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On lifting the ban of photographing coffins at Dover:
If you read my blog, you would know that in Oct. '05, our youngest son, Noah had the honor of escorting his good friend and brother SPC Thomas Byrd to his final rest. He accompanied Tommy from Dover to Chicago to Tucson. He and I spoke a number of times before, during and after his mission. He spoke (and I blogged) of the kindness and the respect of those he came in contact with on his journey. I told the story of Tommy and Noah's last journey together [on my blog].
Because our son had been wounded and returned stateside a few weeks before, he was not there when the IED took Tommy and four other brothers in his squad. When he first learned that he had been granted the honor of taking Tommy home, he told me that when they all went off to war, they promised each other that they would bring each other home. "This isn't how we thought it would happen, Ma." To our son, the opportunity to greet his friend at Dover and have that private reunion with him and the interactions as they transferred between planes and when they reached their final destination were moments that would not be -- nor could they ever be -- the same if the media were present and snapping away.
The final minutes with his friend were solemn and special and private moments that are -- and should remain -- reserved for those who understand the sacrifice. They do not have to personally know the soldier, but they do have to BE a soldier or family to understand. And understanding in this case is just not the same as knowing.
All of it at Some Soldier's Mom (with links)
WASHINGTON - For the third consecutive year, a classified Pentagon assessment has concluded there is a significant risk that the US military could not respond quickly and fully to any new crisis, the Associated Press has learned.
Senior military officials spoke about the report on condition of anonymity because it is a classified document.
On the other hand, if the report really isn't classified in the sense that those in the military or the [professional] Intelligence community might understand (that would exclude DiFi HERE and HERE among other places calling her out) but is, instead, only confidential until sent to Congress (whose members can't keep a secret and haven't the wherewithal to parse through more than the media's opinion of legislation and all things governmental (the Congressional Recovery Assistance Program, for example) and this report has been leaked to underscore the stupidity and folly of calling for budget cuts to force readiness initiatives in the DoD budget... well, then OK. But CLASSIFIED?? CLASSIFIED??
And lastly, the truly important part of the assessment isn't that the military is stretched thin, but these:
The assessment finds that the United States continues to face persistent terrorist threats...and
This year's assessment finds many of the same global security issues as previous years - ranging from terrorist organizations and unstable governments to the potential for high-tech cyber attacks.and
"This is a chairman who looks around the world and sees - right now, today - immediate, near-term problems like North Korea, the larger questions of Pakistan and its future, Iran and what is going on there, Russia and Georgia, Venezuela, which has a close relationship with Russia and is buying arms all over the place, and Cuba," Goure said.
x-posted at Some Soldier's Mom
We both realized that our military blogs tended to delve into non-military political topics and we want to avoid that. In an effort to keep our political views and our military views separate, we set up this site and have invited some great talent.
Be warned: this will NOT be a strictly conservative site. All military bloggers from both sides of the political fence are invited to write. As an example, one of the writers will be Army Sergeant, an active IVAW member. We are also opening up memberships to any military personnel or veterans with a blog that also wants to keep the non-military political tendencies where they are most fitting.
...reason #97: "Because our freaking meteorologists are hardcore badass":
2/12/2009 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- In an instant, Senior Airman Alex Eudy went from battling the enemies of Afghanistan to battling for his life.
It was just after 1 a.m. Jan. 24. He was only two months into his first deployment after graduating from Advanced Skills Training at Hurlburt Field, Fla., in September 2008. The special operations weather team journeyman and the Marines he served with were on patrol about 30 miles from their firebase in the western province of Farah.
Behind the wheel of the fourth of four up-armored humvees, Airman Eudy and the five others in his vehicle kept their eyes peeled for variations in the road surface, exposed wires, freshly dug soil - "scab left" or "scab right" they called out. The driver adjusted his path of travel accordingly to mitigate the threat to the special operations patrol.
Then the roadway erupted.
Two 155 mm mortars and a Soviet anti-tank mine were command detonated under the front of the vehicle. The engine flew 30 feet away as the six-ton rig somersaulted three times. The concussion of the blast rendered Airman Eudy unconscious.
His personal protective gear had done its job - no puncture wounds or lacerations from flying debris. In the violence of the explosion, his helmet chinstrap had sawed through the skin on his lower jaw. Everything else seemed fine - except his legs.
When he came to, he said he was lying nearby outside the vehicle - he thought he'd been thrown out.
"My Marines told me when they pulled me out of the vehicle, they could hear the bones crunching," the 22-year-old warrior said. "Of the six of us in that vehicle, I was one of the two who were non-ambulatory."
So Airman Eudy became the casualty collection point as the Marine special ops team set a defensive perimeter and requested med-evac airlift. He didn't just lie there, Airman Eudy said. He checked his buddies and put his Combat Lifesaver first aid training to work. He checked his weapon - the 9 mm pistol was still in its holster, but his M-4 rifle had been lost in the explosion.
In the hours and days after the explosion, Alex's parents, Dale and Kathy Eudy of Highlands Ranch, Colo., spoke with Alex and others involved in the convoy, medical evacuation, treatment and travel back to the states.
Despite dozens of fractures from both knees down, the special ops weatherman kept his mission focus, Dale said. With a medical evacuation helicopter, Alex's special operations weather team mission was paramount.
"When the med-evac was inbound, Alex was telling his Marines how to use his instruments to pass critical weather data for the helicopter landing zone," Dale said.
"That's what we do - generate high-fidelity, localized, mission-tailored forecast to for ingress, employment and egress of air, land and sea forces," Alex said.
His training and discipline had earned him his gray beret, fulfilling a dream he'd held as a 17-year-old. Now it would bolster him for survival and recovery.
"When the med-evac helicopter touched down, the flight medical technician knelt down to Alex who was strapped down on the stretcher," Dale said. "'We're gonna take care of you, he said. You're going to be okay.'"
In triage later that morning, Alex said he heard the doctor saying, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The quote by Sir Edmund Burke is tattooed on Alex's back.
"That's why we're here," Alex said. "That's why special tactics is so important. We can't sit around and let evil triumph."
Less than 10 days after the explosion, Alex was lying in a waiting room in the hospital at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. -- swaddled from the knees down in bandages, bones pinned, screwed and grafted. He was surrounded by family and friends - "and everyone is Alex's friend," Kathy said.
Lt. Gen. Donny Wurster, the Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, stopped in to present the bed-ridden, post-op Airman with The Purple Heart and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
The only time Alex's "eyes leaked," as he put it, was when he offered tribute to his fellows who were wounded with him and to the Marines who had adopted him as one of their own.
They adopted him, as they do all special operations battlefield Airmen, because despite their high-operations tempo, these Airmen seamlessly integrate with their sister service brothers.
"We're in the field in direct contact with enemy fighters and friendly air assets, keeping them abreast of real-time conditions on the target," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Gilbert, 10th Combat Weather Squadron operations NCO in charge.
Despite the months of painful healing, rehabilitation and reliance on others, he is not dissuaded.
"Wallowing in sorrows doesn't do anybody any good," Alex said. "I'm not out of the fight. This is just a different kind of fight."
He approaches his recovery just like any other mission.
"Just like we pack our gear for a mission, I know what's going on with my treatment," he said. "I'm packing my tools for a different battlefield. As a patient, I'll never be uneducated - I'll know my treatment options and medications." He hopes his recovery will lead him to the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Alex said there is a chance he will not return to duty as a fully functioning and deployable special operations weather team member. Regardless, his special tactics brethren offer unflagging support to Alex and his family. That camaraderie - seemingly forged in the DNA of special tactics Airmen - will carry Alex down the road to recovery, he said.
"They become your family and families intertwine," Alex said. "In special tactics, you're held to a higher calling. It's something more that protects you, not only on the battlefield, but on the home front as well."
Time will tell whether Airman Eudy wins his battle to regain his former mobility. Vast challenges lay ahead, but Alex Eudy - Airman, warrior, friend - is keeping his eyes forward to win the next battle.
« All done!
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL -- Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Donny Wurster, pins the Air Force Combat Action Medal to Senior Airman Alex Eudy's shirt during an informal ceremony at the hospital here Feb. 3. Airman Eudy also received The Purple Heart for injuries he received during his deployment in Afghanistan. An improvised explosive device destroyed the vehicle he and five other U.S. military members were traveling in Jan. 23. All six survived the attack. Airman Eudy, a special operations weatherman in the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, FL, is on the mend and in good spirits after extensive surgery to his lower legs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Chief Master Sgt. Ty Foster)