Friday, June 30, 2006

Celebrate Independence, and Remember the Fallen

I'll be out of town for a few days, and want to wish you all a very safe weekend. In the midst of the celebrating, the BBQs and fireworks, keep in mind the core meaning of Independence Day. Our history as a country may be short on some scales, but it is rich and strong ... reflecting our love of freedom. Wave your flags proudly, and thank every service member and veteran you can find!

Celebrate Independence!

Freedom isn't free, as every Soldier, Marine, Sailor, Airman and Coast Guardsman knows.

Matt at Blackfive posts a video from the memorial service for SPC David Babineau, PFC Kristian Menchaca and PFC Thomas Tucker.

The Armorer of Castle Argghhh introduces us to Pfc David Nicholas Crombie.

Their names are part of our history -- reminding us of the real cost being paid every day by our serving men and women. Celebrate in their memory ... Happy Independence Day!

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Acidman departs

I had just barely posted up the news about Pfc Devon Gibbons, when I clicked over to Castle Argghhh for something to lighten my mind. Instead I found that the blogosphere has lost one of our own.

Rob Smith, better known as the Acidman, has passed away. After all Rob had been through in the past year, I still can't believe it. I figured he wouldn't go without making one helluva racket.

Dayum, Rob -- The blogosphere won't be the same without you.

Pfc. Devon Gibbons, R.I.P.

Port Orchard Soldier Dies of Injuries from Iraq War
By Kitsap Sun staff
June 24, 2006

Army Pfc. Devon Gibbons, a former Port Orchard resident and soldier who was critically wounded in Iraq, died Friday afternoon.

For the past 10 weeks, Gibbons had fought for his life in an intensive care burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.

He had suffered burns over 90 percent of his body when a roadside bomb detonated under an armored vehicle he was driving April 11 in Iraq. Doctors were forced to amputate both his legs and part of his right arm because of the burns.

Gibbons' parents have been in Texas since their son was transferred to the Texas hospital.

"Devon is a true Calvary Scout and a Valiant Man. His determination and strength kept him with us long enough to be an example to all of us and for him to turn his heart to the Lord," they wrote on a Web site, set up to keep family and friends updated.

"He loved much, he loved life, he fought a great fight and finished the course. Devon returned to the loving arms of the Savior about 3:30 pm on Friday, June 23rd, 2006, San Antonio time. He went peacefully, his heart stopped suddenly so he did not suffer and he is no longer in pain. ..."

You fought the good fight, now it's time to join the others at Fiddler's Green.

To Devon's parents and love ones, thank you for sharing your brave son, and supporting him in serving his country.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Troop Support: Mission Accomplished

Bad Cat Robot and I joined the great folks at Operation Support Our Troops yesterday at Ft. Lewis, to ensure that the soldiers of the 3rd "Arrowhead Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division left for their second deployment to Iraq knowing that we support them and their mission. The anti-war / pro-Watada crowd has been trying to demoralize our troops by staging protests as troops deploy, so our goal was simply to counter their attempts and show a greater presence of support to those preparing to deploy.

The day was a success - as we joined 20-30 other patriotic citizens at the DuPont exit from I-5 south of Tacoma. Flags were waved and signs showing support and Thanks were held high, as we waved at all who passed. Many vehicles went by with multiple soldiers riding high, cheering back at us, and some saluting the flags as they rode through.

Our group was cheerful and friendly, and much better looking than the anti-war gaggle. I personally enjoyed talking with several vets. One gentleman who served in WWII stood and chatted with me for a while. Although in his 80's, he stays active with 4-H, teaching youngsters to shoot safely -- still giving back to the community. At one point, he looked over at one of the signs held by the war protestors, and said to me "Who are these people Benderman and Watada?". So I explained to him about Kevin Benderman, currently serving time in the stockade, and Ehren Watada, who so publicly announced he would not deploy with his troops. His expression changed, as if he'd bitten into a large sour lemon, and he said "That's not right". I agreed with him whole-heartedly, and thanked him again for his service.

Watada is, of course, the current poster child for the protestors, as this simple sign indicates...

Protestor with sign - Free Speech for Lt. Watada

However, our side had a seekrit weapon - carrying her own special signs. Check out the long-haired chickie in this pic...

click for larger image

Her goal for the day was to be close to the anti-war group, to sorta help them out. Heh - she seemed to perform her assigned task quite well.

Other high points at the rally:

  • Watching one of the moonbats attempt to attach a large Support Lt. Watada '2516 Dead for a Lie' banner directly to the Ft. Lewis fence, and the responding Ft. Lewis police explaining to said moonbat that he was messing with government property, and must cease and desist!
  • Observing a woman stroll up and down -in the exist ramp- attempting to hand out anti-war flyers, and watching the responding State Patrol officers (four of them!) arrive to explain the facts of life to Her.
  • Counting the number of people who gave a Thumbs Up to the "Jail Weasel Watada" sign.
  • Big smiles and happy waves from the children in the passing cars!

Of course, BCR and I had a separate mission to perform, which we fulfilled on our way to the rally. A full recon of the new Corina Bakery was called for ... and we were up to the task! We successfully infiltrated the site, posing as buying customers, and were forced ... Forced, I tell you ... to acquire sizable quantities of baked goods to maintain our cover. Two dozen chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies, along with a selection of large (5" x 5") dessert bars, as well as two milks, were the price of the mission. Sadly, of course, none of this evidence survived the day - in fact the cookies were a huge hit at the rally!

All in all, a successful Decadence Day!

** UPDATE **

For a second AAR, and more pics, go visit Snarkatron (BCR).

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Linky goodness

I've been meaning to get up a linky post, since I'm so far behind on blogging. (But there is a new post below this one!!)

Are you mad yet about the rough treatment of Michael Yon by Hachette (HFM) over their misuse of his photograph? If you aren't, then you aren't following the story. Check out the Huntress, she's got the Shock and Awe for you.

Blackfive provides a way to send condolences to the families of Thomas Tucker, Kristian Menchaca, and David Babineau, via Soldiers' Angels.

Fuzzybear Lioness reported on the success of the Project Valour-IT fund raising - over $18K raised! Awesome - Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Bloodspite has a request - and it's not for himself. If you can help, bless you.

The Armorer of Argghhh! shares a letter from Homefront6, wife of a soldier set to deploy, written to Lt. Watada, who has refused his duty to deploy. I'd say that's a direct hit!

Check out the latest on the movie The War Tapes ...

Dear War Tapes Community:

Thanks to your support, The War Tapes opened strongly in NYC. Theatres around the country are starting to call us-- In the last week we have added 15 additional cities! Two new theatres in NYC are showing it now (please see below or here for a full list of the screenings). We don't have Hollywood money so we have little ads but lots of friends. Please forward this e-mail to as many people as you can and ask them to see the preview at: /trailer

And then go see the movie. We have a new clip (the 13th clip we've put on the site!) with Zack and Mike discussing to Abu Ghraib scandal. You can find the clip here: /2006/06/abu_ghraib.shtml

Please welcome Wayne of Savannah Daydreamin' to the blogosphere. He's been to Iraq, he's a helicopter pilot, and he has lots of videos and attitude (might not be safe - depending on your workplace ... Ry, watch out!).

Operation Support Our Troops is planning a pro-troops rally to show our support for the soldiers preparing to deploy from Ft. Lewis:
It's time for all of us to speak out loud and clear again – Never again! Never again will our Troops be treated the way our Vietnam Veterans were treated! Never again will we turn our backs on the men and women who serve our country so honorably!

Please join OSOT on June 24 to show the soldiers at Fort Lewis that we support them and their mission. The 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of Fort Lewis is deploying for the second time to Iraq – be there to show them we care!!

When: Saturday, June 24, 2006
Where: Exit 119 off I-5 (DuPont Gate Entrance to Fort Lewis)
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

... Guess where Bad Cat Robot and I plan to be on Saturday?

Here's your WMD

WMD's in Iraq? According to Senator Rick Santorum, there are documents which describe WMD discoveries that started in 2003. You and I didn't hear about them, because they were classified. He held a little press conference today to discuss the declassified summary about the discoveries.

Senator Santorum Makes Major Announcement Regarding Newly Declassified Information Concerning Chemical Weapons Discovered in Iraq

June 21, 2006
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, joined Congressman Peter Hoekstra, (R-MI-2), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, today to make a major announcement regarding the release of newly declassified information that proves the existence of chemical munitions in Iraq since 2003. The information was released by the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, and contained an unclassified summary of analysis conducted by the National Ground Intelligence Center. In March, Senator Santorum began advocating for the release of these documents to the American public.

“The information released today proves that weapons of mass destruction are, in fact, in Iraq,” said Senator Santorum. “It is essential for the American people to understand that these weapons are in Iraq. I will continue to advocate for the complete declassification of this report so we can more fully understand the complete WMD picture inside Iraq.”

Here is the gist of the report (online at Foxnews):

• Since 2003 Coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain degraded mustard or sarin nerve agent.

• Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq’s pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist.

• Pre-Gulf War Iraqi chemical weapons could be sold on the black market. Use of these weapons by terrorists or insurgent groups would have implications for Coalition forces in Iraq. The possibility of use outside Iraq cannot be ruled out.

• The most likely munitions remaining are sarin and mustard-filled projectiles.

• The purity of the agent inside the munitions depends on many factors, including the manufacturing process, potential additives, and environmental storage conditions. While agents degrade over time, chemical warfare agents remain hazardous and potentially lethal.

• It has been reported in open press that insurgents and Iraqi groups desire to acquire and use chemical weapons.

So several hundred devices which were presumably in Saddam Hussein's stockpile of illegal WMD's - which may (or may not) have been around since Gulf War I, and are still likely to be lethal - were found in the past 2 years and no one thought we needed to know about it.

Listening to Sen. Santorum, it sounded like there is a lot more behind this limp little summary. As Hugh says, he tip-toed carefully around what he could and couldn't say - but the implication is that the meat of the data will have a much greater impact than these few lines.

HH: Well, you've made some news today, and I'd like to explore with you what exactly was being said, because we can't find the tape. Evidently, you've got some declassified information detailing 500 different shells containing prohibited weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But let me ask you, what did you announce today?

RS: What we announced was that after two and a half months of being aware of this document, we were able to get a copy of the document, and convince the intelligence community to give us a declassified version of the document. It is a very short synopsis, and I would argue incomplete synopsis, but nevertheless, it's vitally important, because what it does say, and I'll quote from it, "since 2003," so since the Iraq War, "coalition forces have recovered approximately 500 weapons munitions which contain mustard or sarin nerve agent."

HH: Who is the document from, Senator Santorum, and to whom was it addressed?

RS: It's from the National Ground Intelligence Center, which is a division of the United States Pentagon. I think it's the Army.

HH: Okay. And to whom was it addressed?

RS: Well, it's a classified report. It's just a report that they published. It's not addressed to anybody. It's a report which is a survey of ongoing recovery of chemical munitions. And what they go on to say is, and I'll quote again from the summary, not the classified report, "despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraq's pre-Gulf War chemical munitions, filled and unfilled pre-Gulf War chemical munitions are assessed to still exist beyond the 500 that they have recovered."

HH: Now of these 500 shells that they have recovered, Senator Santorum, does the document, the unclassified version, tell you in how many batches they were discovered? Was it one? Was it 50 of 100, or one of 500?

RS: You know, I can't talk about what additionally it tells you. All I can tell you is there have been published reports on blog sites about this report...and the published reports say that 75% of these 500 or so weapons were in fact filled and usable, and very dangerous for the...if got to improper hands.

Full transcript and downloadable audio at RadioBlogger

So there were more than 500 found, and the intel points to more. Why not declassify this before now? Hugh has a couple of ideas.

Chapomatic adds to the discussion over at Milblogs. Austin Bay wants to know more as well.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Great news for VALOUR IT!

FbL has updated the numbers over at the Project VALOUR IT blog ... and they look pretty good. Over $14,000 has been donated since last Friday ... WAHOO!! Check it out here.

What kind of impact has this project had so far? The 500th laptop was shipped the other day. That's 500 computers equipped with voice-activation software, in the possession of 500 wounded heroes ... a mighty big impact, I'd say!

So to every person who donated to this great cause - I say Thank You.

If you've been thinking of donating, and just needed a reminder ... here it is. Please go add something to the coffers to keep this wonderful success going. Click on the image to go directly to the Donate Now page for Project VALOUR IT. Or visit the project website, and read more about the project and its successes.

If you are a blogger - please join the effort, and help spread the word. Visit Castle Argghhh! for a list of bloggers who have joined already, and link to the stories - every little bit helps.

Work with us - Donate!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Time to Act - The wounded need Your help

Last year Soldiers'Angels stepped up (again!) and formed Project VALOUR IT [Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops]. This wonderful project provides injured troops from all services with more than just a computer.

Click to Donate

When a Marine or Soldier has suffered brain injuries, or lost parts of their hands or arms, or suffered nerve damage - they are challenged with the simplest tasks at times. Meanwhile, they are often far from their home and loved ones, and the simple act of writing a letter may be a daunting task, or completely impossible.

This is where VALOUR IT steps in, providing not just a laptop and voice control software, but a key to the outside world. It's a means to communicate with friends at home, and back in the battle zones ... a tool for independence ... a place to record daily journals ... a way to see pictures of their family. It is, most importantly, something that will boost their confidence and independence, and help speed their healing.

Sounds great, doesn't it? It is great ... but there are 11 wounded servicemembers on the waiting list right now who need to know how great that feeling can be. The Mayday call came out from Patti Bader last week ... they need $7000 to provide these brave heroes with laptops - and we need your help.

The VALOUR IT blog has some great links to examples of the positive impact these laptops have for their recipients. People like Chuck Ziegenfuss (the inspiration behind the project), Buzz Robertson and others.

Check in with Fuzzybear Lioness, and the Armorer of Argghhh! Or go directly to the Project VALOUR IT site and add some green to the till. Even a few dollars will help, but if you feel like making a big statement, check out the offer John is making ... donate $100, and the first 10 folks to do so (and email John the receipt), will receive a Cluebat of Argghhh!

Heh -- better act fast -- 3 people have jumped in already, and the Cluebats are going fast!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Standing up to the Phelps clan

I went wandering about the web seeking coverage of this day in history, to see what kind of D-Day coverage was to be found.

The answer? Nada … Zip … Zilch.

I didn’t find a thing on MSNBC, USA Today, NY Times, or either of the local papers – nothing about D-Day, that is. A couple had items about the supposed significance of 6/6/06 (registration required for NY Times story), but not as it relates to this date in history. For any coverage of D-Day, you’ll need to visit Milblogs, Castle Argghhh, One Marine’s View, Smash or Blackfive (who has a marvelous compendium of links!).

However, I did find one item that lifted my spirits a bit. After hearing so many stories of the cruel-natured behavior and stupidity of the Phelps band in protesting at the funerals of fallen servicemembers, it was a pleasure to read that one parent has decided that he’s had enough.

Mr. Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew A. Snyder, has filed an invasion of privacy suit against the Westboro Baptist Church, seeking unspecified damages. Matthew Snyder was 20 when he died on March 3, after an accident in the Anbar province of Iraq.

‘I want it to stop’
After filing the suit, Snyder said at a news conference that he hoped a hefty judgment would leave the church members unable to afford travel for more protests.

“I want it to stop,” he said of the protests. “I didn’t know there were people in the world who did that.” (snip)

I expect that the Snyder family will need much support in this effort, because the Phelps clan has demonstrated that they are bad actors, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. If anyone learns of a support effort to help the Mr. Snyder with pursuing the suit, or just a place to leave supportive messages, please leave a comment so that I can link to it.

We owe Matthew, and all the rest of our fallen heroes, nothing less.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Now Hear This!

Capt B. of One Marine's View has given up on Blogspot, and is now located at One Marine's View ( Make sure you update your links so you won't miss the latest updates!