Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Citizen Walt Gaya

Here is a story of one man's path to citizenship that I can admire. He's paid not only his dues, but many others as well. Welcome, citizen Walt Gaya, I'm proud to have you here!

In case you didn't recognize the name, Walt is a soldier, one of many about whom Michael Yon wrote while embedded with the Deuce Four in Iraq. Michael continues Walt's story in A Piece of Cake.

Now, I just have to get to Tacoma to shake Walt's hand, and support the Corina Bakery at 510 6th Avenue. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Save the Date! Milbloggers Shootout / July 15th

What do you do when Milbloggers come to town? When they bring their firearms (sorry Lex), you must go visit the range, of course!

Francis Marion of Where I Stand is coming to Ft. Lewis, and the plan is to meet at a yet-to-be-determined range on Saturday, July 15th and do a little shootin'! No specifics yet, but I'd love to hear from the local gunbloggers if you have range suggestions and such.

Milblogger Shootout 2006

We may even get a few of the Denizens of Argghhh! to travel in for the weekend. Sgt B and 74 are both within driving distance, Whoo-Hoo!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

More on Jessie

Iowahawk's got the complete scoop on Jessie MacBeth ... go read it!

H/T to Chap at Milblogs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Micro-brews and Micro-blogmeets

Last night was a special evening, as BCR and I sped off into Seattle to meet up with our favorite Naval Aviator, Neptunus Lex. We connected with Lex at the appointed time, and whisked him off to the local chowder house, where we nourished body and soul with food, drink and great conversation.

Lex would have you believe that BCR and I exhibited good manners and charm by laughing at his jokes ... Right.

All I know is that the conversation never faltered, and much laughter was shared! I could have stayed for hours longer, and was sorry to say goodnight. Thanks again for dinner, Lex - next time it's our treat .. y'hear now?

Monday, May 22, 2006

New Idiots and Old Adversaries

I started reading this post at Smash's place, about a weasel claiming to be an anti-war soldier. An Army Ranger, no less! (Hey, if you're going to impersonate a soldier, do it in style.) The first link in the post takes you off to the web site of a group that I recognize. I ran into some of the folks from SocialistAlternative-dot-Org 1 year and 1 day ago, outside of an Army recruiting office on Jackson St. in Seattle.

The purported reason for the protest last year was that some high school students and their parents were upset at recruiting practices. I did see a few parents, and maybe some of the youngsters were there as well. But the big attendees and noise-makers present were from SocialistAlternative, and it was obvious they were the driving force for the day. Luckily, it was a small protest, and except for the rudeness of some of the fellow observers, it was a pleasant day.

So now we see the SA folks are trying to use another approach, finding a malcontent who wants to tell us all just how badly the troops behaved in Iraq. Another Winter Soldier, as it were. Except that experienced soldiers all over the blogosphere are ripping his claim of being a Ranger to shreds. In fact, it seems he might not have served in the Army at all. Gee - it's time to ask for someone's DD-214 again.

Check out Smash and Allahpundit, they've got the scoop, and keep tabs at Milblogs central for the latest on this and other stories.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Can't help comparing

This Marine injured twice in Iraq, with this Congressman who should STFU.

I know which one I can call Hero. Thank You and Semper Gratus, Cpl. Pack!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Milblogs Lead the Way!

Check out the new Milblogs DB site - thanks to Greyhawk and Mrs. Greyhawk. Our favorite milbloggers posting more great stories to augment (NOT replace) the high-quality posts on their own blogs. The Armorer, Smash, Blackfive, Sgt. Hook and many more - think of it as the Castle's H&I Fires on steriods ... or some kind of hormone, anyways!


Here's just a taste of the goodness ...

Calling All Lawyers / Smash
How does the Posse Comitatus Act affect President Bush's plan to deploy up to 6,000 Guard troops to the border?

Asian/Pacific Americans in the U.S. Army / Sgt. Hook
May marks the month we recognize the contributions of Asian/Pacific Islanders to the defense of America through their service in the military.

Ports, Straits and the purpose of the Navy / Eagle1
Oil tanker as mine sweeper? Operation Earnest Will, anyone? I do have a nice poster from my old Naval Control of Shipping days of the Bridgeton leading her 'escorts."

Monday, May 15, 2006

School Prayer?

Generally I don't understand the flap over school prayer. If you didn't pray silently in school (for good grades, for the teacher to please not call on you, whatever), then that's between you and whatever deity or providence you hold highest. Personally, I prayed all the time, I just didn't do it out loud.

But seriously, the arguments against having a moment for prayer after saying the Pledge of Allegiance (please tell me that children still recite this?!), or having a valedictorian request a moment of prayer, have nothing at all to do with the fiction of "Separation of Church and State". It has to do with meddling with our rights, and it's, at best, petty - at worst, it is just another example of someone *else* trying to define your normal for you under their terms. Not acceptable.

But look, the Seattle Public Schools are forming a committee to examine the question of whether prayer in school is needed to "support the needs of our diverse students and families." Can it be, here in the bluest of blue counties, King Country, that such a thing might be deemed useful and desirable for the students? Have I suddently been transported to a red state?

Not so fast. You see, the committee is not going to study the possibility of allowing prayer for all students. It is only going to discuss the needs of Muslim students !

Committee will propose guidelines for issue of prayer

The SPS Department of Race and Equity is looking for SEA members to participate in a "Prayer in Schools Committee," the charge of which is to look at how to address this issue District wide and to provide information about our Muslim students that will help teachers and building leaders make decisions that support the needs of our diverse students and families. The next meeting is scheduled for May 30th, 3:00 - 4:30.
Contact Dr. Hollins at
(From the Seattle Education Association newsletter Unity)
Hat tip to Andy MacDonald at Sound Politics.

For the record, I agree with Andy's viewpoint - the schools should have nothing to do with prayer, neither denying students the opportunity to take their own time to use for this purpose, nor setting aside time for it. Whether or not to pray is a highly personal decision, the school is there to teach, to offer information and an environment which encourages learning and mental growth. Period.

I wonder if there is anything postive that is possible to come from this discussion? I don't see a possibility of it. What are your thoughts?

Local KOMO (ABC affiliate) commentator Ken Schramm is on this one. He says that Dr. Hollins lied to him.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Let the Troops tell the tale

Congrats to Deborah Scranton's The War Tapes, which won the international documentary feature competition at the Tribeca Film Festival this week! This simply demonstrates how valuable it is to get boots-on-the-ground stories from our troops to counter the doom and gloom of the major news outlets. Bravo, Deborah!

In other news ...

Capt B talks about something stinky from the left. Make sure you read all the way through the Combat Update read the Hero's Call!

Taco is telling his Marine story, with parts one, two and three up so far. Must reads!

Michael Yon has an important story about an Iraqi hero, Capt. Furat - someone you should definitely know.

Sgt Hook introduces us to Spc. Bryant Jacobs, a hero returning home later than the rest of his unit. And don't miss Hook's pacifier for his readers - a moving tribute to the American Soldier.

America's Son is trying to settle back into being home, while his heart wants to get back into the fight.

The end hasn't been written yet on the Fran O'Brien's story. If you haven't read the latest, get yourself over to Fuzzilicious Thinking and catch up. (H/T to the Castle)

HomeFront Six is dealing with chores the hubby usually does, while he does his stint at NTC. She also honors the Soldiers lost in last weeks Chinook crash in Afghanistan, and could use a friendly visit.

And don't miss the Warrior to Warrior re-post at Mudville Gazette - it's just in time for Sunday!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Go to the Movies

I read Capt B's review of United 93 this morning, and some thoughts that have been swirling in my head came to the forefront and demanded equal time.

He describes the intensity of watching the events unfold:

No surprises in the movie. Yes, it ends like you're fearing and know it's going to. BUT, it does give a very good detailed description of what they have pieced together of the occurrences that transpired that day. As events unfold and footage from the attacks on the World Trade Center are shown, I began to get that nervous chest tightening feeling again as I experienced in theater before going out on convoys. I knew what was coming up in the movie and although not sure of the details I knew the tragic outcome.

Not that I have any idea what it's like to rev up to go 'outside the wire' in a war zone, but that tension in the chest was there.

I left the theater with that pissed off I wanna go stomp some more Monkey Ass feeling in my gut!. Angry as the movie reminds people in the theater WHY we are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Angry because in the jumbo theater I was in, Flt 93 was only in one theater of 12 in the building. Angry because the theater I was in was only half full. Meanwhile little girlie man "Tommy Cruise" is running around with his wireless mike trying to complete MI III. There should be a line outside of people wanting to see the movie Flt 93. Not ready for it? Scared? Not wanting to face the ending all over again because you know the result?? Bullshit. Get you ass out there and see it.

That's it, folks. The bottom line is that you must see this movie, to prove to hollyweird that we value true stories about real heroes far more than high-paid actors playing at being heroes.

Waiting until the movie hits DVD will not help deliver the message Right Now.

The Huntress recently gave a run-down of the kinds of stories that the film industry is working on.
Not one story about the daily inspiring heroic accomplishments of our troops...just stories about one man's failure, one man's dissent, one man's controversial assertions about Pres Bush and the military, the underside of the situation in Iraq with the kidnapping of a journalist; the challenges soldiers face when returning from war and trying to find the "new normal", and the pain that families face when their loved ones pay the ultimate price.
Hoo-fucking-ray for Hollywood. Asshats!

Every time we go to a theater and buy a ticket for a little entertainment, we are voting for more of the same. We send messages straight to the movie makers and elitists in the film industry to make that kind of film again. We all know how filmmakers like to repeat success - and that they care about two things : money and recognition. We can't give the right movies Oscars, but we can vote with our feet and wallets.

The message we need to send about United 93 is that we aren't satisfied with watching fake heroes - we have real ones, and we want to see more of them. So enter your vote by buying a ticket, even if - like Varifrank - you can't bear to walk into the theater and watch the movie.

If you can convince someone to go with you, all the better. And if you know people who are not so firm in their resolve that we are at war, and must win it - buy them a ticket and take them with you. It'll be good for both of you.

Some other sites with reviews and links:

Friday, May 05, 2006

How we treat the military

Orson Scott Card writes some of the best science fiction to be found, but he is very in touch with the current events of the world as well, as he proves in his World Watch column of April 16. He gives his viewpoint on the retired generals v. Sec. Rumsfeld, on the view of the military in television, and how it all affects the perception of U.S. citizens and others around the world.

I wish I had a hope of writing as well as this:

Donald Rumsfeld did not go down to the Pentagon with a blank purchase order on which the generals could write down their wishes, which it would be Rumsfeld's job to grant.

Instead, he went there as one of the most accomplished and conniving bureaucratic maneuverers ever to work in Washington -- and that's saying something.

Rumsfeld had an agenda, partly derived from President Bush and partly from his own experience in the past. Rumsfeld knew that the military, if left to itself, would choke on its own institutional debris.

For all fulltime professional military cultures share some common traits. For one thing, during peacetime, it is not the great military leaders who rise, it is the conniving bureaucratic generals. As a conniving bureaucrat himself, Rumsfeld knew exactly whom he was dealing with, and he was better at the game. (Plus, he had the ear of the Commander-in-Chief, and he was a civilian.)

So all the standard means by which a Washington bureaucracy captures and coopts its politically-appointed "leaders" simply did not work on Rumsfeld. They could not get around him. They could not delay and obfuscate and bloviate until he went away. When he said "hop," he kept watching until he saw some hopping behavior.

Now, Rumsfeld is no fool. His agenda was to remake the military into a force that could deal with modern asymmetrical warfare -- where a big country (us) must deal with a teeny-weeny country or a nontraditional military.

And there were people already in the military who knew exactly how to do the job. How to create a highly mobile, effective force that could, openly or clandestinely, counter terrorism, insurgency, guerrilla warfare, warlords, or rogue states.

Rumsfeld found those people. Rumsfeld made sure they were listened to.

Some of them had been struggling for years to get the bureaucratic generals to listen to them. But the old ways of warfare were so thoroughly intrenched that they could barely be budged.

Rumsfeld budged them.

 Go here to read the whole piece.

Monday, May 01, 2006

National Military Appreciation Month

How do You show your appreciation the members of our military, and for their families?  Maybe you connect through Soldiers' Angels, AnySoldier.Com or BooksForSoldiers, or greet returning troops in your area, or volunteer at your local USO, or help the families of serving military to deal with the long absence of their loved ones. 

Maybe you haven't taken any of these steps because you weren't sure how to do so, or didn't realize how much good you can do, and how easy it is.  Showing support doesn't have to cost a lot of money, as literally every Soldier, Marine, Airman or Sailor will tell you that all they really want when deployed is to hear from someone back home.  Letters and cards are greatly appreciated.  And, in case you haven't discovered this yet, I'll tell you a secret - you get as much out of it as they do!  Sometimes, you even get a Blogson ...*grin*.

Our lawmakers in Washington have decided to designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month:

Congress, Nation Designate Military Appreciation Month

By Gene Harper
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2004 – Both chambers of the U.S. Congress have adopted a resolution calling for Americans to recognize and honor U.S. service members during May's National Military Appreciation Month.

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis, along with 16 cosponsors, introduced Concurrent Resolution No. 328 in the House in November. The Senate agreed to it without amendment and by unanimous consent April 26.

The resolution states that the House, with the Senate concurring, "supports the goals and objectives of a National Military Appreciation Month." It also "urges the president to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States, localities, organizations and media to annually observe" the month "with appropriate ceremonies and activities. Finally, the resolution urges the White House Commission on Remembrance to "work to support the goals and objectives" of the month.

The Senate first passed a resolution in 1999 designating National Military Appreciation Month. That declaration summoned U.S. citizens to observe the month "in a symbol of unity, … to honor the current and former members of the armed forces, including those who have died in the pursuit of freedom and peace."

Traditionally, May has focused on the military in many ways. For example, Public Service Recognition Week, celebrated the first full Monday through Sunday in May since 1985, recognizes the roles of public servants, including the military, at local, state, regional and federal levels. As a part of PSRW, communities across America showcase military equipment and service members from U.S. installations. The largest PSRW event takes place on Washington's National Mall, where more than 100 federal agencies, including the military services, put their activities, people and equipment on public display. This year's mall event is May 6-9.

Armed Forces Day, created in 1949, is an annual event held on the third Saturday in May, with activities at U.S. military bases around the world. This year's celebration occurs May 15.

The month culminates with Memorial Day, a federal holiday on the last Monday in May. The day, dating from the Civil War era, traditionally has marked recognition of those who have died in service to the nation. Each year on Memorial Day, the White House Commission on Remembrance promotes one minute of silence at 3 p.m. local time to honor the military's fallen comrades and to pay tribute to the sacrifices by the nation's service members and veterans.

This really should happen all year around, but a month is a good start!  Check out the website for National Military Appreciation Month 2006 , complete with suggestions on ways to show your support: 
#7  REGISTER YOUR SUPPORT AT America Supports You!
Here are some other suggestions, many of which regular visitors will recognize from my sidebar.  (I'll be adding the new ones as soon as I update my template)
Project Valour-IT (a Soldiers' Angels project)
AnySoldier.Com (All Services)
All of these good causes can use financial help, some let you connect with serving military folks, and if you can only afford the cost of envelopes, paper and stamps - send a letter ... make a connection.  Let's show our military community how much we appreciate and support them!