would be deeper wounds
Which he could not describe."

.. to all our vets, thank you...

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230 years....

.... last year while us USMC vets were celebrating the Birth of our Corps, many of our active duty brothers and sisters were storming the streets of Fallujah... this year too, finds them in harms way doing what Marines do... in Afghanistan and Iraq.. Malaysia and the Horn of Africa... at hundreds of United States Embassies around the world... afloat with MEUs or flying high with a MAW... in garrison at Lejeune, 29 Palms, or Okinawa... or training throughout the World... they are standing tall....

... this is always a strange week for me... with the Birthday of the Corps and Veteran's Day... every year I get blasted with the double-barrel of military service... an overwhelming pride and true sadness at the same time.... this year is no different...

... so Happy 230th Birthday, Marines.... two years ago I wrote this on my blog... and not much has changed since 1775.. well, except for the buttock pinching...

... 228 years ago today, like minded men got together in a bar in Philadelphia. The name of the joint was Tun Tavern, and the year was 1775. After much drinking, political conversation, pinching of the serving wench's buttocks, and a few bar brawls, the gentlemen present created the Marine Corps..

....and Marines around the world continue to follow in the sterling footsteps of their forbearers...

... so with that, thank you, Marines... thank you for doing what you do - and doing it so well...

... I'll cook dinner tonight just as I always do on November 10th... grilled steak and potatoes, just like always.... and just as always, my Wife will have forgotten that today is my birthday.. and then, as she puts the dressing on her salad, she will notice that the table is set for three instead of two... and she'll suddenly realize what today is... we'll talk about Warnick and Lomosad, Lou, Nico, and Miles and the rest of the crazy jarheads she met through me... and then we'll raise a toast.

... Semper Fi, my mates... may there be a Marine Corps for another 230 years!..

.. and today is the day to truly throw your money at Valour-IT... the Army and Navy have met their targets, but we have not... we may be "The Few".. but we're "The Proud" too...

Others celebrating:

A Swift Kick
Wild Thing
Holly Aho
Drunken Wisdom
Tammi's World
Doc Russia
Barbette
Laughing Wolf
Telebush
Flightpundit
Blackfive
Donald Sensing
Michelle Malkin
Right Equals Might
Brother Bob Baird

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(21) | TrackBack (1)
» Drunken Wisdom links with: Nov. 10, 1775

Homeward bound....

... back in June of 2004, I posted my Cousin's take on the mobilization of our local National Guard unit - the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment - as it began the trip down for training in Mississippi.... if you haven't read it, you probably should... he's a big, big man... and watching those men and women set off into the unknown broke him down....

... the post itself became a message board of sorts... wives, brothers, and sweethearts leaving messages to their servicemen in the comments... and of all the crazy comments left on this blog in the past two+ years, those are some of the most touching I have ever read.... and some of the most meaningful...

.... in November of last year, those wonderful troops - our brothers, sisters, teachers, neighbors, and friends - were sent to service in northeastern Iraq... all of them sacrificed on our behalf... and ten of them gave their lives..

... today, the first group arrived back into the welcoming arms of family and friends... in small towns and big towns across the state... Knoxville, Lafayette, Etowah, Nashville... Monteagle, Gordonsville, and Jellico...

... more will be arriving over the next few weeks... and all of our citizen soldiers should be back in these glorious, Autumn-decorated hills in time for Thanksgiving dinner...

... a Thanksgiving, indeed...

... you men and women of the 278th have made a difference in the lives of countless people... and we, your neighbors, are glad you're back...

... welcome home, 278th... welcome home...

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Attention, Marines....

... listen up, comrades... I have an announcement from the Mother Ship... Aho is down.. say again... Aho is DOWN.. now, this does not mean that we're having a hoedown.. nor does it mean that a woman of ill repute has fallen... I say again... Holly Aho's website is down... heh heh... sorry, Holly, I couldn't resist.... evidently all this extra traffic from brazzilions of donators has munched her server... but she's in the process of getting it fixed...

... so, while the Army and Navy are marching forward, our jarhead efforts are temporarily offline... but have no fear... if you haven't donated yet, head over to the Valour-IT main site and throw them some cash...
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.. out...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(2) | TrackBack (1)
» Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.. links with: Snerk! Donnie and Eric will approve.

Up, Vets!...

... break out that moldy old money, Jarheads.... and head over to Holly Aho's website to donate for a good cause.. Valour-IT... our veterans have done so much for us, it's time to give a little back...

.. and to add to the bloggy fun, there is a bit of competition going between Services... trying to see who can raise the most money... and you guys know how it works... us Marines are expected to do more with less.. so, if you are a former Marine, get over there and throw some money in the USMC pot... and if you are as yet unaffiliated, forget the Zoomies, Squids, and Doggies... you know you want to be on our side...

.. hat tip: Blackfive...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(5) | TrackBack (2)
» Soldiers' Angels Germany links with: Project Valour-IT Fundraising Competition, Day 2
» from Jhony links with: :-)

Blood...

... who can you trust these days?... no, really... think about it... we live in a world where, for the most part, if someone has a white coat, a name strip, badge, or a gun, we sit down and listen.. but watch out, people... that's a trained outlook... usually by our parents who, bless them, were trying to create in us fine members of society... little did they know how we'd all turn out... or that most of the authority figures we look to are just as perverse, fetid, and scoundrelish as WE are....

... yeah, recently I've been broke from sucking eggs... and when the realization hit, I was reminded of a bloodletting incident from long, long ago...

... I was 22 years old and finishing my tour in the Corps... a five year vet who had enjoyed a blast of a time wearing the uniform for Uncle Sam... trotting the Globe and wearing the Anchor, so to speak...

... anyway, I had been called forward to my exit physical.. a battery of exams, proddings, and orfice-lookings that ensured I was clean and healthy enough after my worldwide sojourn to actively get back home and pound Miss Emma Jane Hometown without fear of giving her an exotic STD or plague...

... I remember distinctly walking up to the clean, shiny desk at the base hospital and handing my paperwork to a regal looking female corpsman... late 30s and fine... and hoping that she would be gentle with me.... and I was heartened when she pointed to a room over my shoulder and instructed me to visit it and strip to the waist... but, alas, that singular mental image that played in my mind as I un-did buttons was the only fun I had that day... as I slipped off my tee-shirt and imagined her taking my pulse, my fantasy was shattered by a geeky wisp of a man who couldn't have been more than 14...

... crestfallen?... sure... but I knew, after all, that I was there to get stuff done... and after all, this man wore the whites of a corpsman.. a trusted soul.. every Marine's best friend and most precious being... I knew, deep, deep down, that I was in the hands of My Keeper...

... he read my chart and took my blood pressure as we made small talk... he asked me about where all I had been.. I asked him about the Latin Goddess he had to work with everyday... sickroom banter, I suppose.... the normal things you talk about when someone is preparing to inspect you as never before... hell, I was almost relaxed when he broke out the needle for collecting blood....

... now, I'm no fan of needles... but I ain't scared of them either... all servicemen were forced to give blood at every drive and I had done it a million times over the past years.. I suppose the old adage "the life you save might just be your own" was more true in the case of on-base blood drives... still, I flinched just a little when the corpsman slid the needle into my arm... unlike the previous million pricks, this one hurt.. bad.. he wiggled it... moved it side to side once it was in the vein....

... I said nothing, though... I just watched on as he threaded the vial onto the needle and the blood began to fill it... he was, after all, a professional... just doing his job...

.. once the first vial was filled, he twisted it off.. and not in a gentle way... I was beginning to get pissed... "just one more vial, Corporal", he said.... fuck me... I can put up with ANYTHING for five minutes, I thought.... and he roughly put on the second vial....

... the blood was flowing well... he was holding the filling vial with one hand and writing with the other... when suddenly, and unearthly pop was heard.... FFFWWOOAAAAAPPP!... the seal on the vial had failed and a fine mist of my precious blood exploded from the vial... the whole room was covered... him... me... the fucking ceiling....

... to say I was livid would be an understatement.... I was in pain, enraged, and drenched in my own blood...

... "I am SO sorry!", he blubbed as he wiped my red sheen off of his eyeglasses... "What the FUCK are you DOING, you ASSHOLE?" was my honest inquiry...

... "I'm sorry, I'm sorry... this has never happened before... I didn't mean to hurt you... you are only my second patient, and..."...

... breaking him off, I screamed.. "What did you say?... WHAT?... you are a corpsman, for chrissakes!.."...

.... he shifted his eyes from mine to the floor... "actually, I'm from admin.. they gave me a class yesterday on how to take blood and I've only been here a day..."....

... just perfect, eh?... a staff shortage had resulted in me putting the ultimate faith in a medical uniform stuffed with an office pogue... just because he wore the uniform, I trusted him implicitly....

... I don't want to sound cynical, but that experience changed me... see, uniforms are like road signs.. if one says "Stop", you stop... they are to be respected... but don't put all your faith in them either... if one says "bare your vein, brother".. ask for references before sheeping right up to the table and whipping your shirt off..

... blind faith is just that - blind... trust and respect are jewels to be earned...

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On patrol...

... Ma Deuce takes us with him... good, good stuff....

These soldiers are eager to get to work, though, enthusiastic to be on a mission. I see hope in them, hope that they might make a difference, hope they might make their country safer, hope that they might keep their children from being murdered in the streets by radical factions. Enthusiasim they have, training and equipment they are recieving, and more often than not, a baptism by fire for a new army they have had, for they fall under attack far more than the Coalition forces.

... read the rest... if you get a feeling for anything, it is of Hope....

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Retreat and remembering

Today was the day we took time to remember Sept. 11. It seemed more appropriate on a workday rather than a Sunday. For most of us it was our work or school day that came to a halt four years ago. I remember rushing to a meeting in the city and seeing the traffic signs change from travel times to

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Four years...

... remember...

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Gen. Lane.....

... I met the Wife for lunch yesterday at a nice Mexican restaurant in Athens... it's an interesting place... all decked out in Aztec murals... nice bar area... good food... we quite often eat there...

... anyway, as I was waiting for her to arrive, I sat at a table by myself and watched the traffic pass... and almost by accident, a waving flag caught my attention... a Baptist flag, I believe.. although my expertise in religious standards is far from remarkable... and below the outstretched banner was a drooped flag which I could not make out... behind the flagpole, a large stand of hardwood trees stood... funny, I had never noticed it before in all the years of living here...

... after a while, the Wife arrived and we placed our orders... I mentioned to her that I had noticed the flags, and I pointed them out in the distance... when we looked again, the second flag was now standing out... it was a civil war battle flag.. I thought it strange that in all the years of researching local history, I had never heard or read about a CSA graveyard tucked away in town... we immediately decided to investigate after the meal..

... well, we made a good decision... after driving across the road and climbing a small rise on foot, we arrived at a freshly mown clearing surrounded by ancient oaks.. two or three of which were probably 10 feet thick... and lying in the shade they provided was the whole Lane crowd... General Lane, CSA... his wife and children... and many unmarked stones which were probably servants or slaves...

... we took our time and read each stone... the dates proving that some had died young when the "General" had been a "Colonel"... daughters and their husbands buried side by side... we walked the entire length of the small copse... and when we reached the back side where the woods met a hay field, we stopped and turned around... you could see the tranquility of the place... even though it was only yards from a busy highway... I suppose the fact that it was on a hill kept most of the modern sounds from reaching into the trees... it was a very strange feeling to stand in such a place full of quiet and still be able to watch big rigs thunder by on I-75 and hear nothing but the sound of a hawk swapping a battle cry with an angry blue jay...

... once we got back home, I immediately tried to look up General Lane in "Generals in Gray", but he wasn't listed.... but he was being taken care of.... fresh flags of both Church and Nation were proudly flying over his grave... the grass was neatly being kept.... someone, and we wondered who, had certainly not forgotten General Lane... even with all these years past...

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..care package...

.. cough up some ideas, people... I'm fresh out.... a week or so ago, Maeve from Bartender, Another Round told me a tale of a homesick Tennessean overseas in the military... evidently, he was craving things from here in God's Country... well, I jumped at the chance to help him out....

... the problem is, after a week of shopping, I've run out of ideas... here's what I have piled on my kitchen counter so far:...

a box of Quaker instant cheese'n'ham grits..
two boxes of assorted chewy granola bars...
a pair of wrap-around sunglasses...
a box of baby wipes....
a gigantic tube of SPF 30 sweatproof sunblock...
two tubes of chapstick with University of Tennessee's logo on them..
a box of assorted Southern Home's instant oatmeal...
a box of ziplock 24oz sealable plastic bags...
four ziplock 1qt microwavable bowls...
a 60 minute telephone calling card...
a 24 shot disposable Kodak camera...
two SEC football magazines...
a large squirt bottle of "liquid bandage"
and a box of Little Debbie oatmeal snack cakes... because, well... nothing says The South like Little Debbie snack cakes...

... yeah, it's truly a varied mix.. but that's what happens when someone as eclectic as me goes shopping... sure, the plastic bags and bowls are unorthodox, but very useful... very good for waterproofing/dustproofing stuff...

.. anyway, I will be sending all this stuff off to his wife in Miami later in the week... the question is... what else can I send?.. c'mon people... give me some ideas..

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(17) | TrackBack (1)
» basil's blog links with: Lunch: 7/19/05

London...

... the dawn came with a slow drizzle of rain here in Tennessee... and news that the World has been attacked again... my Wife woke me up around 4am this morning with the news of bombs rocking her Nation... phone calls were made, emails sent, and we've been watching the television all morning... as reprehensive and morally corrupt the cowardly attacks were, we both sat viewing the events as they unfolded with an aching realization... it could have been much, much worse...

... my heart goes out to all of the victims of this latest barbarity...

... on BBC America, Condoleeza Rice was asked by a British reporter if she thought these attacks were a result of "the deeply unpopular war in Iraq that the British are involved in"... she responded by saying that the attacks on 9/11 were not the result of an invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq... and she pointed out the salient fact.... a fact that we had all better realize.. and the sooner, the better..

... "this is a war of ideals"...

... this is a war of Civilization against Barbarity.. all civilized nations are targets... the scum who perpetrate such actions as this don't want political change.. they want a New World Order.. they want to bend you to their will or behead you...

... in case any of you are mistaken, this is a war for the survival of our way of life... there is no point in trying to deny it... the theory has been proved time and time again... these people can not be reasoned with... and they cannot be placated except with capitulation... today in London, another exclamation point has been added to the old sentence...

... It is either us, or them...

Blackfive updates with "A Defiant Britain"...

and WitNit has a great collection of links..

Instapundit has a huge collection as well...

Everyday Stranger shares her views as an American working in London...

The Maximum Leader quotes Churchill and has more links..

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(2) | TrackBack (3)
» .:.WitNit.:. links with: The Cowards and the Heroes
» Boudicca's Voice links with: A Little Perspective
» Gut Rumbles links with: it's all over the place

Freedom....

... as is my idiom, I shall wish you all a happy Independence Day by harking you back to the freedom fighters of antiquity... in particular, The Declaration of Arbroath... a fiery document signed in 1320... and many say, a document which inspired our Founding Fathers to pen the Declaration of Independence in 1776... regardless, it is worth a look... here is a selection from the text...

For as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself

... thus endeth today's history lesson... celebrate your Freedom, people... and happy 229th birthday, America... may you have many, many happy returns...

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On Service...

... Matty - of Blackfive fame, has just watched the odometer on his blog click past the 2 year mark... I've watched his blog grow and morph from a collection of military stories... into a information outlet and rallying point for troops (and families) trying to get the real skinny on what's happening overseas... it's been quite a ride...

... having said that, though.. I have had the pleasure of drinking with meeting Blackfive in person... heh heh... and as evidenced by the photo below, he and I really enjoyed ourselves... I would, however, like to point out that the tab was for 15 drinks... and as there were two of us drinking.. and 15 is not traditionally divisible by 2... the logical conclusion is that I out-drank the poor paratrooper... hey, what?... everyone needs a claim-to-fame...

the_tab.jpg

... so kudos, friend... congratulations on two years in the saddle.. may Blackfive ride on for years to come...

... oh, and the next time you want to hit Le Colonial and drain their Scotch closet, just give me a yell...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(4)
» BLACKFIVE links with: Bad Example Turns Two

Paul...

... last Wednesday, my cousin brought an old Randall Knife over... it was scratched and had a few teeth missing, but still in good shape... he handed it to me with reverence... the brass studs of the leather sheath were green with tarnish... he pointed to the tip and noted the slight chip from the poured stainless steel blade... "me and Paul broke that off opening a case of c-rations one time", he said as I reached out.... I took hold of the knife and looked at the details of it... probably worth about 1,500 bucks... after all, vintage Randalls are scarce.... they are classic pieces of cutlery... and genuine works of art.... but this one was different, though....it had a story...

... purchased by a loving Father for a young Marine, it traveled to Southeast Asia in 1966... it made the long trek back stateside in '67... and found itself at the siege of Khe Sanh in '68 strapped to the leg of a surrounded young man....

... late in the siege, my cousin's friend had been called out into the chaos of a mortar barrage.... three C-130s had just dumped their cargo via quickline and touch-n-go, and the young heavy equipment operator was given the word... mount your vehicle and, under fire, secure the ammo crates from the runway to the dump.. the Vietnamese mortarmen would always light up the landing zone when the slow movers started coming in with cargo...

... but this had been nothing new to the Corporal... he'd done it many times in the past... picking up the broken and scattered pallets and stacking then neatly in the ammo dump.. only to return to the runway for one more trip.. this time, however, one more trip was all that he had in him... just as he was leaving the dump, a mortar exploded nearby.. shrapnel punctured a lung and tossed him off of his forklift and against the sand-filled 55 gallon drums that ringed the dump..... and there he lay... no one knew he was wounded... and no one came for him until after the attack had lifted... by then, it was too late.. and there, he died....

... he had shared a bunker with my cousin, and they had become fast friends.. the kind that can only be made by enduring combat, I suppose...sharing meager meals, patrols, and guard duty, the men of the Engineers and the Shore Party were a tightly knit group.. as are all men who have bled and strove together...

... an hour or so later, my cousin went out to find his friend... he found him encircled by corpsmen who were cursing... fearless, they had always been, but in Paul's case, they arrived helpless...

... later that day, the call came to the bunker to secure Paul's equipment and personal gear for shipment back to the World... fearing that his friend's pride and joy would fall into the hands of a REMF, my cousin took Paul's Randall and put it on his hip... he swore he'd make sure it made it home and into the hands of the Father that had purchased it for a son...

... late in 1969, he took the weapon to the homestead of Paul's family and offered them the knife... it had been Paul's.. and he had died wearing it..... but the Father did something unexpected... he looked my cousin in the eyes and told him to keep it... he had been Paul's closest friend in combat... and the knife should forever remain in the hands of a Marine and Friend who knew Paul so well....

... last Wednesday, Paul's knife was handed to me... I was to arrange for restoration of the icon by my Gunsmith... a cleaning of the scabbard.. a grinding away of the harsh marks cast upon it by the abuse of combat... well today, the Randall arrived back gleaming.. and tomorrow, my cousin will be here to collect it... but right now, I can't stop looking at it and thinking about how that day in 1968 has worked its way into my life.... you know, that knife is not worth 1,500 bucks.... that knife is priceless... and I am honored to have been entrusted to care for it...

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Memorial Day...

... well, I am set for another day of loafing... this time, however, I have a mission... Memorial Day weekend is upon us, and myself, my Cousin, and my Uncle will be driving through the hinterlands of three counties today placing flags on the graves of veterans.. the Civil War... WW I and II... Korea and Vietnam... McMinn, Monroe, and Loudon counties... our relatives may have roamed far and wide, but they always made it back home... either to be interred, or to continue their lives with their families...

.. my traveling companions today are both Vietnam vets... a Marine who served at Khe Sanh... and a 173rd Airborne doggie... great fellas, both of them... combat veterans who've both distinguished themselves on the battlefield... it'll be a unique honor to chauffer those two crusty gentlemen today...

... Memorial Day isn't just for remembering the fallen.. it is for the casualties as well... and in one way or another, every combat veteran is a casualty of war... we've got 200 flags to place, and an entire day to do it in...

... by the way, if you'd like to do something for the troops this Memorial Day, Blackfive has some great links to some worthy websites..

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(5)
» phin's blog links with: Memorial Day

Firepower...

... you know, maybe I missed it, but I've been expecting some of the big dogs to tell us about the new toys being developed in Idaho... specifically, the CheyTac M200 Intervention Sniper Rifle... firing a .408 round... so, what gives, guys?...

... a little birdie tells me that this puppy is taking out targets at 2400 yards.. now, for those of you who don't understand distance, that is over TWICE as far as Marine snipers in Fallujah - armed with the trusty M40A3 chambered in 7.62mm - have bagged kills... from what I can gather, the longest confirmed popping of a bad guy in Iraq was at 1050 yards...

... some friends in country have sparked that a few of the M200's have started circulating with the Jarheads via Special Operations Command...

... anyone else heard of this?.. I mean, c'mon... even as an old Marine, 2400 yards just boggles my little mind...

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doc Russia

... I was just over at Miss Cat's blog where I am attempting to guest post for her... so, as you do, I was crusing her blogroll... what can I say?.... I just found this, and it is an incredible post... and doc Russisa, dude, I feel ya, Brother...

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May the 5th...

.. does anyone else find it strange that The History Channel has an episode dedicated to the USA's kick-ass victory over the Mexican Army at Palo Alto on the anniversary of Cinco de Mayo?...

... no?... heh... that's gotta be like playing "The Battle of New Orleans" from the peanut gallery while Queen Elizabeth II is reviewing troops or something.. heh heh...

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Games..

... for some reason, the humor that Adam molded together in this post reminded me of a time waaaaay back...

... once upon a time, my CO was cracking down on the physical fitness training us jarheads had been doing.... our previous commander had allowed us to work out in any form we wanted.... so, we'd invariably break off into small groups of 3 to 5, and dream up some game to play... Combat Basketball was always my favorite... 782 gear, flak vests, helmet, boots, and cammies... we'd beat the living Hell out of each other and never score more than 10 points in an hour... great times.... others would be going for runs.. playing flag football... culvert/ditch line races... lifting weights... we were a pretty mixed bag of big guys & scrawny guys.. and we were all slightly skewed..

... but we had a high time, people... until one of the guys got his jaw broken while leaping for a rebound during a particularly feisty game of Combat Basketball... heh.. a Kevlar to the chin will lay you low... indeed, he was hammered... anyway, once the CO found out, he decided to enforce his will... from now on, we'd be exercising as a group.. under the ever-watchful eye of our fearless leader... no more injuries on his watch... at least that was his logic...

... at the time, we worked out three times a week.... one Monday, our Captain arrived and took charge.. we'd play flag football... fine... I hated playing football... anyway, we got stuck into the game, and were having a blast... until Sgt. Gerard bodyslammed Cpl Clay... two mighty titans clashed... Gerard went for the flag, and Clay decided to pull a Jonah Lomu on him and run right over his ass... Gerard reacted in a second.. gripped his waist, and tossed Clay right over his left shoulder... he hit the ground like a sack of potatoes and was slow getting up... dinged up his elbow and cracked two ribs, he did... all of us onlookers made mental notes not to try strong-arming Sgt. Gerard...

... PT was cancelled for the rest of the day... result?.. one broken Marine...

... so, Wednesday rolls around... once again, our Captain arrives and tells us that we are going to do a cross country run through the hills... fine... I hated running too... so off we go... about two miles into our three, a LCpl twists his ankle badly in the tundra... I got called out to help carry his broken ass to the infirmary... turns out he was on crutches for the next three weeks...

... scratch up another notch on the counting stick... one more broken Marine...

... this is where it gets weird... by now, our CO was pissed... it seemed that every time he turned around, one of his troops was getting sent to sick call.. so, he had a clever idea... as punishment, all of us were forced into the gym to play duck-duck-goose... after all, NO ONE ever got hurt playing duck-duck-goose..

... we formed ourselves - cross-legged - into a large circle on the hardwood floor... it started out alright.. but 10 minutes into our "punishment", it was my buddy Lomo's turn... he was a little Filipino guy... fast as a snake... he started making his rounds behind us... patting us on the heads... duck... duck... duck.... and then he got to The Big Weightlifting Lance Corporal.. in a split second, he bashed him in the noggin, yelled "GOOSE", and took off like a shot... that big weightlifter nearly jumped out of his skin... in an explosion of force, he was suddenly upright.. honestly, I have never seen anyone that big move that fast... but just as he reached his full height, he screamed in pain and fell to his knees... he'd twisted his back from the sudden exertion, and was frozen in muscular spasms...

... third day of "Company PT", and a third broken Marine...

... our commander was furious... how in the HELL can anyone get hurt playing duck-duck-goose?!?... he fumed and ranted for a while... questioning our intelligence and breeding... and then our Senior Enlisted took him aside... when they came back to the formation, we were told that there would be no more "Company PT".. instead, it had been decided that we should all work out in our own ways... just as it had been before...

... I still don't know why he did that... maybe he figured that we were going to get hurt regardless... and it would be better if he wasn't the one in charge... one thing is for sure... when you play hard, people get hurt.. but that is just all part of life.. life in the slow lane doesn't mean it is any less dangerous than a life spent in the fast lane... so, if you are going to get hurt anyway, why not choose the excitement of the rough stuff?..

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Being First...

... thunder jarred me awake this morning around 9:30... I opened the curtains to see quite a spectacle.. Mother Nature was trying her best to beat the blooms off the budding dogwood trees.. April showers, indeed.... it looks like it is going to be one of those days... perfect for drinking coffee and watching the rain wash away the pollen-dust.. sure, we may lose the blooms, but the pollen will be gone too... a fair trade as far as I am concerned...

... anyway, while making tracks yesterday, I recounted a tale of USMC sick call that I had read the other day... my companion and I could definitely relate.. although I never actually tried to squirm out of mess duty, I have to admire the resourcefulness of those two young Marines... but sometimes, going first is not a good thing... and I am sure there is a life-lesson in there somewhere...

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Marines everywhere....

... Yesterday morning, I headed out at the crack of dawn with my 2nd Cousin to visit my Great Uncle just outside Paducah, Kentucky... near where the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers meet... 5 and a half hours later, we were pulling into his driveway.. he is a veteran of Siapan, Tinian, Roi Namur, and Iwo Jima... an artilleryman with Mike Battery, 14 Regiment, 4th Marine Division.. wounded on Siapan and Iwo, he is one of a fine breed... My roadtrip partner is a beer-drinking 26th Marines vet.. Khe Sahn, Operation Hastings.. 3rd Shore Party during the Vietnam War.. a damn fine guy to be in a car with for nearly 12 hours...

... once in Kentucky, we had lunch, talked genealogy, listened to tales of a childhood in depression-era Eastern Tennessee, the current War, and politics... three hours came and went in the blink of an eye... and suddenly it was time to go....

... halfway home, we stopped at a fast-food joint for a burger, and ran into a young Marine just back from Iraq... a crew chief on a HMM Squadron from Miramar... we listened to him talk of riding CH-53s through the rough and tumble of the past year....

... four generations of old jarheads... WWII... Vietnam... GWI... and GWII.. related in various ways, but all of us Brothers...

... I dragged myself home around 10:30 last night, and fell into bed... it was a very long day, but worth every second...

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A Letter...

April 17th, 1902
Sweetwater, Tennessee

My dearest Grandson,

Your dear Mother writes to me with news of your studies in school. She says that you want to know what I did in the war, and what I remember. It troubles me slightly to recall back to those days, but I feel that I should tell you, however painful, what I remember. I do this not so much for myself as I do for you.

I really can't explain it to you, boy. Some things are without parallel in these mortal lives of ours. Your mother says that she thinks you need something, but I am afraid that the something you are a'needing ain't in my story. You ask me what I did in this past war, and I don't know where to start. I really don't. However, I can tell you this - and you can take it in any way you see fit. I only fired my musket twicet. Both times happened on the same day. For that matter, they both were fired off within less than a minute, and I never fired my musket again. Not during the whole rest of the war. There, what do you think of that? Not exactly what you expected, eh son?

I had been picked up in Virginia shortly after my 15th birthday by a wily Captain from Mr. Longstreet's Corps. His name was Coltrane. I had been fishing by a small creek when two fellows grabbed me and drug me off to join the Army. Mr. Coltrane and Mr. Fitch. They taught me to drill while on the march, and they gave me a gun. A fine, shiny gun. They taught me how to clean it, load it, and fire it. I did as I was told. As soon as I could, I wrote to Momma and told her I had joined the Army.

But I know you are not interested in that. You want to know what happened on that famous day, and I really can't blame you. I'll bet your history books are just filled to the brim with tales of those three days. History books always are. Still, I probably have a different story than what you have read.

I first remember a very handsome fellow yelling for us to keep in line. Stay in step. We marched out into an open field and Federal cannons began firing at us. It didn't matter, though. All of our eyes and ears were focused on our Officer. The whole time those shells were falling, we just kept listening to what he was saying. Form Left. Align Right. Stay Abreast. Left Oblique. And so on, and so on. We were so engrossed with trying to stay in line that we didn't have time to be afraid. Besides, we knew that the bullet had not yet been cast that could cut us down. With that, we kept on marchin right up the middle of that field.

After a good while, we got to a small wooden fence. This was bad news to us all, and at first we tried to tear down the railings. We did this until our Officer yelled for us to just climb it. This was the first time that some of us realized that we were not as bulletproof as we had originally imagined. About half of our Company made it across that little, rickety fence alive. Some of us began to get very scared, and we all noticed that the cannons had stopped shooting. This too, was bad news since it meant we were now within shot of the Yankee rifles.

We formed our ranks as they shot at us, and our Officer - Lt. Higgins from Alabama - gave us the order to fire a volley and reload. Some of the boys were not scared and were fighting mad instead. They hollered like wild men when Mr. Higgins gave the order to fire. After that, we advanced about 15 more feet, and were told to fire again. I did so with much trepidation as many of my friends had either been killed or shot clean through. But Lt. Higgins was in charge and we all trusted him and felt that he would not let anything bad happen to us.

I had just finished reloading when the order to fix bayonets was given. We fixed them while marching, and were told to charge as soon as the last man had fitted his to his rifle. All this time, son, we were less than 50 yards from the Yankees and being shot at the whole time.

Most of us were out of breath from pure excitement and fear by the time we tangled with them Yankees at the stone wall. I was scared to death, and knew that I was fighting for my life right then and there. Lt. Higgins was waving his sword over his head and yelling one minute, and was shot through the neck the next. I reached up to grab him as he fell, but he pushed me to the ground and I hit my head on the wall. When I woke up, the noise of a single human being could not be heard. Instead, the cannons had begun to fire again. I didn't know what to do, so I just lay there in that pile of my dead friends. I think I cried, but I really can't remember. I remember the taste of Lt. Higgins's blood that had ran down into the corner of my mouth. It was a metallic taste.

Every time one of those cannons roared, the ground would shake and rattle. My head felt like it would explode as each concussion re-arranged the piled corpses at the base of the wall. I wish I had been able to burrow straight down to China to get away from those blasts, but I couldn't. I just lay there not knowing what to do. And then I heard the cannons stop. I thought that God had heard my wishes, but the very next second, I heard the click clack sound of men running with muskets. I knew what was about to happen, and I was powerless. I was frozen in fear.

Off in the distance, I could hear the yelps and cheers of my fellow Countrymen. This meant that they must be nearing the rail fence I have mentioned to you earlier. This was just as bad of a mess for them as it had been for us.

I could go on, my dear Grandson, but I think you understand me. I stayed by that wall covered in by my friends until darkness fell. The Yankees had sent word that we could pick up our dead and wounded, and I was found by a fellow from Texas. Yes, that is right. I was found without a wound on me at the foot of the stone wall on Cemetery Ridge.

No one ever called me a coward. I did not run from the fight. It just seems that once I woke up, I was too scared to figure out what to do. Later that night, Mr. Pickett heard of my situation, and called me to his tent. I explained to him how I had come to join the Army, and how I had come to be alive at the top of The Ridge, and he cried. I think he had been crying already that day, but I do not know for sure.

The next day, I was led to the rear of the Army lines, and told to go home. I was given a piece of paper that was signed by Mr. Longstreet that said I should be given free and safe passage back to Hickman, Virginia. Two weeks later, I was home in the field with Momma again. After the war, we moved down here to Tennessee and have continued farming. I met your Grandmother, and we'll be here for the rest of our lives.

I am not sure if this story is what you wanted to hear. And I really do not know what you are reading in your books. In the end, you asked my story, and I have told it. I hope this helps you in some small way.

Keep up the good work in your studies, and write to me often.

Your loving Grandfather,

Jackson Petty

UPDATE: This is fiction written by me.. Jackson Petty is a real ancestor, but he was NOT at Gettysburg... I was just trying to write in an olde style...

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Remembrance...

... in my previous life, I worked within the Electronic Intelligence community... from 1990 to 1995, we helped to keep tabs on bad guys around the world... SIGINT, ELINT, COMINT, HUMINT, satellites, HF/DF, you name it... whether flying in an AWACS, a P3, or a desk on a RAF base, we monitored communication, SAM illuminations, missile launches, ships at sea, and enemy flights...

... having my morning coffee, I was just reading Matt's post on the friendly fire accident of Eagle-1 and Eagle-2... as I read the words, "Cougar, tally 2 HINDS", my blood ran cold ...

... go now, and read it... it is a tragedy remembered that should never be forgotten.... friendly fire is a truth of War... accidents happen.. faulty equipment, low visibility, lack of training, etc... it doesn't matter.. the fact is, a group of Heroes died that day...

"They came to save us, and to give us dignity. Their sacrifice will remain in the minds of our children for the rest of their lives. We will teach their names to our children, and keep their names in our books of history as heroes who gave their lives for freedom." - Kurd Sheik Ahmet, April 17th, 1994 memorial service in Zakhu, Iraq

... God Speed, Gentlemen...

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Concussed...

... Acidman has posed a thought provoking - yet simple - question... "have you ever been knocked out"... most people who have lived life free-wheeling can answer that question with a resounding "HELL, yeah, of course I have"...

... most of the people I know have scars and stories... yes, yes I have been knocked out... and I've got quite a few interesting scars... the latest one is still quite fresh.. on my left forearm.. courtesy of a 6" Voyager... hey, accidents happen... when you are having fun and acting wild, they happen with ever increasing regularity.. but, that is a story for another day..

... thinking back, I have only been KO'd once... I was playing soccer in Scotland on a cold, rainy day... all of Company B were in attendance... 1st Platoon vs. 2nd Platoon... (with only 35 Marines on base, we were organized into two small Platoons)... for some reason, I had been designated as goalie that day... hey, it suited me right down to the ground... screw all that running... I'll just chill by the goal, and watch the action... well, that is what I thought anyway...

... we hadn't been playing very long.. maybe 5 minutes... when our CO, Major Tyson got the ball... he darted left and right, mesmerizing the collapsing Corporals... outrunning the sagging Sergeants... and in a flash, he was suddenly on the fringe of my domain... a feeling of NCO tenacity coursed through my veins... I ran forward, and with a mighty surge, leapt - head first - toward the bouncing ball... but just as my hands brushed the ball, Major Tyson's size 11 Nike spun it out of my hand... the ball went up... my airborne body kept going forward... and his Air Pegasus continued the planned trajectory... result?.. he kicked me in the head.. hard...

.. my body kept going forward, but my head was rapidly traveling in the opposite direction trying its best to embed itself between my shoulder blades... whiplash of the highest caliber, children..

... I lost consciousness... I was out for almost 5 minutes.. everyone had seen what had happened, and had rushed over to where I lay (quivering, apparently.. I was out like a light and don't remember thrashing around)... anyway, they were afraid to move me, so they just left my jittery, KO'd ass laying there in the wet grass till help arrived...

... I was just waking up as the corpsman from the tiny base hospital ran through the huddle of Marines surrounding me.. he felt of my neck.. asked me some questions... and then said that I needed to go to the infirmary for a check up... the funny thing is, as soon as my eyes opened, I felt fine.. 20 people were crouching over my crumpled body when I awoke... Major Tyson was leaning in close over me.. possibly imagining that he had killed me... but as my eyes focused, he said..

... "Sorry about that, Marine"...

... to which, I can still remember my answer... an answer that my Plt Commander still gives me Hell over via email...

... I simply brought my hand up to my forehead.. felt the wound where the end of his shoelace had cut a gash in my noggin... looked at our beloved Major... and said...

... "Goddamn, Sir"...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(11)
» The Origin of Soul © links with: Molested by the wall...

Outed...

... Ala over at the Blonde Sagacity started a "Challenge Series"... she wanted former (and current) military readers of her site to send some photos... well, I jumped in... so, if you want to see some photos of me from back in the day, head over here...

... the one at the top of her post was taken on the summit of Mt. Adagdak..

... and for the not-so-faint of heart, three other photos of lil old me are buried in that post.. heh... enjoy, rubberneckers...

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Trophies..

... in the course of returning the blogroom to some semblance of cleanliness yesterday, I found one of my old tee-shirts crumpled in a heap on the couch... I was given that puppy when I completed the MCIWS course many moons ago.. what a trip... gold on black... admittedly, not the most creative of logos... but still, it is mine, and I earned it... and seeing as I will be banned from computer use for the rest of the day due to gardening activities (read that as slave labor), I figured I'd share a photo with you rubberneckers..

survival_small.jpg

.. here's a better view... and yeah, Jimbo.. that's your hat up there... heh..

... ahhh... here's to the sunny slopes of long ago.. trophies come in all shapes and sizes, I guess...

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Afghan Warrior, indeed...

... via Annika, I just heard that Freedom is ringing in a new corner of the blogosphere... this is truly awesome...

... best of luck, Waheed...

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Extremists?...

.. are Marines America's Extremists???.. you decide...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(5)
» Technicalities links with: Here's a Few Fun Things

Leopard skin...

... I once bought a tattered old leopard skin at an antique shop in Arbroath... it was dried hard like parchment... clean, but a bit worse for wear... the skin where the lower jaw had been was pierced on both sides, and a small piece of handmade cord connected both jaws... I asked the owner of the shop for the purpose, and he dropped the bomb... that pelt had been used as a cape - of sorts - by some unknown African tribesman... using the handmade cord, the wearer could place the top of the leopard's head on top of his head, and the cord would could be slipped beneath his chin... thus hold the ensemble in place... with the body, legs, and tail hanging down behind the warrior.. protecting his back from the sun, camouflaging him, and showing everyone who passed that he was a badass leopard killer...

... I had just de-mobbed from the Corps, and standing in that cold shop holding that skin, I knew that I had to have it... 50 pounds sterling was the price, and I paid it... later that night, with much ceremony, I hung it on my manroom wall... alongside my military photos, mementos, and keepsakes that 5 years in the Corps had given me... it stayed on that wall for 8 years... when we were packing up to move to the United States, I gifted it to my friend John.. he was a local Scottish Nationalist politician and had been born in Africa, so I knew he would appreciate it... and besides, I didn't think US Customs would appreciate a 100 year old leopard pelt as much as I did... so, I abandoned it...

... sitting here now, I can tell you truly that I miss having that cape around... once upon a time, I too was a badass leopard killer... I knew the feeling of wearing a skin uniform that celebrated my victories with ribbons, medals, and badges... common threads were shared with the long-dead spearman who had felled that leopard...

.. today, a new breed of warriors are in need of their capes... Kevlar blankets, to be precise... these men and women keep the leopards away, friends.. they are our protectors.... go now, and donate if you can....

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Brother Stevens...

... CNN reports on one of the luckiest Marines in Iraq.. having survived 9 IED attacks... hang in there, my Brother... thank you for your service...

"Ow!" the Marine standing next to Stevens shouts. The man grabs a wrist slapped numb by a stinging chunk of dirt from the cratering blast a quarter-mile-plus away.

"I told you not to be around me," Stevens says, going after the hunched-over Marine. "How many days we got left?"

.. hat tip to Grandma's House for the find...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(3)
» not a shrinking violet links with: Where'd the Love Go?

Candy Bombs...

... good ole Mick of Intellectual Intercourse has a "winning of the hearts" post... the absolute last thing you expect to experience after watching an attack chopper fly past is... well, a sweet taste in your mouth... bravery and kindness come in all all shapes and sizes, people...

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SoA Update!...

... Dean's got the dirt, boys and girls... at least when you donate via US, it goes to a worthy cause... Egyptian Goddess Patchouli, indeed.. shameful... dig deep, children... you now see what we are fighting against....

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Amazonian Attitude...

... Kateland from The Last Amazon gives us a scoop.... from War Crimes to rebuilding lives... and how the Spirit of America is helping... she quotes from the Wall Street Journal...

"We provide timely and effective assistance where it is needed most on the front lines. The Wall Street Journal says, "Spirit of America's organizational insight is to deploy the best practices of the modern U.S. economy - efficiency and speed - around the margins of the Iraq war effort." The Journal adds, "Spirit of America and the Marines are a coalition of the can-do."

... give her a read...

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Long, long ago....

... Caltech Girl has the latest post up for SoA... if you are a Star Wars fan, you are gonna love her post...

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A Changing Mind..

... Juliette is a force, people... one day, I hope to meet her in person, and buy her some shots... sooner, rather than later, I hope... in her heartfelt post, she tells a tale of her Service... the Beirut bombing back in 83 changed her... it changed a lot of us... and well, it changed me too...

... myself and my best friend enlisted in the Marine Corps the next week... we were 11 and 12 respectively... a few months ago, my Mother was cleaning out our old cedar chest, and she found the letter from HQ USMC... thanking us for our offer.. but, telling us to wait till we finished school... they even sent us iron-ons for our tee-shirts... we were pretty damn let-down....

... a few years later, I followed through with my promise... I joined... graduated high school on Friday, and was at Parris Island on Monday.... the rest, as they say, is history...

... I feel ya, Baldilocks... I really do...

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More Reasons...

... The Patriette has a wonderful essay up about the Spirit of America, and what our contributions are actually doing in Iraq... head on over, and give her a read...

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A Poem...

... BloodSpite has it going on, people... a Yuletide poem of epic proportions.... check it out... oh, and donate if you can... the cause is worthy....

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The Cool Blog...

... remember folks, this is a good cause.... Cat-blending, and all....

... The Cool Blue Blog has a great round-up.. check him out....

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Rally Round....

.. ok.. my turn to lift the guidon.... I offer you two quotes here... take them as you may.... so, with that said... let me just begin by saying that I am incredibly proud to be included in the ranks of the Fighting Fusileers for Freedom.... the job that The Spirit of America is doing is incredible... it is multi-faceted, and what's more, it is necessary.... and of course, it is noble... . actually making a difference in the lives of people.... is there any more noble charge that can be gifted to us?... very few that I can think of.... and yes, I meant to say that... gifted... because, truly, we are a gifted bunch.... Providence has put in a position where we can assist in helping people to help themselves... regardless of how you feel about the War... be it right... or be it wrong... donate now...

... as a Southerner who still has Grandparents with secondhand stories of Sherman's march... I understand where Hemingway was headed with the quote below...

"Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime" Ernest Hemingway

... ole Ernest.. well, he has a point.... "War is Hell", as Sherman said, and I can vouch, children.. it is a true statement... and indeed, he made Georgia howl.... the reconstruction of the South took decades... and in a way, the devastation of our Civil War is still being mended... still, it is a fact... populations suffer during War... it is in the very nature of the act... you and I... well, we are in a position to help make war a little less Hellish to the citizens of Iraq... donate now...

... while our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coasties, and Marines are doing their jobs... protecting us from Evil... you and I have a job to do as well... helping make life a little more bearable for our fellow human beings...

... you know, I remember reading, long ago, a quote from Anacreon.... you'll find it below... and at the time I first read it, I was in the military service myself.. well, I totally disagreed with his sentiment.. it was too bitter... too negative... in the end, we can all do our part in supporting our Country.... regardless of our political affiliation.... Anacreon was wrong, when he said....

"War spares not the brave but the cowardly. " Anacreon, The Greek Anthology

... War does not spare anyone.... and bravery is subjective... it is often misunderstood... bravery is, in essence, doing what you know is right.... regardless of the circumstances..... and so, here we sit... watching the events overseas unfold... feeling that we are helpless.. feeling we need to re-enlist... feeling we should protest... feeling we should support... feeling that we have no idea what to do.... sure, we've got the "I support our troops" magnet on our car... but, what else can we do?... well, let me tell you.... send a care package to a serviceman overseas... be active in your communities.... and donate, people... donate to The Spirit of America... you will not regret it...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(3)
» Random Fate links with: From a truly Southern perspective...
» The Cool Blue Blog links with: Daily Dish
» Ben's World links with: War might be Hell...
» The Patriette links with: "...but, what else can we do?"
» pamibe links with: War does not spare anyone….
» Cowboy Blob links with: More Awful Secrets
» Dean's World links with: Thoughts On War
» Sgt Hook - This We'll Defend links with: Fighting Fusileers for Freedom
» Not Exactly Rocket Science links with: Monday Morning Pep Talk!
» Techography links with: 10th Day of Charity
» Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah's Military Guys.. links with: For more thoughtful reasons...
» Brain Shavings links with: Well said
» Mind of Mog links with: Absolut Argghhh!
» The Indepundit links with: A Winning Weekend
» The Indepundit links with: A Winning Weekend
» margilowry.com links with: Fusileer Update
» The Brier Patch links with: It's Time To Slow Dance
» Velociworld links with: On a More Serious Note...
» baldilocks links with: War Musings
» Technicalities links with: Eric Always Has A Wonderful Way With Words
» Intellectual Intercourse links with: Spirit of America Update
» The Laughing Wolf links with: Join The Fighting Fusileers For Freedom!
» BLACKFIVE links with: Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge Update
» Tammi's World links with: I'm Ashamed

Eating Kittens?...

... if I hadn't heard it directly from Beth, I'd never have believed it... shocking stuff... shocking....

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Spider dropping...

... no, you retards... not spider droppings... spider DROPPING... get your minds out of the gutter..... as a young buck US Marine back in the day, it was something we were taught to do... at the School of Infantry at Camp Geiger... a "spider drop" was the fine art of dangling from a second story window, and falling to the ground without killing yourself... and before you ask, yes... broken bones were the norm... spiders can drop incredibly well... Marines?.. well, not quite as well... we usually hit the ground with a huge thump.... but, in our defense, we were great shots... and we never stopped trying to get that damn spider drop perfected...

.. currently, my esteemed Brothers are engaged in a house-to-house struggle in Fallujah... rivaling Hue in 1968... a battle in which my Father fought... Godspeed, friends....

.. today, while checking my dailies, I see this crazy shit over at Dog Snot... giant spiders, my ass.... trust me, folks... if Allah were sending giant spiders to Fallujah, we'd have pictures of Jarheads barbecuing them by now with a side order of mashed potatoes and baked beans...

... Hell... what else is to be said?.... Giant Spiders, people... go forth and read the idiocy.... the only spiders dropped in Fallujah were not sent from Allah.. they were well-trained Marines going house to house...

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Operation Cowbell...

... what's Ben doing?... ringing that cowbell... ringing it, man... I just realized... there is nothing like a strong cup of coffee, and some loud cowbell ringing to get your heart a'pumpin' in the morning...

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A Voice of Reason...

... Dean Esmay hits it....

"Because ultimately, whether you thought going was the right thing or the wrong thing, isn't trying to create peace and friendship something we should all hope to see happen?"

... he's right, you know....

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The Spirit of America..

... tis the season, people... time to break out some of your cash for a good cause... The Spirit of America campaign.... if you don't know what I'm talking about, get over there and have a read... our donations last year helped incredibly.... many successes were noted, and we made a difference... we can do the same thing this year... John of Castle Argghhh is in command of us Fighting Fusileers o'Freedom... join us in our mission... you won't be sorry...

standard.jpg

.. Donate, people... every little bit counts...

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For our Veterans...

... "In the big war companies, 250 strong, you could find every sort of man.. from every sort of calling... There were Northwesterners with straw-colored hair that looked white against their tanned skins.... and delicately spoken chaps with the stramp of eastern universities on them.... There were large-boned fellows from Pacific-coast lumber camps... and tall, lean Southerners who swore amazingly in gentle drawling voices....

.... There were husky farmers from the corn-belt... and youngsters who had sprung, as it were, to arms from the necktie counter... And there were also a number of diverse people who ran curiously to type, with drilled shoulders, and bone-deep sunburn... and a tolerant scorn for everything on earth....

... Their speech was flavored with navy words... and the words culled from all the folk who live on the seas and the ports where our warships go.... In easy hours, their talk ran from the Tatar Wall beyond Peking to the Southern Islands, down under Manila; from Portsmouth Navy Yard - New Hampshire and very cold - to obscure bushwhackings in the West Indies, where Cacao Chiefs, whimsically sanguinary... barefoot generals with names like Charlemagne and Christophe, waged war according to the precepts of the French Revolution and the Cult of the Snake... They drank their eau de vie of Haute-Marne... reminisced on saki, and vino, and Bacardi Rum - Strange drinks in strange cantinas at the far ends of the earth; and they spoke fondly of Milwaukee beer.

... Rifles were high and holy things to them, and they knew five-inch broadside guns.... They talked patronizingly of the war, and were concerned about rations.... They were the Leathernecks, the Old Timers: collected from the ship's guard and shore stations all over the earth to form the 4th Brigade of Marines... the two rifle regiments, detached from the Navy by order of the President for service with the American regulars... regarding the service as home and war as an occupation; and they transmitted their temper and character and view-point to the high-hearted volunteer mass which filled the ranks of the Marine Brigade.."

... quoted from "Fix Bayonets"... by Col. John W. Thompson , Jr. 1926

... God, bless our Veterans..

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Philly to Fallujah...

... last year, the mood was different... and I wrote this brief history of my beloved Corps' conception...

... today, as I sit here typing this, Fallujah is being stormed... today, I feel even more deeply... the pride of knowing my Brothers and Sisters are doing their jobs... they are in harms way on our behalf.... as they always have been...

... Happy Birthday, Marines... may you all stay safe... and, may your enemies quake with fear before you... Semper Fidelis...

Update: Mike is chiming in...

Update: Blackfive has the CG of 2 MEF's message .. and, Daniel has the face of battle in Fallujah...

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Duty....

... this story is a must... read it... read it more than once... let it sink in... then, read it again...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(5)
» Snugg Harbor links with: Real Courage

Mexicans...

... what a way to get the morning started... this story has me livid.... disrespectful, disdainful, and just plain wrong... Juan Lopez, you deserved so much more than your native land let you have.... Semper Fi, Brother..

"Four Mexican soldiers blocked their path, asking the four Marines and six others who had served as pallbearers to return to the car that had brought them to the funeral. Several minutes of discussions by soldiers from both countries continued until a trumpet player began a rendition of taps and the funeral proceeded, despite the objections of the Mexican troops."

..you are damn right it proceeded....

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278th ACR...

... well, they are gone.... Johnny has gone for a soldier today... Fathers, Brothers, Husbands, Boyfriends, Sons... East Tennessee's Regiment is now officially underway.... they left this morning... from Sevierville, Lenior City, and many other places.... the caravan snaked it's way from the foothills... down towards the Great State of Mississippi... our boys are gone now... God Speed, dear ones... stay safe...

... this morning, I listened to the Convoy's movements on the radio while driving to work.. my cousin, Big Daddy C, took this morning off.. he wanted to help send off the troops.... when he got to work, I asked him about it... children, it was touching... as he described the scene, I was filled with pride, compassion, and love for my Country and her Troops.... I asked Big Daddy if he'd mind scribbling down his thoughts on the event for me to put on the blog.... well, just now, he sent me an e-mail.... so, I'm going to share with you...

"Well, good afternoon. Hope the drive home was nice and uneventful. Im sure it was quite wet though. Anyway, just writing to let you know about the send off of the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment, Troop D out of Lenoir City, TN of which my brother-in-law is a member. This morning as we (Missy, Bryce, Colton, Piper, Major, and Me (Big Daddy C), and Grann-Grann (Missy and V.J.'s Grandmother)) came out of the Village Parkway to merge onto 321, the traffic was pretty much bumper to bumper at 6 am. We saw, and heard, lights and sirens, to which Missy responded, "Shit B.D.C., they are lined up plum to HERE from the Armory".

So, I sit for a bit to wait, but no asshole would let me into the traffic, so I decided I would pull out anyway. They were only going about 10 mph anyway. The traffic was that way for about 5 miles until we reached I75. That was when we realized that it was the Blount County Troop and their convoy of supporters giving them their proper send off. At that point things began to hit home for Missy and Grann-Grann and, of course, Me too. We arrived at the Armory about 15 after 6. 200 people were already there (members of Civilian-Soldiers families and friends). We went inside to be with V.J. and the rest of the troop to tell them how much we support them, and man, was I not ready for what I walked into. It was like attending a funeral.

Guys were huddled with their families and friends talking quietly amongst
themselves. The closer it got to time for the bus to pull out the worse
it got. At 25 till 8 the bus arrived. At that time, the guys got up and took
their gear to the bus to load and the families went with them. Here we all
were in the pouring rain. Standing. Hugging. Oh, by the way V.J. has a 8 year old daughter (Abbey). She was just beside herself crying. But, what was so weird was how V. J.'s new girlfriend, his ex-wife, and her new husband were all in a nice little huddle - along, of course, with about 12 more of us, and just to see how everybody got along and were hugging, crying, and consoling each other was incredible.

At one point, he and his ex-wife were over there hugging and talking. All the while, her husband was with us talking like he was just one of us. But all through the building it was all just so sad. Fathers, brothers, sons, all leaving their families' - maybe to never come back, and seeing their children crying, and just wondering what they were thinking. Of course, my children were emotional as well. As was Missy and everyone else.

I was watching people say their goodbye's, and I saw this one fellow with his young wife and two small children. It was almost time to board the bus, and he was going through his keychain explaining each key to her, and what it was for, and how to unlock some door. Of course, that was the farthest thing from her mind, and she was balling her eyes out, and dealing with their 4 year old and 2 year old. All the while, tears were streaming down his face too. That kinda stuff just tore me up.

The bus had 10 city and county cops as an escort, but in front of the bus - and behind - it were two of Tennessee's finest with lights and sirens blaring. They escorted them all the way to the Georgia State line, I understood a family member say. I have been through many things, but this was quite emotional. Especially for a big slug whom many think doesn't have a heart, such as myself. Well that's about enough of that. There is too much to say, and I just can't type worth a F@%&...... I just thought you, of all people, could understand the thoughts and feelings I have at the present. Last, but not the least, may God be with the 278th, their families, and all of our Military Personnel and their families, and keep them safe. You know me I am in support of our troops just as you are.

Much Love Cuz,

Big Daddy C"

.... I wish I could have been there to help send them off... but, Big Daddy and his family seemed to have done a fine job without me.... Fair winds, and following Seas, 278th... thank you for your service and sacrifice...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(24)
» Closet Extremist links with: A Doublety of Trinities

Marines at Normandy...

.... In the run-up for the 60th Anniversary of the Allied landings at Normandy, Blackfive asked the Milbloggers to tell some personal stories about people we knew who were involved... but, none of my family were present during the invasion... my Grandfather was indeed in the US Army, but he arrived a few weeks later.... he has told me many stories about the courage, sacrifice, and hard-times that he and his mates had crawling through Belgium... and France.... in the end, he was captured... early in the morning of December 14th... wounded and freezing in the Ardennes snow... manning his 81mm mortar with his section... during the Battle of the Bulge... Stalag 12A was his final destination... weighing 196 pounds when coming ashore in June.... and... 98 pounds when the Russians liberated his camp... that was my Grandfather....

... the rest of my family served in either the US Marines, or Navy... Great Uncle J.R. was not too far from the flag when it was raised over Suribachi... Great Uncle Rob was a Seabee on Peleilu.. Great Uncle George was an Army cannoncocker for Macarthur... and, so the list goes... all Pacific Theatre..... but, when it comes to Europe... there is only Grandpa.... so, I thought that I would focus this post in a slightly different area... D-day being one of the US Military's Finest Hours.... I immediately asked myself... as one tends to do.... "where were the Marines?"...

... as it turns out, while researching this per Blackfive's request, I have found out about quite a few incredible individuals that I hadn't heard about before.... and, yes... there were a few Jarheads present during the landing at Normandy.... the Naval armada during the invasion was incredible... ships as far as the eye could see... all manner of ships... military, and civilian..... and, among the Capital ships, the cruisers normally had at least 80 Marines onboard to man their 5-inch guns... and, among the battleships, a cadre of 200 Marines.... so, yes... some of my Brothers were indeed there during the Allied penetration of Europe... but, also... Marines were present in the planning of Operation Overlord... most notably, General Harold D. Campbell, USMC.... he was an advisor to the British Staff of Combined Operations... he was awarded the Legion of Merit for his help in planning the amphibious assault.... Marines had been landing troops by sea in some of the bloodiest battles on the Pacific... so, their grim expertise was put to good use...

... one of the Men that I had a chance to read about in my quest for ETO Marines, was Col. Peter J. Ortiz, USMC... he wasn't at Normandy.... but, he was one of 51 US Marines who served with the OSS in Europe... seriously... follow this link, and read the whole page... he was one impressive Legionnaire AND US Marine... and, this article tells of various USMC exploits in the ETO... including D-day.... hearing of USMC sharpshooters during the invasion.... climbing onto the highest point of their ships, and exploding surface mines with well-aimed rifle fire... well, that just harks back to the Birth of the Corps.. quadrafoil and all... but, back to my point...

... the Men of D-day were all together... back then, we were all together in this.... putting the skills of Soldier... Sailor... Air Corpsman... Coast Guardsman... civilian.... and, Marine...to good use... the brotherhood of a common cause welded them together... and, a beach was taken, people.... the valor... and, sacrifice... of those incredible Human Beings that day.. well, it is an example to us all...

... so, on this 60th Anniversary of the Invasion of Europe... I would like to thank all of the people involved... if you had failed... if you had lacked the courage... we would not be here today... living as comfortably as we are... thank you... you are remembered...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(5)
» BLACKFIVE links with: The Sixtieth Anniversary of D-Day
» Marine Corps Moms links with: Marines at Normandy
» :: digital-marine :: links with: Marines At Normandy?

Damn...

... William Manchester has died... Goodbye Darkness, indeed...

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(1)
» Snugg Harbor links with: Passing the Torch

In Phoenix..

....I wish I could have helped... you and your Husband are an inspiration.... Thank you...

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Cpl. Dunham, USMC

... this article is a must read... especially today... Cpl. Dunham is being considered for the Medal of Honor for his actions...

"So Cpl. Dunham was put on another Blackhawk to take him to the Seventh Marines' base at Al Asad, a transfer point for casualties heading on to the military surgical hospital in Baghdad. During the flight, the corporal lay on the top stretcher. Beneath him was the Iraqi, with two tubes protruding from his chest to keep his lungs from collapsing. Lt. Hering stood next to the stretchers, squeezing a plastic bag every four to five seconds to press air into Cpl. Dunham's lungs.

The Iraqi, identified in battalion medical records only as POW#1, repeatedly asked for water until six or seven minutes before landing, when Cpl. Dunham's blood-drenched head bandage burst, sending a red cascade through the mesh stretcher and onto the Iraqi's face below. After that, the man remained quiet, and kept his eyes and mouth clenched shut, says the nurse, Lt. Hering.

The Army air crew made the trip in 25 minutes, their fastest run ever, according to the pilot, and skimmed no higher than 50 feet off the ground to avoid changes in air pressure that might put additional strain on Cpl. Dunham's brain."

...hat tip to Equivocal Catharsis for pointing the way to this story..

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(0)
» Undercaffeinated links with: Memorial Day

Another Hero...

.. Visit Here... NOW.... you hang in there, girl... you are doing a wonderful job for ALL of us....

.. anyway, that is all for now... time for me to retire for the evening.... the Wife, the Scotch.... and, the Deck are calling me... time to deep-burn this sunburn.... being a redhead in the South sucks, people....

... oh, and a big hat-tip to That Henson Kid for the head's-up...

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Mourn a Hero...

... I just found this via Blackfive... I don't know what to say.. other than to echo what his Captain said... Fair Winds, and Following Seas, Jeremiah... thank you for your service... thank you for your courage... thank you for your sacrifice... thank you, Brother.. my thoughts, and deepest sympathy to your family and friends...

... the traditional military toast was raised last night for you... Absentibus Amicis... and, even though I never met you, you had an upturned cup, and a chair at my evening meal yesterday...

Semper Fidelis

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Home on the Range..

...Saturday morning... my favorite time of the week... but, today is slightly different.... a week and a half ago, I was challenged, friends.... called out, so to speak.. during the Wednesday poolfest, my honor as a marksman was tarnished after I missed a particularly drunken long-range shot.. almost immediately, questions were raised of my abilities with my AR-15... in a split second, money exchanged hands... 100 dollars... 10 shots each at 100yds... heh...

... I was challenged by a Good Ole Boy who has never even fired an AR-15 before... I've been shooting with him before, and he is indeed a good shot.. but still.. it is MY weapon... so... needless to say, I feel fairly confident...

... back when I was first trained to use the M16A2, we qualified by shooting at 100, 300, and 500yds... perhaps it was my Hillbilly upbringing.... or, maybe the fact that my Dad taught me to shoot the Marine Corps Way at an early age... or, maybe it was because we had some kickass PMIs.... but whatever the reason, I ended up being awarded the Marine Corps Association's Marksmanship Award for having the highest shooting score of my graduating class...

... all this being said, I am heading to the Gentleman's house in a while... weapon in hand... to meet my High Noon appointment with Ben Franklin and the miscalculating Good Ole Boy... more to come later... I will tell you, good or bad, what the results were later in the day... heh.. but, as I mentioned... I feel a wee bit confident in the outcome...

UPDATE: ...as I was loading the gear into the Audi this morning, the phone rang... my antagonist said he had been called into work, and we'd have to put off our shooting trip until next weekend... so, I drove over to my Mother's house to help her open the pool.. after we were finished, I went around behind her barn.. marched off 100yds, and placed a Maxwell House coffee can on a fence post... here were my results... oh, by the way, the coffee can is roughly the size of an adult human's head...

..from the seated, cross legged position... 10rds were fired slowfire... all rounds were fired in under 3 minutes... and, most importantly, all 10 rounds impacted the coffee can from 100yds.. my grouping was roughly 6 inches X 4 inches.. left to right... not too bad for combat peepsights set to BZO.... so, next weekend, I shall be purchasing that 25yr old Macallan that I have been lusting after for the past month... I smell easy money, Children...

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Evil...

.. God Dammit...

More Straight talk »

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by Eric | Permalink | Bullshit(13)
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