June 6, 2013 marks the 69th anniversary of "Operation Overlord" - the D-Day invasion where more than 160,000 allied troops landed on a 50-mile stretch of French Coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France in 1944. The invasion led to the deaths of more than 9,000 allied forces, but the victory resulted in a significant turning point for Europe's history. Today, we would like to honor the allied forces that participated in the invasion by sharing a film created by the U.S. Army in 1969. In this film, the drama and battle action of the landing at Normandy is portrayed along with the fierce combat that took place to overcome "Fortress Europe" (compliments of the National Archives).
Couple of notes. First, I can so see this happening, and it does make one laugh. Gives me a good idea of what the Blackfive/TAH retirement home might be like. Also, it gets dusty towards the end. Second, both the stars of the short are veterans. David Huddleston served in the Air Force. James McEachin served in the Army, earning awards for valor in Korea. One of his personal quotes is purported to be "Next time we need to send troops, let's don't send our soldiers, let's send Hollywood" It is worth the time to search a bit on his service, as well as his excellent career in music, movies, and writing. To both Mr. Huddleston and "Jimmy Mack" my thanks for all they have done.
"Incident In New Baghdad" A Somewhat Different Take
Posted By Laughing_Wolf
By now, most of you are aware of the "Collateral Murder" video and the new "documentary" Incident in New Baghdad that is out and up for an academy award. Most of you are also aware of the problems with the video and the challenges to the "documentary."
To get a better feel for things, and how they are playing out in public, you should go read the surprisingly balanced article in the Washington Post. If you want to see what members of the 2-16 think, you need to go here on Facebook.
Knowing Is Half The Battle: "Incident in New Baghdad"
Posted By Laughing_Wolf
Sadly, it doesn't surprise me that this has picked up an academy award nomination. But, before you waste any hard earned dollars, you need to know the truth about the "documentary" in question. Go to This Ain't Hell for more, listen to what Doc Bailey has to say as he was there, and join in as you can to rebut so that the truth will out. After all, getting the truth out so people can know is half the battle.
My wife and I went to a movie tonight. Stephen Spielberg's Warhorse. It was a debate whether to go. War is too personal and real to us. It is a good movie, but I am not so sure whether it was a good decision for us to go. We both left down.
Unlike most movies this day and time, Spielberg didn't show up close and personal graphic scenes of blood and gore. By today's standards it was pretty tame. For that, I am appreciative. I got it just fine that soldiers died in battle without sensationalism of bullets tearing into their torsos, or brains / guts spilling out. If one can say this about war, Spielberg did a tasteful recreation of the horrors of war, particularly the horrors of WW I trench warfare replete with soldiers charging across barbed wire laced open fields into raging machine gun fire. But the one thing that can't be muted down are the explosions from artillery shells, even if the lethality of the explosions was not graphically displayed. For me, a bomb or artillery shell exploding is too too close to home given Mike was killed by an IED - an artillery shell used as the explosive charge. Even during the Star Spangled Banner when it comes to the words "...bombs bursting...." I struggle as I bow my head, eyes closed clutching Mike's dog tag.
Warhorse is a love story about a horse whose owner loses him when his debt stricken dad has to sell him to the English Army. It is a story of a son going off to war to find his horse and along the way, losing friends and suffering violence himself. And the back story is the son leaves a dad at home who can't escape the horrors of war he suffered as a lad.
Warhorse is also about the brutality war had on the horses and about how innocent civilians are caught up in the harshness in the midst of just trying to live day to day. And I once again appreciate that Spielberg got the story across without sensationalized gore. And in a low key way Spielberg's Warhorse shows how hard war is on the family back home.
But there is one facet of Warhorse that demonstrated a vulnerability I have and I don't think I will ever live beyond. Warhorse has a good ending. A son gone to war comes home and brings his beloved horse with him. It is a quietly triumphant moment with quiet love of a mother and dad lovingly greeting their son at the front gate of their farm, hardly believing it is him, and hoping with every gaze he is whole and really alive. It is at that moment, and thankfully it came at the end of the movie for if not I don't think I could have continued watching, that I choked back sobs. It was too real for me. It was a vivid reminder what I did not get. It brought back my dreams of getting that moment even before Mike left for Iraq. It hurt.
Every parent, for that matter every family member, dreams and longs for their soldier to come home. They yearn for that moment to look with long awaited anticipation and see a son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, mom or dad come home from war. They look with anticipation to see for themselves they are alive, they are "o.k." And as I think about it now, and from time to time, I am grief stricken to the point of being sick on my stomach that we didn't get to run across the parade field and bear hug Mike and cry tears of joy. Rather, we gently touched a Flag Draped Casket with tears of grief. And when we did, we were soon to be saying a final goodbye as our life story physically connected to Mike ended as we laid him to rest.
As I choked back sobs tonight, I did so for another reason besides realizing again what I will never have. I cried because I also got a visual image through Spielberg's art of a son who did come home from war, and was struck by what his parents were feeling - thankful and happy. And I relish the opportunity to witness those whose sons and daughters came home. Recently, thanks to Facebook, I saw one of Mike's battle buddies come home and through cyberspace, I gave him a hug.
Why put myself through that? Why not just hide away and avoid it? Because I owe it to Mike to be happy for his friends and to any family who gets their loved one home from war. I owe it to them. And I owe it to myself It is not their fault Mike didn't come home. And for those who have allowed me, I cherish the opportunity to share their joy, even selfishly live vicariously through their's. And sometimes, I selfishly ask them to give their loved one an extra tight squeeze for me when they hug them.... It is so kind and unselfish of these families to welcome us when you could understand if they avoided us. After all, we are not the face you want to see when it comes to how war turns out. I admire them that they don't, for that is truly unselfish of them. They do it without relinquishing their own joy, or feeling pity for us. They make us feel like family. And I am reminded in that example of their unselfishness to share their joy with us that Mike left us a legacy bigger than treasure rooms could hold. He left us battle buddies and their families to be our friends who would not turn their back on us.
As I reflect tonight as the Moon Over Yusufiyah shines through the briskly cold night, I offer this advice to parents out there, and the rest of their family as well. If you ever find yourself feeling like you want to wring your child's neck, whether young, teen, or grown, think of how good it feels to hug it instead. And then hug them, and give them an extra squeeze for me....
Robert Stokely proud dad SGT Mike Stokely KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG
Let me interject here on this film as I have seen it in its entirity. My understanding of the evolution of this project is that NSW began working with Bandido Brothers on this as a brief recruiting video similar to this one that they did for the SWCC guys. At some point, NSW determined that there was potential here for a full length feature film that would essentially provide a "Top Gun" type analogue for the Teams to really juice recruiting, but without all of the gay Tom Cruise histrionics. I am not completely sure why the Navy let this happen, and my assumption is that there were strong personalities behind this that got it approved. I am also not sure whether or not it should have been made. The guys in the film would say the same thing as they all refused to do it for almost a year before the powers that be in NSW impressed upon them that they would be doing something important for the Teams.
It has already been alleged on movie buff blogs (that I started monitoring after watching this last February) that this is a straight up propaganda film made to glorify war, Jesus, and Halliburton (not necessarily in that order). This meme is going to be more mainstream now that the trailer is out, and people can see just how awesome this film is going to be. The case will be bolstered (falsely) by the fact that reviewers are going to quickly note that there is no second guessing by the operators about what they are doing and who they are doing it to. There is no renegade douchebag (Charlie Sheen) character fighting his demons and endangering his comrades. In fact, what this movie really does well aside from the amazing action scenes is to capture the general attitude and tenor of SEALs in their natural habitat as it were. That is not to say that guys don't get in bar fights or DUI's or get divorced or whatever, just that this film is focused on a deployed platoon with plenty of work to do.
Let me also add that the cost of doing business in NSW is in no way hidden from view and that includes the cost to families as well. These costs are shown in explicit detail enough to make a guy like me watching it tear up pretty good. The SEAL lifestyle portrayed in the film is pretty accurate if not complete, and the considerable sacrifices made by SEALs with respect to their lives and family's lives is hammered home with authority.
My best friend in the Navy is in this film and he invited me to join his family to screen it last Spring. I don't think I have ever sat still bursting with pride for such a long time in my life. I have personally served with three of the "stars" of this film and they are pretty much who they are in real life in the movie. I don't see any Best Actor nominations in the offing, but my buddy's interrogation scene on the yacht is really quite outstanding.
Nearly all of the action sequences are performed with live ammunition delivered on target by real operators. The impact of that combination raises the quality of those scenes by an order of magnitude. You will notice the difference. Bandido Brothers shot this thing with a lot of helmet cams and from angles and perspectives that I have never seen before. Check that. Never seen before in a movie. I have lived those scenes and watching a movie that is so close to my own recollection of operating is pretty cool, but kind of strange. Parts of it have a distinct first person shooter video game feel, and I'm sure that gamers are going to love this movie for that reason alone.
The overall plot of the film is fictional, but the scenario is all too real as we have recent news of Iran using Mexican drug cartels as facilitators. The individual hits that the platoon performs however incorporate real SEAL Team scenarios from the GWOT that close watchers of the Teams (and every SEAL) will notice. The one scene in the film that I didn't like also made it into the trailer and I kind of hope it doesn't make it into the movie. I call it the "Sea Monster" scene where the Platoon Chief catches the bad guy following a sniper shot and pulls him underwater. That shit doesn't happen. Aside from that, the TTPs are all very good representations with some things held back for OPSEC.
While the guys in the film will not be compensated in any way from this film (which I think is bull$hit), there will be some portion of the proceeds donated to military charities certainly including the Navy SEAL Foundation. Obviously, I am strongly biased to like this film, but the action alone is well worth the ride. If you happen to identify with the guys and their mission along the way, all the better.
This will be one of the best movies you will ever see. A few of us have screened it and we believe in it's message to the extent that we want to help promote it. Check it out.
When the rescue of a kidnapped CIA operative leads to the discovery of a deadly terrorist plot against the U.S., a team of SEALs is dispatched on a worldwide manhunt. As the valiant men of Bandito Platoon race to stop a coordinated attack that could kill and wound thousands of American civilians, they must balance their commitment to country, team and their families back home.
'Act of Valor' uses active duty U.S. Navy Seals as actors. The characters they play are fictional, but the weapons and tactics used are real.
A soldier assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Fear, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, TF Bronco, pulls guard while watching storm clouds roll in over Observation Post Coleman outside of Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province May 5. The soldiers stationed here at the mouth of the Pech River Valley and the Kunar River Valley, live in some of the most dangerous terrain in Afghanistan.
This is a great story form SFC Burrell about a PFC and his team leader...
'Restrepo' soldier returns to Afghanistan Story by Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Less than six months ago, U.S. Army Pfc. William A. Swaray's drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., gathered soon-to-be infantrymen in a small room.
U.S. Army Pfc. William A. Swaray, an infantryman and native of Monrovia, Liberia, assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Fear, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, TF Bronco, scans for insurgent activity at Observation Post Coleman outside of Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province, May 5. Swaray joined the Army at 38 to fight for a country he has adopted as his own.
The drill sergeant wanted the young soldiers to watch the movie "Restrepo."
"He said, 'OK, this is what you guys have gotten in to, so watch it and see,'" said Swaray, now assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Fear, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, TF Bronco.
"When we watched the movie, some of us became afraid," Swaray said. "We started to see reality from that day on."
Now, Swaray, a native of Monrovia, Liberia, is living at an observation post outside of Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province. The reality is he is not far from where the documentary 'Restrepo' took place.
Not only is he a few miles from the Pech River Valley, but his team leader is U.S. Army Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin.
"Surprisingly, when I came to this unit, the very guy that was in the movie is in the same platoon and my team leader," Swaray said. "I remember him in the movie shooting the MK-19 (automatic grenade launcher), and I remember him when he was being interviewed by the reporter. He's like a hero, man."
Pemble-Belkin, a native of Hillsboro, Ore., laughs when people treat him different than other soldiers.
"It's just a movie, that's the way I look at it," said Pemble-Belkin. "It's no big deal to me, it's cool, but I've done cooler stuff than that, I feel like."
On his second tour, U.S. Army Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin, an infantry team leader from Hillsboro, Ore., assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Fear, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, TF Bronco, stands under camouflage netting at Observation Post Coleman outside of Combat Outpost Monti in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province May 5. Pemble-Belkin, who was in the documentary 'Restrepo,' during his first deployment to Afghanistan is focused on training and teaching his troops all he knows about Afghanistan.
Some of the “stuff” Pemble-Belkin is referring to is snow boarding, hiking and photography. In fact, he said he wanted to join the military as a combat cameraman.
He tried to join the Navy, but they told him it would be at least five years before he would be able to do photography in combat.
Then he went to an Army recruiter and was asked what his hobbies were.
"The recruiter said, 'Well, I know the perfect job for you - Airborne Ranger. Sit down and watch this movie,'" said Pemble-Belkin.
The recruiter showed him a video of soldiers jumping out of planes, blowing things up and firing weapons.
He left for Army basic training three weeks later.
Through all the attention the documentary recently attracted, the speaking engagements he attended and even attending the Oscar Awards ceremony, Pemble-Belkin remains amazingly humble. At heart, he said he is a genuine Soldier who loves his job.
After redeploying from Afghanistan in 2008, he married his childhood sweetheart, Amanda, and trained soldiers in Fort Polk, La., for war. Yet, he felt the need to deploy again.
"I had to come back here. I had to do one more tour. I had to at least lead a team," explained Pemble-Belkin, now a team leader in charge of a small observation post called OP Coleman.
"I felt like if I got out, then it's like I'm kind of failing cause I have the experience of being out here," said Pemble-Belkin. "You know, 15 months of walking these mountains."
Living at OP Coleman, the days are filled with guard duty and passing on his knowledge to new soldiers like Swaray.
As Pemble-Belkin methodically dissembled a .50 caliber machine gun, he pointed out every piece and explained what he is doing to the Soldiers gathered around him at the small bunker.
Most of the Soldiers are in their early 20s and on their first combat tour. They have been in Afghanistan for only about a month and it's been unusually quiet in their area. But the lull in combat at the observation post isn't a relief for Pemble-Belkin. Instead, he said it adds tension to their mission.
The soldiers are eager to hear about combat, but more eager to react and prove themselves. Pemble-Belkin doesn't blame them. He's lived through some of the worst fighting in Afghanistan and is back for more.
But if they see combat, “In a way it'll change them," said Pemble-Belkin. "I just tell them, don't get scared when you get shot at, just hunker down and shoot back."
His wife isn't too happy with the prospect, but understands it's his job. On the other hand, he said he believes he hasn't done enough compared to his peers.
"There's been guys that have been deployed five, six times now," said Pemble-Belkin. "I've only been on one 15-month tour. I (feel) I haven't even deployed yet. My grandpa did three years in World War II. Once I hit his mark, then I've been deployed. I still feel like I haven't done a full tour yet until I catch up to my grandpa."
Before deploying this time, he had mixed emotions and said he felt like there was still something he needed to accomplish over here.
"I came back here in that mindset - I need to go back ‘cause I have some unfinished business," said Pemble-Belkin. "But now I'm just here to protect and try to teach these guys something."
The mission of this unit is different from what Pemble-Belkin grew accustomed to. He said his company is really focusing on the counterinsurgency fight and trying to win the hearts and the minds of the locals.
"I hope what the (commander) is trying to do right now, push the COIN fight, I hope that works," explained Pemble-Belkin. "But I don't know, we're in Taliban country up here, so I don't know …. It'd be nice to see them laying down their weapons and turning them into the Afghan National Police and the Afghan National Army and going and farming their lands."
With 11 months left in Afghanistan, Pemble-Belkin and his soldiers have plenty of time to find out.
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.