Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Medal of Honor awarded to Bruce P. Crandall

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Major Bruce P. Crandall distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism as a Flight Commander in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company A, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 14 November 1965, his flight of sixteen helicopters was lifting troops for a search and destroy mission from Plei Me, Vietnam, to Landing Zone X-Ray in the la Drang Valley. On the fourth troop lift, the airlift began to take enemy fire, and by the time the aircraft had refueled and returned for the next troop lift, the enemy had Landing Zone X-Ray targeted. As Major Crandall and the first eight helicopters landed to discharge troops on his fifth troop lift, his unarmed helicopter came under such intense enemy fire that the ground commander ordered the second flight of eight aircraft to abort their mission. As Major Crandall flew back to Plei Me, his base of operations, he determined that the ground commander of the besieged infantry batallion desperately needed more ammunition. Major Crandall then decided to adjust his base of operations to Artillery Firebase Falcon in order to shorten the flight distance to deliver ammunition and evacuate wounded soldiers. While medical evacuation was not his mission, he immediately sought volunteers and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, led the two aircraft to Landing Zone X-Ray. Despite the fact that the landing zone was still under relentless enemy fire, Major Crandall landed and proceeded to supervise the loading of seriously wounded soldiers aboard his aircraft. Major Crandall's voluntary decision to land under the most extreme fire instilled in the other pilots the will and spirit to continue to land their own aircraft, and in the ground forces the realization that they would be resupplied and that friendly wounded would be promptly evacuated. This greatly enhanced morale and the will to fight at a critical time. After his first medical evacuation, Major Crandall continued to fly into and out of the landing zone throughout the day and into the evening. That day he completed a total of 22 flights, most under intense enemy fire, retiring from the battlefield only after all possible service had been rendered to the Infantry battalion. His actions provided critical resupply of ammunition and evacuation of the wounded. Major Crandall's daring acts of bravery and courage in the face of an overwhelming and determined enemy are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

Congratulations, sir ... and Thank You!

Monday, February 26, 2007

War and Weariness

Fellow Denizen Ry started something over at Castle Argghhh, with his views on what it is exactly that we 'normals' (ie., civilians) have to feel tired about regarding Iraq, in response to Murdoc's post America is at the mall. Be sure to read the responses to Ry, as the comments generated cover some interesting ground.

As I wandered about, exercising the new links in my sidebar, I was intrigued by the viewpoint from Joel Maxwell on the whole debate in Washington. From his position in Afghanistan, where he is deployed, Joel ponders on the politics, and has some good questions ... which don't have clear cut answers.

On her own blog, his wife Amy was kind enough to point to several posts by military Chaplains. I was especially intrigued by Chaplain Christian's post The Dichotomy. His words are worth reading in their entirety, but this bit resonated strongly with me...

I am called to nourish the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead. I can do that regardless of what I think about the politics behind the war. Yet, I also happen to think the war is the right thing to be doing. That doesn’t make my job worthwhile, but it certainly makes it more worthwhile. I hope that makes sense. It would be much more difficult to do my job if I thought what we were doing was wrong, or evil.

Yet, this is what the public projects on us. If you say the war in immoral, and that we came for the wrong reasons, and that we’re doing the wrong thing, you have to understand that it will affect those actually conducting the war!

I added my own thoughts to each of these conversations. But I'd rather leave you with the thoughts of Kat-Missouri, who nailed it (again) better than I could.

I'll sum it up:

War sucks.
Death sucks.
Seeing mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, wives crying over a flag draped coffin sucks.
Looking at pictures of 18 year olds who will never see 19 sucks.
Knowing you can't be there to help them carry the load sucks.
Trying to figure out what's going on and not getting the whole picture sucks.
Knowing that all of this sucks and you still believe we should do it because, while it all sucks, what you imagine happens next sucks more.
Knowing that tomorrow, our representative republic could decide to leave either or both fronts and leave hundreds of thousands of people to die (if not millions - some of who have become friends through organizations and internet) sucks.

It all sucks.

Tomorrow, here and there, we will wake up and do it again like an ugly groundhog day.

Sometimes I am angry, sometimes I am sad, sometimes I am energized. It is those ups and downs that make me weary. Still, most days I only feel resolute. I suck it all in and add it to that resolution, because we aren't done until the mission is done.

Still, it sucks.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Milbloggies - Pick your favs

I've logged my Milbloggie votes -- now it's your turn. Go vote for your choice in each of the categories. The voting closes on the 27th, so don't waste any time! Yes, you will need to register with Milblogging.com in order to cast votes.

After I finished selecting my choices, I scanned the Recently Updated list to see what was new. And wandered right into two blogs owned by Amy and Joel Maxwell. Joel is an officer in the Army Reserve, currently activated and deployed in Afghanistan, and just barely arrived in country. His post on separating from his family went straight to my heart. I couldn't help but grin as I read his wife Amy's blog post describing herself and their family, especially as I read her 'Lessons Learned'. I have the feeling that Chaplain Candidate Maxwell is going to bring comfort to many a soldier in her career! But first, she and the children must make it through Joel's Deployment.

This is the kind of spirit and service that both humbles me, and makes me incredibly grateful. Thank you, Amy and Joel.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Vietnam Vet to be awarded MOH

As highlighted in the H&I post at Argghhh and at the Dumb Ox Daily News...

Major Bruce P. Crandall
A Company, 1, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)
MAJ Bruce P. Crandall will receive the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony February 26, 2007 for his heroic actions in the Battle of Ia Drang.

Major Bruce P. Crandall

If you've read the book We Were Soldiers Once, and Young, or watched the movie We Were Soldiers, you may recognize the name as that of the helicopter pilot / commander who brought in troops and evacuated the wounded during the battle of Ia Drang.

As I read more about this hero, I learned that he's a Washington native and current resident. I also found the terrific web site that his family created for him as a Father's Day surprise in 2001 -- all about Bruce "Snake" Crandall the Soldier, as well as the Husband, Hero, Leader, and more.

Congratulations, LTC (ret) Crandall. It's about time!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Supporting the Troops

Walt Gaya has a must read about a Tacoma woman who works glass to make art and touch hearts. Go read his Hearts of Hope post, and find out why she has a huge PG&E gas bill to pay.
[Cross-posted at the Castle H&I Fires post today.]

I've also been catching up on Michael Yon's latest dispatches, of which there are many:
The Hands of God
Desolate Roads - part 1 of 2
Desolate Roads - part 2 of 2
Walking the Line Part 3
Walking the Line Part 2
Walking the Line Part 1

Mike is doing important work ... as an independent. If you have a few bucks, he can use the bump in his donation bucket.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fisking Arkin

In the Castle Argghhh H&I post today, John pointed out a post by Dusty that I'd managed to miss. (Yeah, Boq - 50 lashes with the wet noodle). Dusty's fisking of Arkin for his blathering and stupid statements on supporting the troops is a must-read ... go now.

Also not to be missed is Cassandra's two part take : Original and Part Deux.

For down to earth straight forward smack-downs, though, don't miss Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive.

*** UPDATE ***

Francis Marion, who is currently serving with Army SF in the Philippines adds his viewpoint on Arkin and others of his ilk. His reasons for serving speak volumes:

"Some call me a mercenary just because I receive a – less than honest – wage. Can I apologize now for needing some money to live on? If I had alternative means to support my family, I would still be here even without pay if necessary because the job must be done! I have walked on foreign soil and have seen the price paid by those who do not stand up against despots and I will not lay that burden on my children."

[emphasis added]

Go ... read the whole thing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I'm not Weird!

I've been tagged by Fuzzybear Lioness, and challenged to reveal 6 weird things about myself. (Yes, Bill -- only six ... what's yer point?)

1. I don't bite my fingernails, but I nibble on the skin around them - and sometimes draw blood by accident.

2. When I travel, I like to pack for the return the night before, no matter how late that means I get to sleep. Otherwise I can't sleep at all.

3. I love picking out postcards on trips, but I almost never mail them. They're for *me*, don't ya know!

4. I'm an electronic pack rat - saving almost every email I get from my friends and family. (Blackmail is easier that way)

5. My desk at home lives in a semi-permanent state of disorder. I pile assorted stuff on it daily : mail received, books, bits and pieces of ongoing projects, etc. Now and again, the clutter reaches some unknown trigger point, and I can't stand it anymore .... and it all gets sorted through and put away. This pristine state will last a day or two, and then the cycle starts all over again.

6. For true bloggy weirdness - I select the taggees before I complete the meme.

So, the taggees for this little exercise are SWWBO (since she's so organized now *grin*), Murray (because of his comment at the Castle), Wayne, Bad Cat Robot, blogspawn America's Son, and AirborneVet.

None of whom are weird ... so I can't wait to hear what *they* consider weird!

By the way, if you want to compare weirdness, be sure to check out Bill and John's entries at the Castle ... I am but an egg compared to them ... *grin*