2011 has been quite a year. I know for that for many it has not been a good year. Looked at one way, it has been what I would consider the worst year of my own life. There are many reasons for that, for myself and for others.
Yet, looked at another way, it has been one of the best years of my life -- and much of that is because of blogging and you, the readers. Without blogging, I would never have met Matt or otherwise become a member of this blog. My embeds to Iraq would never have happened, and Cooking with the Troops would never have come about; and, without your support, we could not have done what we've done.
Given that 2011 has redefined the term "embrace the suck" for far too many of us, I offer this wish for 2012: May the best of 2011 be the worst we face in the new year, and may 2012 be filled with health, happiness, joy, and prosperity for all of good will. May our enemies lament our good fortune, and be turned from their path; and, may those that do not turn find themselves no longer our problem. May our friends share in our good fortune; and, may we share with those of deserving need.
May 2012 be a good one. Be safe out there this evening with all the amateurs about, and enjoy the new year.
If that's the case, then quite a few of us are in trouble. In fact, I would say almost everyone with a blog qualifies to some degree or another. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long stood up for the rights of those involved in new and social media. As politicians and the law have struggled to understand and come to terms with the changes created by technology, and within media technology itself, the EFF has been there. They have helped champion justice in the electronic frontier, and supported those who blogged anonymously for personal safety -- an important thing. They have helped some of those in the milblog community I do believe. Personally, I've been glad for it and encouraged support for it.
However, this morning I read something rather disturbing over at the Jawa Report. It started with this story about an anti-jihad blogger pulling a fast one on someone determined to out him. It quickly morphed into something more, best seen here.
Jillian York is on the staff of the EFF, as Director for International Freedom of Expression. Her comments in support of outing the anti-jihad blogger because he was an "a****le" are in direct contradiction to the policy of EFF, and all previous precedent. As they appear to have been made in her official capacity, and not personal, I was concerned enough that I e-mailed some of the leadership of the EFF to ask some questions. Questions that included asking if she was, indeed, speaking in official capacity for the EFF.
So far, I've only heard back from member of the Board of Directors Brad Templeton, who responded with "If you have a problem with Jillian, bring it to the attention of her superior. That is not me."
The lack of response to the questions, and the response of Mr. Templeton, do not inspire confidence. So much so, that unless and until this matter is addressed, I withdraw all support for the EFF and recommend any of you who have or do support them examine the matter and make your own decisions.
I am very well aware that individuals within an organization are entitled to their own opinion -- it's why we have a portion of the bylaws of Cooking with the Troops protecting that. However, we also have provisions in for who can speak for our organization, and what happens if someone claims to without sanction. I'm also well aware that even private, protected speech can have a negative impact on an organization: there's a reason I don't blog about politics much anymore, as I've found it has a negative impact on CwtT.
When someone can be seen as speaking for an organization, they have a much higher level of responsibility to clarify for whom they are speaking. This is not about attacking Jillian York, no matter what Mr. Templeton mistakenly appears to think. It is about clarifying for whom she was speaking, and if this represents a fundamental change to an organization that has done a lot of good for bloggers, online journalists, and others.
Ron Paul will never be President of the US, something we should all be profoundly thankful for. Matter of fact, the only real impact he could have on the race is to run as an independent and throw the election to Obama. There are certainly some principles of fiscal responsibility he has helped bring attention to, but he has far too many batsh*t crazy ideas to ever be trusted with the title of Commander in Chief. Here is the latest reason why.
Defending himself against charges of isolationism, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul told voters in Iowa on Thursday that western sanctions against Iran are "acts of war" that are likely to lead to an actual war in the Middle East.
That wouldn't pass even a freshman quiz on international affairs. Q. What are economic sanctions?
A. Economic sanctions are domestic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas
You will have to help me out if I miss anything vaguely resembling an act of war there or in any of the melange of weak tea proposals advanced to try to stop the advance of the Iranian nuke program. I wish I was missing something, as an act of war is about the only thing likely to slow it down long enough for the Mullahocracy to finally implode. If refusing to trade favorably with a country is an act of war, then by Ron Paul's reckoning I am committing an act of war against him by withholding my vote from him. Jim Hanson officially declares war on Ron Paul 2012 this 30th day of December 2011, a date that will live.....ahhh nevermind.
Now I am not saying we should invade, but at some point someone needs to turn some centrifuges into recycling. This of course assumes you have the common sense to oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons to the certifiably batsh*t crazy. Even that is a bridge too far for Mr. Paul.
Apparently alluding to Israel and its nuclear-weapons arsenal, Paul said that "if I were an Iranian, I'd like to have a nuclear weapon, too, because you gain respect from them."
I'm with you Ron, I don't trust those dirty Joooos either. You gotta show 'em who's boss. Now it is fine to say that Iranians might want to have nukes, heck there are plenty of disrespected dictators and wannabe-much-more-oppressive regimes who would greatly appreciate the bargaining clout a few A bombs bring when extorting satchels (or more properly planefuls) of Danegeld. Just ask the Pakistanis. But that is why any reasonable person should oppose them getting that power. And even more important that the American President grasp that and oppose it with every tool at his disposal and if necessary every weapon in our arsenal.
Isolationism would be fine if the planet wasn't such a hellish place and we didn't need to keep the petty and not-so-petty tyrants and tyannies from boiling over into frenzies of genocide and slaughter. But you see, we do. When the world dials 911, the phone rings at the Pentagon. That doesn't mean we roll tanks every time something awful happens. But it does mean we are still the only ones who can. Hiding our heads in the sand can't change that and we need to act proactively, so we don't need to send in the Marines. Ron Paul would have us sit on the sidelines until Tel Aviv was a parking lot. Sorry but I must disconcur.
Did you know there is a nationwide rampage going on where crazed fanatics with concealed carry permits are slaughtering innocent citizens? Neither did I, but thankfully the NY Times is on the story. With their usual, thoroughly accurate, fact-checked, journalistic professionalism propaganda, they have concocted a faux outrage that simply doesn't add up. National Review Online points out the fallacy.
The New York Times examined the [concealed-carry] permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.
More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter. All but two of the killers used a gun.
All of these numbers are completely meaningless; in any large population, there will be some crime. The only way to see what these numbers mean is to compare concealed-carry holders to the general population. Fortunately, state-level murder data are easy to find.
North Carolina has a statewide murder rate of about 5 per 100,000. Even without counting manslaughter, that’s 25 murders committed per 100,000 North Carolinians every five years. There are about 230,000 valid concealed-carry permits in North Carolina, so by pure chance, you’d expect these folks to be responsible for nearly 60 murders over five years. And yet only ten of them committed murder or manslaughter. Instead of “rais[ing] questions,” the Times has demonstrated yet again that permit holders are more peaceful than the general population.
Shocking The Times pushes a conclusion so divorced from reality. And you just have to love this bit of misdirection.
And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.
OK, I have a question. I know you Times writers are "journalists", but can't anyone in your entire organization do simple math? I mean go to your accounting folks, oh wait, they can only add negative numbers like your plummeting revenue. Aside from the visceral, pants-wetting fear that armed, mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging albeit law-abiding regular Joes walking the streets causes in pantywaist milquetoast liberals, concealed carry is not dangerous. Well, unless you're a bad guy who tries something stupid with one of those regular Joes around. Then it could be painful, perhaps even fatal.
I carried for the best part of ten years. I never once had to pull my weapon in a civilian situation. But I did have the ability and inclination to intervene in some dangerous settings. Knowing that I had the trump card allowed me to de-escalate some violent situations that I may not have intervened in otherwise. That is not a stat the NY Times would care about though, now would they? Nope, they bask in the added safety of the very sheepdogs they deride on the pages of their rag. You're welcome, anyhow, you gutless weasels.
U.S. Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, and members of his visiting delegation prepare to load a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter following a Christmas Day visit to Marines in Garmsir District, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2011. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder
Christmas for the Commandos in Afghanistan was always going to be different - but no one could have predicted just how different.
One minute they were singing carols at dusk beneath a mellow sun in the baked bare wasteland of Helmand province while wearing festive Santa hats, the next they were firing mortars after their Christmas Day service came under attack from the Taliban.
So rapid was the reaction of Royal Marines of 40 Commando that within less than a minute of the first "contact" from the Taliban's machine guns, they had sprinted the 200 metres to their mortar lines and had begun to return fire. And as these remarkable pictures show, such was the urgency there was no time to change their festive head gear into helmets and for 45 minutes they mortared Taliban positions with their ear defenders over their floppy bright red hats - and in one case a Christmas tree hat complete with coloured baubles. A helmet with reindeer antlers and bells was left on the ground in the rush.
Once the skirmish was over - and with no British casualties - the men and women calmly resumed their carol service in virtual darkness around the simple war memorial at Forward Operating Base Inkerman in northern Helmand.
God Bless her Majesty's Royal Marine Commandos and Merry Christmas from the (former) Colonies...
Band of Brothers Nurse Augusta Chiwy - Someone You Should Know - The Night Before XMas in Bastogne
Posted By Blackfive
"A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen." - Augusta Chiwy on her surviving German shells and bullets while rescuing wounded Americans during the Battle of the Bulge
You probably don't know Augusta Chiwy. She just didn't patch up paratroopers...she went out to the battlefield and got shot at picking up wounded troops on litters and shelled and bombed in her own hospital...but you may remember this image from the Band of Brothers series (episode 6)...
"Anna" - the character name - is the the nurse on the right. Her real name is Augusta Chiwy. And her story is pretty damn amazing as told by Martin King - a British author who has spent 20 years in the Ardennes researching the Battle of the Bulge. He provided this article to Army News Service and is working on a book about Augusta Chiwy.
BASTOGNE, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2011 – It was a bitterly cold winter morning when Augusta Chiwy's tram pulled into Brussels Central train station, Dec. 16, 1944.
The aid station where Augusta Chiwy volunteered on the Rue Neaufchateau in Bastogne, Belgium, was destroyed by German bombs on Christmas Eve 1944, killing 30 American soldiers. U.S. Army photo (Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
On that very same day at 5:30 a.m., green troops of the 106th Golden Lion Division were rudely awakened from their winter sojourn by a hellish barrage of incoming artillery shells, "screaming meemies," accompanied by the menacing rumble of Tiger and Panther tanks on the move. Just over the German/Belgian border, out in an area known as the Schnee Eifel, three German armies had assembled almost under the noses of the allies.
Brussels was still alive with commuters going about their daily routines when Chiwy arrived at the train station. She had been working at St. Elizabeth General Hospital in the Flemish town of Louvain and was on her way to visit relatives in Bastogne.
Above the din of collective voices at the station, the public address system droned out monotone information about trains, platforms and destinations, adding that, "There will be no departures for Luxembourg or Bastogne. Passengers wishing to reach these destinations should take the 7:50 to Namur."
Chiwy noticed an inexplicable sense of urgency in many of the assembled passenger's demeanors as she boarded the train for Namur about 30 miles south of Brussels. The train stopped there, and passengers wishing to go to the next destination were herded into open cattle trucks and taken as far as Marche. From there, Chiwy hitched a ride from a GI who took her to the center of Bastogne.
She arrived in Bastogne around 5 p.m. and noticed that it was a hive of activity as news was beginning to filter through of an all-out German attack to the north and east of the city. In anticipation of the approaching storm, Bastogne civilians were leaving in droves and all roads west quickly became gridlocked with a seemingly endless trail of human traffic.
Bastogne was an old market town and natural junction where seven roads converged. The German army's high command had decided many months previous to the actual attack that it was going to be a prime strategic objective, but no one there had expected what was about to occur during the coldest winter in living memory.
Chiwy had already decided that it was best to go to her uncle's house first to see if she could gather some more information on the situation. Her uncle, Dr. Chiwy, had a practice close to the main square and the young nurse wanted to know if she could help out. By that time of night the civilians and military personnel still there could audibly make out the booming sounds of distant artillery shells exploding a few miles away.
Within a few days of her arrival in Bastogne, the U.S. Army had sent reinforcements to the city. The first to arrive were 2,800 men and 75 tanks of the 10th Armored Division. The following day on Dec. 18, the 101st Airborne Division arrived around midnight and almost immediately began taking up positions at the allocated roadblocks around Bastogne in support of the existing teams. These groups proved to be a stubborn barrier that would allow the necessary time to build Bastogne's defenses and prepare for the German army's main assault.
Chiwy set to work as a nurse by assisting both civilian and military wounded wherever she found them. These efforts didn't go unnoticed. GIs from the 10th Armored Division were on the lookout for medical supplies and personnel to assist with their Aid Station on the Rue Neufchateau.
On Dec. 20, Bastogne became a city under siege. The ever-decreasing perimeter had reduced a once-beautiful city to a blood-soaked and battle-ravaged collection of skeletal smoldering ruins. The only safe places were the dank freezing cellars of ruined houses where remaining civilians and soldiers huddled together for safety and warmth. They survived on basic rations and shared whatever supplies they could find. Chiwy hadn't had a warm meal since she left Louvain and had also been reduced to this grim subterranean existence.
On the morning of the Dec. 21, Chiwy left the safety of her uncle's cellar and along with Nurse Renee Lemaire, she volunteered to work for the 20th AIB, 10th Armored Division at the aid station on Rue Neufchateau where Dr. John Prior was in charge. The situation there was desperate. There were hardly any medical supplies, save for a few bags of sulpha powder and a couple of vials of morphine.
While Lemaire helped make the wounded soldiers as comfortable as possible, Chiwy dressed their wounds and never once shied away from the gory trauma of battlefield injuries.
On at least one occasion, Dr. Prior asked Chiwy if she would accompany him to a battle site east of the Mardasson hill. She was wearing a U.S. Army uniform at the time because her own clothes had become so dilapidated and blood stained. She was well aware that if she would have been captured by German forces it would have meant instant death for collaborating with the "Amies," the German name for the American soldiers.
During a raging blizzard Chiwy calmly loaded up onto a deuce-and-a-half and went to the outskirts of Bastogne. When they arrived there, she actually went out onto the battlefield with Dr. Prior and the two litter-bearers to retrieve wounded soldiers.
Mortar shells were falling close by and German heavy machine guns were raking the ground around Chiwy's small frame as she tended the wounded, but despite this she focused on her duties undaunted. Dr. Prior said the bullets missed Augusta because she was so small, to which Chiwy retorted, "A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen."
The skies above Bastogne had cleared on Dec. 23, and C-47s had dropped desperately needed supplies, but the very next day on Christmas Eve, those clear skies gave the German Luftwaffe a chance to send out a few of their remaining bomber squadrons over the city to cause even further death and destruction.
A 500-pound bomb fell directly on the 20th AIB Aid Station, instantly killing 30 wounded U.S. soldiers, along with nurse Renee Lemaire. Chiwy was in the adjacent house with Dr. Prior and a lieutenant when the bomb hit. She was blown clean through a wall, but miraculously survived unscathed.
On the following day, the remaining wounded were taken to the 101st headquarters at the Heintz Barracks where Chiwy worked until they were all evacuated when Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army arrived Dec. 26.
Surviving members of the 10th Armored Division recently signed a letter of appreciation for her service to them during the battle. Her efforts had never been officially recognized until then.
This month, a letter was also received from King Albert II of Belgium stating that he acknowledges Augusta Chiwy's service and will officially recognize her courage and sacrifice during the Battle of the Bulge.
Which brings us to King Albert II's awarding Augusta a knighthood...Alexander O sent me this photo from Friday, June 24th, 2011, of Augusta Chiwy becoming a Knight (Lady) of the Order of the Crown from King Albert II of Belgium. Here is a photo of Lady Chiwy:
Here is a video that Martin King put together.
More about the doctors and nurses at the Bulge after the jump...
1783: Three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington resigns his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
1941: Japanese troops conduct a second landing on Wake Island, supported by carrier-launched airstrikes. After 12 hours of intense fighting, the Marine garrison surrenders. Wake's capture came at a high cost to Japanese forces, however, losing nearly 900 men, two destroyers, two patrol boats, a submarine, and over 20 aircraft at the cost of 12 planes and 50 Marines and sailors.
The Japanese sub I-21 sinks the oil tanker Montebello off the coast of Cayucos, Calif.
Meanwhile, labor and industry leaders agree that there will not be any strikes or lockouts during World War II.
1944: Elements of the 5th Panzer Army bypass the 101st Airborne surrounded at Bastogne, Belgium. A break in the weather allows Allied fighter-bombers to conduct 900 sorties, conducting devastating attacks against German supply depots and allowing aerial resupply of the 101st
1948: Former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo is hanged after the International Military Tribunal for the Far East found him guilty of war crimes. Tojo was responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack. Also hanged are Gen. Iwane Matsui, responsible for the Rape of Nanking, Gen. Heitaro Kimura, responsible for the brutal treatment of Allied prisoners of war, and four others. Overall, around 5,000 Japanese are found guilty of war crimes, and 900 are executed.
1950: Gen. Walton H. Walker, commander of the Eighth Army is killed in a jeep accident. Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway, who would turn the tide of the Korean War, is his successor. In April, Ridgway will replace Gen. Douglas MacArthur as Supreme US and UN Commander in Korea.
1951: A prisoner exchange request is denied by the North Koreans. UN command lists 65,363 troops as captured in the first nine months of combat.
1961: Cuban dictator Fidel Castro announces that he will release the 1,113 prisoners from the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in exchange for $62 million in food and medical supplies. One year later, Castro will begin releasing prisoners.
1968: After 11 long months of brutal captivity, North Korea releases the crew of the USS Pueblo. The communists claimed that the intelligence-gathering ship was in North Korean waters while the US maintains that the ship was in international waters. One prisoner died in captivity, and the ship remains in North Korea as a museum.
1970: The World Trade Center is complete. The twin 110-story buildings were - at the time - the tallest buildings in the world, with the North Tower reaching an impressive 1,368 feet.
1974: The B-1 Lancer bomber makes its first flight.
2004: Marines neutralize the last pockets of resistance in Fallujah, Iraq. The Second Battle of Fallujah was the bloodiest battle of the war and the deadliest since the Vietnam War with 107 killed and 613 wounded.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.