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Marine reservist Owen West's (I hope you're familiar with the name) NY Times piece today is brillaint. I offer two brief excerpts, one:
Somehow Operation Iraqi Freedom, not a large war by America's historical standards, has blossomed into a crisis of expectations that threatens our ability to react to future threats with a fist instead of five fingers. Instead of rallying we are squabbling, even as the slow fuse burns.And two:
...America's conscience is one of its greatest strengths. But self-flagellation, especially in the early stages of a war against an enemy whose worldview is uncompromising, is absolutely hazardous. Three years gone and Iraq's most famous soldiers are Jessica Lynch and Lynndie England, a victim and a criminal, respectively. Abu Ghraib remains the most famous battle of the war.But there's much more - don't miss it. And thanks to Owen's partner (in Vets for Freedom) Wade Zirkle for the tip.
Soldiers are sick of apologizing for a sliver of malcontents who are not at all representative of the new breed. But they are also sick of being pitied. Our warriors are the hunters, not the hunted, and we should celebrate them as we did in the past, for while our tastes have changed, warfare — and the need to cultivate national guardians — has not.
U.S. military authorities did not identify the soldier and the translator who were killed. Six other soldiers were wounded
Who was honored, in particular, at the ceremony at Bluff City Cemetery.
I hope that wasn't a deliberate omission on Google's part. They change their logo for the obscurest of the obscure events. To think that Google would snub Memorial Day on purpose is disheartening.
Glenn Reynolds suggests an alternative - at least for today.
A story with a little more info, including that one U.S. Soldier was also killed in the attack. Story also has a round up of other violence... and a video story on the news crew... Ms Dozier has apparently now been transferred after surgery to Balad...
Story and video HERE
Christopher Hitchens has caused me to cringe on topics funereal. Here he makes an exception and writes on Memorial Day with a thoughtful, informative Wall Street Journal column.
Well worth a read.
Commenter at Smash's decides to take a political dump at a memorial post. Shameful.
CBN’s “700 Club” featured a seven minute TV segment today on HM3 Luis Fonseca Jr., and Home of the Brave: Honoring the Unsung Heroes in the War on Terror. I was so pleased with the job CBN did in presenting HM3 Fonseca's story and giving him the respect and admiration he is due. During the writing of Home of the Brave , Cap and I never ceased to be amazed by the humility these men and women displayed during interviews. That humility comes through in this TV segment.
To view the video segment, simply click HERE and then click “Watch it Now”
May all those who have served and their families have a blessed Memorial Day.
...the war goes on in Iraq.
And two CBS employees, cameraman Paul Douglas, 48, and soundman James Brolan, 42, were killed, and reporter Kimberly Dozier, 39, is in critical condition at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad after undergoing surgery after an IED detonated near their vehicle while in a convoy with the 4th BCT of the 4th Infantry Divsion.
Our condolences to the families of the slain, and our best wishes for survival and recovery for Dozier.
The story is here. Give them credit for not reporting from their hotel, but getting out at the sharp end.
That from Robert Stokely. Today is a difficult day for the Stokely family. Robert was up early this morning, no doubt reflecting on the life and sacrifice of his son, SGT Michael Stokely. Robert sends his thoughts, and thanks, on this Memorial Day.
In the first hours after news of Mike's death came to us last August 16, our family put in motion, with the help of friends, the formation of the Mike Stokely Foundation. It was our family's desire to encourage those who wanted to do something to show support for our family and remember Mike to think about contributing to the Foundation rather than sending us flowers or other presents. The generosity of our friends, and so many others who have heard of the Foundation allowed Mike to be remembered and honored these past few weeks with the awarding of $2,100 of book scholarships to five students headed to college, including two at his former high school. Plans are underway to provide funding from the Foundation to help purchase books for underprivileged children, and for various libraries that had some connection to Mike. Flowers would have died; other presents would have soon been forgotten, but the money contributed to the Foundation has helped purchase a lifetime of learning, and hopefully bring a better life to those who will receive books purchased with Foundation funds. Mike's life was about helping others. Mike's life and memory have become a vehicle to help others, even if only a little and few at a time. The Foundation will not change the world, but it will do what Mike did his whole life and that is do what can be done to make a positive difference in as many lives as possible. For the foreseeable future, the positive difference, in Mike's honor and memory, will continue to be made, thanks to the continued support of so many.All done!
Memorial Day is a day of rememberance. Personally, and for the Mike Stokely Foundation, I thank those who remembered Mike in so many ways, and for those who helped make it financially possible to remember him through helping others, and furthering Mike's passion for reading.
On this Memorial Day, I say this - You can't die for a just cause if you didn't live for one. Mike Stokely is an example of a life lived well and to the fullest. He did not flinch when asked to fight in the service of his country. Throughout his service for his country and with fellow soldiers, even in his final moments, he continued to be a beacon of positive spirit whose big friendly eyes and generous smile were his tradmark. While others debated, he served. Mike Stokely died in the same way he lived - devoted to God, Family, Duty, Honor, Country. No less, he died in the same way he lived, looking out for others, as he watched the back of two friends and fellow soldiers. Mike Stokely lived for such just causes and willing sacrificed his life just because of them. How much more just a cause can there be?
I will remember those who serve in the lineage of service that keeps our country free and safe, for they serve while others debate. Their just cause of service is not found in the politics of debate, but in the answer of the call to Duty, Honor, Country - a duty to honor and obey the lawful orders of their Commander-in-Chief and thereby serve the Country they each love dearly enough to be willing to give their very life. I am thankful for those willing to serve, especially those who gave their life. I am ever thankful that so many return alive. God Bless America. Thank you God for those willing to answer the call of their country and the just cause they serve - Duty, Honor, Country.
proud dad, SGT Mike Stokely
KIA IED Yusufiyah Iraq 8/16/05
Vietnam-era Marine deuddersun (he always spells his name in lower case) sends this warning about a MySpace page. It poses as a tribute to Marines, but is embedded with malware designed to wreck your system.
Be warned, and on guard.
At Castle Argghhh! we conclude our Memorial Day series with "Memorial Day 2006 - Taking Back the Holiday"
... this Memorial Day, please permit me to offer the use of my latrine.
Email from Tim Sumner:
Hard to believe this story appeared where it did and the ending of it was written the way it was:"Who are you masked men?" asked an old-timer in the red garrison cap of the Marine Corps League.-- Tim
"Patriot Guard Riders," Mr. Deale explained.
"Well, it's impressive," the old-timer said. "Very impressive."
Then the dead man's mother walked the line of riders and, with her son's flag tucked beneath her arm, shook each and every hand.
It's kind of sad. They change their homepage logo for all sorts of holidays and occasions. Just last week they paid tribute to Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday. But Memorial Day doesn't seem to rate anything at all.Silly Jonah, doesn't he realize they've all got the day off? That's what it's all about, after all.
Yo, pass me a beer.
From "Remarks delivered on Saturday evening in Arlington, Virginia, at the Memorial Day weekend seminar and grief camp of TAPS -- the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. " Published at The American Spectator here:
...The sacrifice your loved ones made, the sacrifice you made, that your kids made, is what makes the whole American world safe from terror.
Your loved ones' lives had what we all want: meaning. The knowledge you were doing something big for others. That is EVERYTHING in life.
Wall Street does not have it. Hollywood does not have it. They're just in it for the fame and the money.
Your loved ones were in it for unselfishness, for kindness, for love of one's fellow man. There is no higher meaning on this earth.
The media try to rob your husbands' and wives' and kids' lives of meaning saying this war is not about anything.
They're wrong and they say what they say because they don't see the truth. They print a story on the front page about Marines killing civilians in a town in Iraq and if they did, it was wrong. But the big media never report a MARINE throwing himself on a bomb to protect an Iraqi child, or a Marine giving his life to rid a town of murderers or a Marine or an Army man or woman or a Navy Seal or a Coast Guardsman offering up his life so that Iraqi human beings can have the same freedoms and rights we take for granted here in America.
The media are like grave robbers, robbing you of the certain knowledge that your spouses gave their lives for something deeply worthwhile: human dignity.
Your loved ones' lives and deaths had as much meaning at the lives and deaths of every American who died for freedom from Valley Forge to the Battle of the Bulge to Cho-Sin Reservoir to the Cu Chi tunnels to the Balkans to Kabul, Afghanistan, to Falluja, Iraq.
And if the media doesn't know it, every other American does. This is a very difficult fight, but the ordinary American knows what your loved ones have done and respects them.
When it comes to the war on terror, Dobbs is on our side. Take a look at the topic lines in these transcripts and you'll see what I mean. Where others highlight the number of deaths, Dobbs headlines "U.S. Forces in Fierce Fighting With Taliban in Afghanistan".
And his weekly "Heroes" segments shouldn't be missed - they're an exception to the national media blackout on such stories. I put a couple examples from this month in the extended section.
And now "Heroes," our weekly tribute to our brave men and women in uniform serving around the world. Tonight we honor the leadership of Marine Captain Christopher Bronzi. His courage and bravery in battle against insurgents in Iraq have earned him the country's third highest award for heroism in combat.Marines Give During And After Battle
Peter Viles reports.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, save your ammo until you've got a target.
PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): April 6, 2004, the Marines of Golf Company were badly outnumbered. Part of the 2nd Battalion 4th Marines, they had been sent to Ramadi to put down the rising insurgency.
Captain Christopher Bronzi was the Gold Company commander, confident his young Marines were equal to the task but concerned about mounting casualties.
CAPT. CHRISTOPHER BRONZI, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I was just trying to keep them focused on the fight at hand because every individual Marine, their combat meant something.
VILES: As Bronzi led his men into the city, they were surrounded, outnumbered, at risk of being pinned down by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The fire fight would last for two days.
BRONZI: I ultimately wound up echeloning my entire company into the fight. And because the fight grew, you know, the numbers vary. I know the amount of enemy that we confirmed that we killed was well over 300.
VILES: In the middle of the shooting, Bronzi boldly put himself in the line of fire, leading a group of Marines into an exposed street to recover the body of a fallen comrade.
BRONZI: I was very proud of my marines, especially with the intensity of the combat, how they performed. The entire company was in the fight on the first day. That night they cleaned up their weapons, they restocked their ammo, and they went right back outside the gate the day for virtually the same scenario.
VILES: Bronzi credits his men, but the secretary of the Navy has now credited Bronzi for his leadership of those men. His citation describes "zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty."
BRONZI: That was the most professionally rewarding experience of my life because I feel like I saw the Marine Corps in its finest hour, at least my little piece of the Marine Corps.
VILES: Peter Viles for CNN reporting. (END VIDEOTAPE)
DOBBS: Captain Bronzi returned home safely in September of 2004 and continues to serve the nation in the United States Marine Corps.
Turning now to the war in Iraq, four of our Marines have been killed in an accident in Al Anbar Province west of Baghdad. The Marines were crewmen in a M-1 Abrams tank. The tank rolled off a bridge and fell into a canal. Two thousand four hundred and thirty four of our troops have now died in Iraq since the war began three years ago.All done!
"Heroes" now, our weekly tribute to the brave men and women who serve this nation around the world. Tonight we go to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and meet Marines who bravely gave for their country on the battlefield and now give to one another after the battle.
Barbara Starr has the story.
BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is morning formation for wounded Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. They sit because some cannot stand. Glenn Minney struggles with a Mother's Day card. A mortar damaged his eyes, but this medic is still the doc. PETTY OFF. GLENN MINNEY, U.S. NAVY CORPSMAN: That's my job. I'm going continue to do it as long as I can, blind or not.
STARR: In this remarkable place, Marines help each other just as on the battlefield.
GUNNERY SGT. KEN BARNES, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I have a leg injury and I can't get my room vacuumed. One of the guys will be hey, I got no problem, I've got you. You're still required with a leg injury to keep your clothes picked up and all your trash picked up.
STARR: An IED left Gunnery Sergeant Ken Barnes with nerve damage. He knows Marines don't want to need help.
BARNES: That's one of the things that's really nice about this place is you can say, hey, can you give me a hand? And they are immediately on. There are four or five guys that will be standing there waiting to help, but you've got to ask for it.
STARR: Sergeant Karl Klepper's ankle was crushed by a roadside blast.
SGT. KARL KLEPPER, U.S. MARINE CORPS: We're all broken up. We're all beaten up here, but we're not broken, our spirits aren't broken.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He helps me at math. We call him Sergeant K.
STARR: As part of their rehab, Klepper and others help at the base school.
(on-camera): The Marines here today and these children have an unshakable bond, perhaps only they can understand. Many of these young students now have parents serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
BRANDON, 1ST GRADER: The Marines help us think about what we can write about and what we can help, so we can do good at math and writing.
STARR (voice-over): Lieutenant Colonel Tim Maxwell has a brain injury from a mortar attack. He started the barracks so Marines could recover together.
LT. COL. TIM MAXWELL, U.S. MARINE CORPS: They come here, stay for just a couple of days and see other Marines are wounded and how far they are in life. Instead of going home with their mom and dad and wondering, I wonder what it means to get shot in the leg. I don't know what that means in three months. Here, he'll see.
STARR (on-camera): The Marines see this extraordinary unit will keep going as long as any wounded warrior needs a place to recover.
Barbara Starr, CNN, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
DOBBS: And we wish them all the very best.
There may be a lot to regret about the past policy of the United States in the Middle East, but the removal of Saddam Hussein and the effort to birth democracy in his place is surely not one of them. And we should remember that this Memorial Day.
A geography more uninviting for our soldiers than Iraq cannot be imagined — 7,000 miles away, surrounded by Baathist Syria, Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, and theocratic Iran. The harsh landscape rivals the worst of past battlefields — blazing temperatures, wind, and dust. The host culture that our soldiers faced was Orwellian — a society terrorized by a mass murderer for 30 years, who ruled by alternately promising Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish collaborationists that cooperation meant only that fewer of their own would die.
The timing was equally awful — in an era of easy anti-Americanism in Europe, and endemic ingratitude in the Muslim world that asks nothing of itself, everything of us, and blissfully forgets the thousands of Muslims saved by Americans in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Somalia, and the billions more lavished on Jordanians, Palestinians, and Egyptians.
And here at home? There are few Ernie Pyles in Iraq to record the heroism of our soldiers; no John Fords to film their valor — but legions to write ad nauseam of Abu Ghraib, and to make up stories of flushed Korans and Americans terrorizing Iraqi women and children.
Yet here we are with an elected government in place, an Iraqi security force growing, and an autocratic Middle East dealing with the aftershocks of the democratic concussion unleashed by American soldiers in Iraq.
Reading about Gettysburg, Okinawa, Choisun, Hue, and Mogadishu is often to wonder how such soldiers did what they did. Yet never has America asked its youth to fight under such a cultural, political, and tactical paradox as in Iraq, as bizarre a mission as it is lethal. And never has the American military — especially the U.S. Army and Marines — in this, the supposedly most cynical and affluent age of our nation, performed so well.
We should remember the achievement this Memorial Day of those in the field who alone crushed the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, stayed on to offer a new alternative other than autocracy and theocracy, and kept a targeted United States safe from attack for over four years.
Thank you, Victor. Some of us remember.
Be sure to catch the Lou Dobbs show (CNN) tonight at 6:00 p.m. EST. Dobbs will air a segment about the Friday night dinners for our wounded troops. The segment will feature some footage from the Glenn Beck show that aired a couple of weeks ago, but will also include some recent updates.
Attention all enterprising milbloggers:
CNN's "victims or villains only” portrayal of our military notwithstanding, CNN has now graciously invited us, the unwashed peasantry, to submit photos, videos, and stories about our men and women in-country. How cool would it be to flood the CNN inbox with milblogger stories and photos, all of which would provide a markedly more positive and uplifting view of those who serve?
Let the revolution begin...
In today's Washington Post, Ilario Pantano takes on John Murtha.
In the United States, we have a civil and military court system that relies on an investigatory and judicial process to make determinations based on evidence. The system is not served by such grand pronouncements of horror and guilt without the accuser even having read the investigative report.
Mr. Murtha's position is particularly suspect when he is quoted by news services as saying that the strain of deployment "has caused them [the Marines] to crack in situations like this." Not only is he certain of the Marines' guilt but he claims to know the cause, which he conveniently attributes to a policy he opposes.
Meanwhile, Murtha is taking on the entire Chain of Command, and his new mantra is "cover up." Murtha appeared on This Week with George Stephanopolous this morning. He said, and I'm paraphrasing, that if the Marine's "get away with it", other Marines would feel they could "do the same thing." Absurd, reprehensible and a slap in the face to honorable Marines. Such a suggestion indicates just how little regard John Murtha has for members of our Armed Forces. This, on the eve of Memorial Day.
Pantano is correct, these Marines are deserving of a presumption of innocence and a fair trial. Perhaps the facts are as Murtha claims, but his constant use of this situation to bolster his opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom is vulgar. If these Marines are guilty, they will be dealth with appropriately.
While the rest of us find ourselves disgusted with Murtha of late, I'm sure his new friends are very proud of him.All done!