Some Thoughts On Military Suicide
Yesterday, Doc Bailey and I talked about military suicides and his frustrations with trying to talk to/work with various congresscritters. Sadly, I wasn't surprised at the lack-of-responses and other blow-offs he was getting, as I have yet to meet any politician who I think is stand-up and has their head screwed on straight on this issue. Not. A. One. I'm not terribly impressed with leadership right now either. From caring for the wounded to suicides, I am starting to ask what happened to "Leave No One Behind?"
A few years ago, when Uncle Jimbo and I did the journalism fellowships at the Knight Center, one of the people who came to talk with us was a retired general who had lost a family member to suicide. There was some semi-frank talk about that and about how the military was, and wasn't moving to handle things. While the general recognized a fundamental problem with that response, he also said it wouldn't change.
Before I get into the fundamental problem, I want to detour to a solution, and a plea.
First, the solution will have to come from within the ranks, most likely the NCOs of those in combat arms be they active or retired. It will have to come from those that were there.
Second, if things are rough, please reach out. Talk to someone else who has been there, whether it's your unit or not. We have lost enough people to the enemy without, we do not need to lose yet more to the enemy within.
Now, to the heart of the problem: The troops trust DoD and the Army. They trust them to be PC and to put them dead last.
The Gates of Heaven
What is Memorial Day really about? While we are busy gearing up for the weekend, I thought I should post this annual reminder about the holiday. It may surprise some of you.
If you are relatively new to Blackfive, you should read this story about a Memorial Day ten years ago - Mathew Schram's Memorial Day. And, unfortunately, we've posted many memorials to our Fallen Americans.
The words to "Taps" are:
Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
God Is Nigh
When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day. No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight. For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight...that means a soldier has fallen...There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to "Safely Rest"...
Of course, Memorial Day is about remembering the sacrifices that our military men and women have made over the last 237 years. We are still a young nation, but one that has made many sacrifices to remain free. We should also take time to remember the families who have lost loved ones.
We have focused on just a few of the fallen over the last few years. I've lost good friends during the War on Terror. And I write about the others to ensure that we don't forget their sacrifices - I do that for me as much as for anybody.
I can't speak for the friends of the many others who have fallen, but for Mat, Cooter, and Mikey, I can say this:
It is important to remember them, and it is just as important to enjoy yourself this weekend. To spend time with your family and friends. Have a beer while grilling Wisconsin brats (Schram-bo!) in the backyard while watching your kids play tag.
What better assurance to them that they did not die in vain?
Enjoying your freedom and understanding it's value is the best way to honor the sacrifices of my friends.
That's the way they'd want you to spend Memorial Day.
Remembering them, and being a good friend, father, and an American is the best way that I can honor their memory.
I'll close with this heartfelt letter, written by Rick Kennedy, that I received via the late and great Corporal Seamus about Taylor Prazynski - a Marine who was buried at Arlington eight years ago.
On Saturday morning May 21st I flew to Washington, D.C to meet my daughter Mary with grandchildren Calista and Lindsey, and her husband Joe Teller to drive with them to Chesterfield Virginia to attend a ballet recital for Callie that evening. Joe and Mary were in Washington for the burial services of Lance Corporal Taylor Prazynski USMC the 20 year old son of Joe’s cousin John Prazynski. Taylor was killed by enemy fire in Fallujah on May 9th while serving in combat with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, and 2nd Marine Division. Mary and Joe, along with 50 other family members attended the burial service for Taylor on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery, and when I met them they remained emotionally overwhelmed and forever moved by the elegant display of military reverence, and efficiency at Arlington. They were deeply saddened by the loss of this young Marine.
Earlier in the week Taylor’s body arrived at the Greater Cincinnati Airport by commercial jet. All passengers were instructed to remain on the plane until Taylor’s body was removed by a contingent of Marines. A military helicopter followed the Marine vehicle as it motored to the funeral parlor. Police and fire trucks were stationed at the overpasses and along the highway and saluted at Taylor passed by. At the funeral parlor no civilian was allowed to touch the body. The Marines prepared the deceased...A Marine color guard followed by a rider less horse accompanied Taylor’s body down Ohio Highway 4 for funeral services at Fairfield High School gym. Over 1500 people were in attendance of the funeral service at the school where the young Marine graduated in 2003, and played football and ran track. Pastor Dave Workman of the Vineyard Community Church presided. He gave a sterling tribute to this fallen hero that gave his life to his country. The pastor praised Taylor for his work with the church’s youth group, and his volunteer work with a multiple-disabilities class while in high school.
At Arlington on May 20th, the seven pall bearers dressed resplendent in the Marine dress blues uniform marched with the flag draped casket with military precision. When they reached the gravesite they abruptly raised the casket above their shoulders for 30 long seconds, giving the fallen Marine salute, and then rested the casket on its conveyor belt support over the grave. The military chaplain in civilian clothes gave the last rites, and presented the family Taylor’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart Medal.
All seven Marines removed the American Flag from the casket. They raised the stars and stripes above the casket pulling the flag rigid like a drum. Then they tightly folded the flag step by step in a triangle with the ends tucked firmly in place. One of the Marines did an about face and presented the flag to the Marine Sergeant standing alone to the rear of the casket, and saluted the flag.. The Marine in charge carrying the flag proceeded to the seat of the father John Prazynski. The Marine knelt down and bowed his head and presented the flag to the grieving father as the final gesture of sympathy and appreciation by the United States Marine Corps for the brave service of this young Marine.
Seven Marines standing away from the proceedings fired their rifles in three volleys representing a 21 gun salute, and you could hear muffled screams of sorrow from the youth in attendance as a lone bugler in Marine dress blues played the sad haunting sound of “Taps’ that echoed across the green rolling plains of Arlington on to the endless stream of white stones in this section called” Iraqi Freedom”. This was the Marines way of sending a signal to God to open the gates of Heaven for the arrival of [Corporal] Prazynski who gave his life for his country and our fight against terror throughout the world.
And have a great Memorial Day.
Memorial Day: RU Rob Has Some Thoughts
I want to commend a post to you by RU Rob. As the weekend starts, how many truly know (or care) what the day truly means? Some food for thought
Any Readers In France Or Going To Normandy?
If so, drop me a line as I would like to see what, if any, meet-ups can be arranged. Drop me a line at blake at blakepowers diespamerside net. Thanks!
Britain's rabid dogs
If you feed, house and submit to rabid dogs, you will be bitten. Homegrown Islamists blew up their subways before, and now they have beheaded a British soldier in broad daylight on a city street. We allowed the same thing to happen with the two vermin in Boston.Tolerance is a crime if it allows those sworn to our destruction the freedom to live amongst us, take our largess and then act as they said all along they would. These British scum were on watch lists, but just like the Tsarnaevs. Political correctness kept the Brits and us from doing what should be done to rabid animals.
I get sick of stating that all Muslims are not responsible for the actions of these scum, and there is some truth there. But look at the Pew report and do the math.
Few U.S. Muslims voice support for suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam; 81% say such acts are never justified, while fewer than one-in-ten say violence against civilians either is often justified (1%) or is sometimes justified (7%) to defend Islam. Around the world, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians. However, substantial minorities in several countries say such acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 26% of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29% in Egypt, 39% in Afghanistan and 40% in the Palestinian territories.
They try to minimize a hellish statistic by noting 81% say violence against civilians is never justified. But that means that 19% believe it is. And that is among US Muslims, the least radicalized in the world. That stat alone ought to chill your bones. The Pew report is hardly a right wing exercise in Islamophobia, if anything it is neutral orleans to the other side. They were unable to even conduct their research in the most virulent hotbeds of Islamist insanity like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other dens of jihad as the mere act of talking to a researcher could get even Muslims beheaded. If you apply the 19% support for jihadist slaughter among relatively moderate Muslims to the rest of the 1 billion plus around the world, you get several hundred million folks who are just fine with beheading infidels, honor killings and imposing religious totalitarianism on all of us.
I don't know about you, but that is something worth paying attention to, and doing so is not Islamophobia. It is common freakin' sense. If someone holding a meat cleaver says he and his friends are going to cut your head off, the smart move is to give him the bin Laden treatment. Shoot him in the eye and feed his carcass to the fishes.
Benghazi suspects free, FOX News hearing drones
Talk about screwed up priorities. The Obama team is so busy targeting journalists, they can't be bothered to scarf up the guys who killed a US Ambassador and three other citizens on their watch.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. has identified five men who might be responsible for the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, last year, and has enough evidence to justify seizing them by military force as suspected terrorists, officials say. But there isn't enough proof to try them in a U.S. civilian court as the Obama administration prefers.
Seriously, we have them under surveillance and O doesn't want to capture them because then he would have to either bring then to the US, or horror of horrors, send them to Gitmo.
U.S. officials say the FBI has proof that the five men were either at the scene of the first attack or somehow involved because of intercepts of at least one of them bragging about taking part. Some of the men have also been in contact with a network of well-known regional Jihadists, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
The bastards are bragging about it, but heaven forbid Barry actually do his damn job and capture them. Maybe he can have the IRS audit al Qaeda's status as an Islamic charity.
The U.S. has kept them under surveillance, mostly by electronic means. There was a worry that the men could get spooked and hide, but so far, not even the FBI's release of surveillance video stills has done that.
Why should they worry, there was no security when they showed up to the show, none while they were slaughtering and they have no reason to believe they are going anywhere. Plus if Barry does act, it will be a drone strike, so why run? They would just die tired. This administration will go down as one of the least competent and most political ever.
The Legion Stands Forth
The American Legion has stepped forward in Oklahoma. The Legion is on the ground with Soldier's Wish in Moore right now, and has further allocated $1 million to help help veterans and their families affected by the tornado.
"The American Legion is committed to the welfare of all veterans and has been on the front lines with veterans and their families in times like these since 1919," said American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz.
Helping Our Heartland
NOTE: Updated link with direct fundraising page, apologies for the bad URL before.
Devastation (not decimation) has hit in the midwest, particularly in Oklahoma. Team Rubicon is on it. Please, share the word and spare what you can to help. Meantime, keep the people effected by it in your thoughts and prayers.
ADV: Travels to Al Qa’im and Beyond
I am pleased (and somewhat relieved) to announce that the second volume in the A Different View series is now out in trade paperback and on Kindle. This new volume showcases day-to-day life of Marines at Al Qa'im on the Syrian border while I was with them on the last part of my first embed. It then transitions to Germany and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where I introduce readers to a very special ceremony for arriving wounded. I'm honored that MaryAnn Phillips of Soldiers' Angels Germany and Michael Z. Williamson agreed to write the foreword and introduction, respectively.
Here's a taste of what people who have seen it have to say:
“A Different View is a personal and vivid narrative of the author’s experience in a combat zone, showing not combat but the mundanity, humor, and boredom that make up ninety-nine percent of life ‘inside the wire.’ The author’s photos and narrative illustrate how service members cope and adapt to the surreal conditions, and how injury and death are still close by. This is a valuable book, and anyone who cares about America’s troops and the fight in the Middle East will find it worthwhile.”
Larry Bond, bestselling author of Shattered Trident
Carry The Load: Ruck March/Relay
Last week, I saw a post on Facebook that caught my attention. It was about a relay coming through the Atlanta area for an organization called Carry The Load. The word was going out for people to sign up and join in to help the charity, remind people of the meaning of Memorial Day, and get in some exercise. Well, that was my take on in when the president of Ranger Coffee (a former ranger) challenged everyone on a particular leg to bring a ruck and make it a ruck march. Liking the concept and needing some exercise, I agreed.
Was There Any Doubt About The Outcome?
Well, it appears that TRADOC is now well into the process of attempting to destroy the greatest armed force that the world has ever known.
Training and Doctrine Command has launched “two major efforts in support of this full integration of women soldiers.” TRADOC has started a scientific review working with U.S. Army Medical Command, U.S. Army Research Institute for Environmental Medicine and Army Research Institute to assist in the development of gender-neutral physical standards for all Areas of Concentration for commissioned officers and military occupational specialties for enlisted soldiers.
In addition, the “TRADOC Analysis Center is examining the institutional and cultural barriers related to integrating women soldiers into previously all-male specialties and units in order to develop strategies to overcome these barriers,”
I am curious how the armed forces, particularly the US Army (and by extension the US Marines) are going to "gender norm" the physical standards.
My argument is, the standards are already gender neutral...
In Memory Bright, Black Knights
Quoting a friend, who was their LT:
Remembering Alex Varella, Travis Haslip, David Behrle, Joeseph Gilmore, Jean Paul Medlin, Christopher Moore, and "Caesar II" today.
KIA Ameriyah, Baghdad, Iraq
19 MAY 2007
1 PLT/A CO/1-5 CAV/1 CD
Six years ago today.
Long-time readers may well remember these fine men, and Lt. Hickey. For those that don't go learn more about them, and previous things that showed their character, at this post that was part of Operation Puppy Love.
Please join me in remembering and honoring them today.
Army South Best Warrior Competition
Bonus: Day two photos below the fold too.
U.S. Army South is holding it's Best Warrior Competition, hosted this year at Camp Bullis, Texas. U.S. Army South (ARSOUTH) has responsibility for 31 countries (and 15 areas of special sovreignity) covering the Carribean, Central, and South America. The Warrior Games(corrected) Best Warrior Competition is an Army-wide competition that tests basic skills and knowledge through simulations and drills, demonstrations of basic skills, board reviews, essays, and other activities relevant to modern operations. Here are some photos from day one of the competition, which wraps up tomorrow.
Photo Essay: Going for the Gold at the Warrior Games
Army Spc. Elizabeth Wasil wins gold in the 1500-meter wheelchair race during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
The Marine Corps sitting volleyball team celebrates a point and went on to defeat Army, earning the number one seed during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 13, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Jimmy D. Shea
Marine Corps Cpl. Kyle Reid wins the men's 200-meters open race during the 2013 Warrior Games track and field competition in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games, which run through May 16. The military service with the most medals will win the Chairman's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Jim Castaneda throws the shot put during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 14, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans will compete in the games. The military service with the most medals will win the Commander's Cup. DOD photo by EJ Hersom
Book Review: John Sanford's Silken Prey
The following book review and exclusive interview with John Sanford is provided as a special by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right sidebar.
John Sandford’s latest book, Silken Prey, is a fascinating insight into the world of politics. He has the ability to blend strong characterizations with a very powerful plot. His dialogue is very realistic and often times funny. For anyone who is disgusted with politics as usual this is a must read book.
The story begins when Lucas Davenport, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent (BAC) is asked by the state’s Governor to investigate a campaign scandal. Senator Porter Smalls is running for re-election and is accused of having child pornography on his office computer. The trail leads to the disappearance of a political fixer, the involvement of the Minneapolis police department, and more troublingly, to the dirty tricks of his opponent, Taryn Grant. She has hired as bodyguards two trained killers who will protect her at any cost. This book is not a “who done it,” but more in the tradition of Colombo, a “how they done it.”
Sandford told blackfive.net that he wrote it because, “In a nut shell I was fed up with both sides, Republican and Democrat. The problem with politicians is that they are stuck with an ideology and can’t get around it, which explains why nothing ever gets done. They can’t seem to compromise for the better good. There is no longer any grey, only black and white. There is a take no prisoner attitude surrounding politics, that it is no longer congenial, with the fighting both political and personal. They have no respect for each other on the other side of the aisle. People are spending a large amount of money and there are no limitations on what they will do to get elected, so I just pushed that to its natural conclusion.”
He wrote the book to entertain but also to get his readers to think about politicians, how they have blind spots and are out of touch with the average working person as they live in their own Washington DC world. This message is emphasized with his powerful character development.
Taryn Grant could give Machiavelli lessons with her ideas about the way the world should work through her use of money, ruthlessness, and desire. Grant has a narcissistic personality with an oversized ego, extravagant plans for her political future, and someone who wants one day to be the first woman elected President. She is a new type of politician: smart, attractive, ambitious, and very wealthy. Sandford is hoping that readers will find “Taryn likeable. I gave her qualities you would want in a politician: tough, independent, and smart; but she is also a killer. I tried to balance readers going from admiring to hating her.”
Her opponent, Senator Porter Smalls is an old-school politician who has a clear agenda. He is more of a supporting character with the main characters being the hero, Lucas Davenport and the antagonist, Grant. Davenport is a cool headed investigative officer that is intelligent, sexy, a family man, someone who takes things to its limits and can connect the dots.
Sandford commented that he is pondering Davenport’s future since he is very dependent on the good graces of Minnesota Governor Elmer Henderson. “I thought about what Davenport might do after he leaves the BAC. Maybe the current Governor will become Vice-President and the new Governor makes Lucas feel uncomfortable so he leaves his position. Thanks to the Vice-President he becomes a free lance US Marshall and is able to just take cases of his choice. He tracks down unsolved cases and can travel anywhere in the world.”
Another character in the book who makes a cameo appearance is Virgil Flowers. Sandford intentionally puts him in the story to remind people of the Flowers series, with a new book due out in the fall. Blackfive.net was given a heads up about the plot. It will be a comedic satire surrounding a Minnesota minister who steals a stone while on an archeological dig in Israel. A number of groups are trying to buy it from the Turkish Government to Hezbollah as Israel attempts to get it back. Lucas Davenport will also have a small role in this next book.
Since Silken Prey is his 23rd thriller featuring Lucas Davenport, how does he continually come up with such fascinating plots? Sandford responded, “Pay attention to the news. For example, the three girls kidnapped in Cleveland allows for a great crime scenario. I enjoy playing off of a story by taking an idea from the news and using it as an inspiration for a plot. Of course, it should not to be too specific so that it interferes with real peoples lives. You don’t want them to think you are writing an entertainment book out of their misery. You put a riff on it which allows for the feeling of the plot being real without really being real.”
Silken Prey is one of those plots that appear realistic. It is a very suspenseful book that combines murder and politicians. A riveting story that anyone, regardless of party affiliation, will want to read if they are disgusted with todays politics and want a thriller with many twists and turns.