Welcome to BlackFive! Please consider adopting a soldier in a combat zone!

Free Fire Zone- April Fool's Deal

President Obama was pretty happy with himself today in the Rose Garden as he announced that Iran has essentially no obstacles in its path to having nuclear weapons. Those weren't the words he used, but he is not really prone to speaking the truth, so I translated. Bottom line is the deal, isn't actually a deal and even if it was and the Iranians followed all the rules they could still build a nuke. Oh, and they will cheat on any deal they even bother to sign. So, all in all a giant steaming pile of, well you know.

For Something Completely Different...

Troops and veterans move into a wide variety of fields, and over at Mission: VALOR is an opportunity for those interested in model, glamor, and fashion photography.  Internationally-known photographer David Mecey is conducting one of his Ultimate Photo Workshops, and is offering a discount to troops, veterans, and family members via Mission: VALOR.  


Book Review - Rescue at Los Baños: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right sidebar.

9780062325082_p0_v3_s260x420Bruce Henderson has written a gripping detailed account, Rescue At Los Banos. It details how the American military daringly raided the camp rescuing over two thousand civilian prisoners, many of whom were from the United States. In February 1945 the 11th Airborne risked their lives to save the civilians that included men, women, and children captured by the Japanese in the Philippines. 

The plot explains the atrocities from the victim’s point of view. The guards’ brutal behavior towards the prisoners was directed by the merciless and cruel camp commandant, Sadaaki Konishi. Meager food rations were reduced to the point of starvation, even though there was plenty of food available, since the camp itself was located in an area of great agricultural productivity. As the Japanese began losing the war the mistreatment of the prisoners grew proportionally.  In fact, many of the internees after the rescue looked like Holocaust victims, meager skeletons.

Henderson commented to blackfive.net, “many of the abuses of the Japanese guards and camp commanders are systemic.  They were raised in a very strict militaristic society.  Konishi was basically a sadistic person who had a deep hatred for Westerners.  It was if he made it his personal crusade to mistreat the civilians.  He was known for saying to the prisoners, ‘you will be eating dirt before I am done with you.’”

After General Douglas MacArthur became aware of the camp conditions he assigned the 11th Airborne Division a dangerous rescue mission of going deep behind enemy lines. It was a deadly race against the clock since many feared that the ditches the Japanese were digging would be used to bury the prisoners alive. The author noted, “This assignment from MacArthur required the coordination of a three-pronged attack of deploying troops by air, land, and sea. It had to be carried out in darkness, with a Japanese infantry division, ten thousand strong, lurking just down the road. The odds against success were steep and the risks were enormous, but the young American paratroopers and Filipino guerrillas responded with unparalleled courage in their heroic efforts to save the prisoners. The rescue was run like clockwork. It was as if Murphy’s Law was suspended for twenty-four hours. Everything came together with the key being the actionable intelligence gained.”

Besides giving a detailed account of the mission the author uses personal interviews, diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and archival research to explain the prisoner’s life and attitude at the camp: their selflessness with regard to other prisoners, and the courage displayed in overcoming hardship, deprivation, and cruelty. Henderson thinks the stories of heroism should be highlighted, since it is important to understand “how people react in the face of danger and adversity.  How they are able to persevere with self courage and sacrifice." 

In the book Rescue At Los Banos Bruce Henderson is able to bring to the forefront one of the most daring raids in military history.  It is a must read because it shows how good succeeded over evil.

Cigar Event Invitation

Not a joke this day:  If you are in or near the Indianapolis area, you are cordially invited to The Pipe Puffer  (cigars and pipes, one of the best selections in the area) across from Greenwood Mall on County Line Road, on Saturday 11 April from 1-5.  Master Cigar Roller Leo Peraza will be rolling a limited edition La Gloria Cubana Serie R Esteli.  The Pipe Puffer is veteran friendly, troop supporting, and even has been involved with both Cigars for Warriors and Pipes for Warriors.  So, come on by. 

Casey Sheehan - A SYSK for Palm Sunday

This is an annual repost honoring Casey Sheehan who gave his life in a fight to save his brothers...

Casey Sheehan grew up in a devout Catholic home.  He served as an altar boy and then as a key member of his church's youth group for years.

When he was old enough, Casey joined the Boy Scouts, becoming the very second Eagle Scout out of his troop.

He enlisted in the Army when he was twenty years old.  He decided to be a mechanic.  He would undergo Combat Lifesaver training - a class on how to give IVs and treat trauma only second in intense learning to combat medic training.  He was also certified to assist with giving communion to soldiers while in the field.

Specialist Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army in 2004 knowing full well that he could be sent into a combat zone.

Casey Sheehan was a Humvee mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

On April 3rd, 2004, forces loyal to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al'Sadr stormed police stations and government offices in Sadr City (a city of over 2 million).  They knew the Americans would come, and they wanted a fight.  Muqtada Sadr was working them up into a religious frenzy.  And he had his thugs murder anyone who he thought might stand in his way - even other Shi'ite clerics.  His forces were known as the Mahdi Army.

American forces quickly surrounded Muqtada al'Sadr's quarters.

On April 4th, 2004, al'Sadr's Mahdi forces blocked roadways and bridges with burning tires, vehicles and trash.  Visibility was less than 300 meters anywhere in the city.  They began to attack American vehicles on patrol throughout Sadr City - some were protecting Shia worshipers (Holy Arbayeen) while others were escorting city government vehicles.

A battle raged across Sadr City.  Insurgents assaulted American troops while looters and mobs formed and stormed through the streets.  Word spread quickly across the American FOBs that there was trouble.

Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were ambushed with RPGs and pinned down and dying.  While fighting off an attack himself, the Commander of the 2/5th, LTC Volesky, called for help.  A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) was formed of volunteers - their mission was to go out and rescue the American troops.

Casey Sheehan's Sergeant asked for volunteers.  Sheehan had just returned from Mass.  After Sheehan volunteered once, the Sergeant asked Sheehan again if he wanted to go on the mission.  According to many reports (and according to his own mother), Casey responded, "Where my Chief goes, I go."

The QRF was launched.  Not long after entering the Mahdi area, the QRF was channeled onto a dead-end street where the roofs were lined with snipers, RPGs, and even some militia throwing burning tires onto the vehicles.  The Mahdi blocked the exit and let loose with everything they had.

Sheehan's vehicle was hit with multiple RPGs and automatic-weapons fire.

Specialist Casey Sheehan and Corporal Forest J. Jostes were killed.

A second QRF was formed - all volunteers - to go rescue the first.  Specialist Ahmed Cason was hit in the second QRF - but kept fighting until he bled to death.

Seven men died with Casey Sheehan on Sunday, April 4th, 2004. 

They were Spc. Robert R. Arsiaga, Spc. Ahmed Cason, Sgt. Yihjyh L. "Eddie" Chen, Spc. Stephen D. Hiller, Spc. Israel Garza, Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, and Sgt. Michael W. Mitchell.

It was Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday commemorates the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem.  Back then, the palm frond was a symbol of victory - laid beneath the feet of those of the highest honor and triumph.  Some believe it was this honor fit for a king that forced Jesus's enemies to act and crucify him.

In recognition of Casey, the Catholic Chapel at Fort Hood, Texas (where Sheehan was stationed) named the Knights of Columbus chapter the "Casey Austin Sheehan Council".

Casey also received the Bronze Star for his Valor that day.

Palm fronds for the most honored.

[Click here for the Someone You Should Know index.]

What Difference Does It Make - take 2

Perennial media darling (and President-anointed in waiting) Hillary Rodham Clinton weighs in on Bowe Bergdahl.

Among her erudite comments was this gem:

"If you look at what the factors were going into the decision, of course there are competing interests and values," Clinton told Sawyer. "And one of our values is we bring everybody home off the battlefield the best we can. It doesn't matter how they ended up in a prisoner of war situation.”


What is insane about all this are two competing, yet compelling problems:

(1) The circumstances under which Bergdahl was captured were essentially manufactured by his own stupidity.  That said, it is in our charter to bring back everyone we send to a combat zone. And if there is dishonorable conduct, we have methods to deal with that, upon recovery.

(2) The circumstances that led to the release involved an onerous penalty that included release of five notorious AQ operatives and (maybe) some transfer of funds.  We paid ransom.  This would be a scandal if the detained person/POW were captured in otherwise honorable conditions.

Either one of these is bad.  When the two situations are merged, it should be cause for removal of exective leadership.  For the former Secretary of State cum presumptive Dem nominee to rationalize the second action under the guise of the first is doubly damming.

But this is the world we live in these days.   Someone said it during Slick Willy's administration and it is still true. HRC is like a soap opera villainess. They never die, even when they get killed. In the sane world that we used to live in - before being transported to this dystopian world we currently occupy - this woman would have been relegated to the dustbin of history years ago. It is unreal how she remains not only omnipresent, but still touted in many circles as damn-near inevitable as the next President of the US.

Washington Post story linked here:  Hillary - What Difference Does it Make (again)

Honoring Battles, Honoring the Fallen, Something Mayor Emanuel Does Not Understand


As a Chicagoan, it's not my preferable airport, but it bears a name that many don't know... Butch O'Hare.

In 1942, LtCdr Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare became the first naval ace of WWII when he destroyed 8 bombers headed for his carrier, USS Lexington, in the Pacific.  He was the first sailor to receive the Medal of Honor during WWII.  The MoH citation reads in part:

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3 on 20 February 1942. Having lost the assistance of his teammates, Lt. O'Hare interposed his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machinegun and cannon fire. Despite this concentrated opposition, Lt. O'Hare, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action--one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation--he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage." 

On the night of November 26, 1943, O'Hare's fighter group fought with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers.  Reports after the fight indicated that O'Hare's F6F Hellcat was shot down.  That was the last anyone ever saw of Butch O'Hare or his fighter (never recovered).

On September 19, 1949, Chicago's Orchard depot airfield was renamed in honor of LtCdr O'Hare.

And this politician *spit* wants to rename it Obama International Airport.

Could Mayor Rahm Emanuel be thinking about renaming Chicago’s airports, perhaps after President Barack Obama? 

Emanuel brought up the airports' names during a candidate forum Wednesday night atChicago State University

Mayor Emanuel quickly backtracked on talking about renaming O'Hare or Midway (named in honor of the WWII naval battle).

“Look, I made a mistake, and I was quick to change it. I’m not perfect. When I make a mistake, I hear it and change it,” Emanuel said. “And I don’t have a problem saying that. But I won’t make an apology for the fact I think President Obama is a great president. I wanted to honor him. I wanted to be the city to have the first high school named after him. In my rush to do it, I clearly offended people, so I backed off of it. I will never back off of my love and affection for a great president. But I made a mistake.”

You know what the real mistake is, Mr Mayor?  That you and your friends in the administration don't understand why the names O'Hare or Midway should never be changed.  You worry more about the sacrifices made to get votes than the sacrifices made to keep to the world safe.

Mayor Daley should kick your ass.