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May 2004

Kerry Looks For Veteran Support

[Blackfive note: I normally don't mini-Fisk but this is just too damn easy...]

Sorry Senator, but as the saying goes "That Dog Won't Hunt".

Kerry castigates Bush on veterans
Candidate says budget cuts hurt active military, too
By Glen Johnson, Globe Staff | May 29, 2004

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Returning to a strategy that helped resurrect his primary campaign, John F. Kerry is once again surrounding himself with veterans, as he challenges President Bush on national security grounds and pledges better treatment for active-duty and retired members of the military should he win the White House.

When John Kerry pledges better treatment of veterans, he probably means he won't make blanket statements accusing them all of war crimes.

The presumptive Democratic nominee, on the eve of the Memorial Day weekend, yesterday stood before the train from which Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded allied troops in World War II, and castigated the Bush administration for what he called a rush into war in Iraq, the mistreatment of military commanders, and the consideration of a $910 million cut in next year's Veterans Administration budget.
First of all, 'mistreatment of military commanders' makes you wonder what that's about doesn't it. It's about the firing of a bunch of General Eric Shinseki's cronies once the General retired...in some cases, General Officers were demoted before retirement. They were forced to leave the military for CAUSE. These are the geniuses who decided that, in order to improve morale in the Army, every soldier should wear the black beret - the headgear of the Army Rangers. There was a lot of negligence in the Acquisition Corps during Shinseki's watch. The rub of all of this is that John Kerry wouldn't give a rat's ass about those generals except for the fact that Donald Rumsfeld cleaned house and replaced them. That whole incident happened more than a year ago, when General Peter Schoomaker was brought out of retirement to be the Army Chief. Where was the outrage then?

As for the 'rush into war in Iraq', take a look back at the efforts of Colin Powell and the administration trying to get the United Nations to enforce it's own resolutions. Then, look at our representatives authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

I don't know about the $910 million cut. It might have been something that was programmed long ago. I haven't seen anything or found anything new about a billion dollar VA cut.

...The Globe asked the Kerry campaign for documentation supporting the senator's contentions, and a campaign spokeswoman cited a study portraying the administration's budget requests as falling short of what the VA needs.
So, even the Globe doesn't know what the heck he's talking about...

The Boston Globe article also talks about Kerry's attempts to lure Republican veterans over to his campaign. It's an interesting read.

Update: The Washington Post has a similar article, but calls out the Senator:

...Kerry repeated his charge that Bush under-funded veterans programs by $1.8 billion. Bush has in fact increased the department's budget, though not nearly as much as Kerry and veterans groups have sought. Over the course of his administration, Bush, along with Congress, has increased the agency's discretionary spending -- programs not mandated by law -- by about $7 billion, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs...
This guy is going to get his clock cleaned if he keeps making [email protected] up. Next, we'll hear that he said that Bush increased funding before he said that Bush decreased funding.

Second Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd

John Donovan at Castle Argghhh! has a post that you should all read about Second Lieutenant Leonard Cowherd.

Friends---below are a series of emails,edited only to delete all the headings, from my good friend LTC(R) Tony Cerri...His son in law 2LT Leonard Cowherd was killed last week in Iraq. Leonard's death puts a face on the growing list of young men killed in Iraq. I think you will find these emails will touch your hearts....

Memorial Day - Marine Lance Corporal Andrew Zabierek - Never Forgotten

I get a lot of emails from the Marines in Fallujah. Some are about Chance Phelps and I haven't posted them in order to respect his family - I don't want them to see new information here first. Suffice it to say that there are Marines on patrol in Iraq with pictures of Chance on the dashboards of vehicles or taped inside their wallets. Even in death, he is an inspiration to them.

I posted a recent email from Marine LtCol. Kyser, Warlord Six, and it was originally posted at a private site for Marine families of his battalion. LtCol Kyser just sent another email and I will post it below. It'll both make you so damn proud of our Marines and it'll also rip your heart out.

I now know several people who are friends of LtCol. Kyser and, to a man, they all think the world of him. No one better could be leading our young Marines. Here's the message from Warlord Six:

Since the letter's mailing we unfortunately lost another of our fine young men. Another amazing story in and of itself. He was a Marine from Chelmsford Massachusetts, a LCpl, with a four year degree who enlisted as a grunt because of his dedication to our great country and because he wanted to make a difference in the war on terror following September 11th.

He considered officer programs, but wanted to be led first and be where the action was. Older than most, he became known as "Uncle Zip(pity)" to his platoon mates because he was so committed that even when he had literally walked the skin off of the bottom of his feet, he never complained and continued to press on.

He was at once courageous, funny and compassionate. His intellect and easy way with people made him one of our first choices to send to additional language training and accordingly, he became one of the platoon's keys to interacting with the locals...especially the children. So as you see, he was a grievous loss not only to his fellow Warlords, but to the people here in Iraq who look to us for hope of a better future.

Andrew J. Zabierek was a young man who had all the advantages of a loving home, the benefits of a four year degree and a comfortable lifestyle, but he chose to serve. He chose to stand when many others remained seated. He died unhesitatingly responding to a mortar attack in order to protect the lives of his fellow Marines. The measure of a man is not just how he dies, but how he lives...and as you can see, this young man made a difference in both ways, and in two languages with two peoples left a legacy in the finest traditions of our Corps and our Country.

As I have said before, I and we as a nation are so incredibly blessed that young men like this answered the call to duty. He represents the best of America's youth. We will miss him, and we will not forget him.

Please remember him and his family in your prayers.

LtCol Kyser

As LtCol Kyser said, please keep the Zabierek family and friends in your prayers as well as all of those who have lost loved ones fighting for us.

This weekend, while you have your BBQs and picnics and parades, please take a moment remember our Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen that are still out there fighting the war on terror.

And if any of you are Clemson grads, you could organize something to remember Andrew Zabierek.

From the Chelmsford Independent.

From the Boston Globe - 'True Hero' was committed to service.

Colonel James Hickey - Someone You Should Know

The Reluctant Hero

Colonel James Hickey was in the news about six months ago. He led the Brigade that ran Saddam to ground. You might have remembered the story.

Colonel in Saddam raid stays focused on mission
By Alphonso Van Marsh - CNN
Sunday, December 28, 2003 Posted: 2:03 PM EST (1903 GMT)

TIKRIT, Iraq (CNN) -- In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's capture, the commander of the dramatic raid, U.S. Army Col. James Hickey, has become a reluctant media celebrity.

On a recent return to the farm near Tikrit where Saddam was found December 13, news photographers fawned over the 42-year-old leader of the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade, a steely-eyed colonel from Chicago, Illinois.

"It's a little bit embarrassing," Hickey says of the attention.

Images of the military leader congratulating his troops and celebrating moments after the arrest were broadcast around the world.

"I collected [my troops] together," Hickey says. "I told the soldiers what we had done and the significance of what we had accomplished, not only in terms of the mission here, but also in Army history."

The Virginia Military Institute and Johns Hopkins University-educated colonel has a reputation for talking tough.

"I am a little old-fashioned in doing things in an Army way," Hickey says. "I'm a stickler for detail. I expect equipment and weapons to be maintained to a high standard, for soldiers to perform their duties in a soldierly manner, and I'm clear about communicating that to them."

Not only does he not mince words in English, but he also speaks Russian, French and German. Hickey's communication skills helped him learn to work with local leaders in Iraq. Much of his area of control, including Saddam's ancestral homeland of Tikrit, lies within Salah El Din province.

The Salah El Din provincial governor recently gave Hickey an Arabian falcon as a sign of respect. Hickey says the bird, named Sky Raider, has become somewhat of a mascot at his home base, Forward Operating Base Raider. "We have to exercise him every day and feed him at least a pigeon or dove a day -- he's quite a character," he says...

Col. Hickey is from my hometown, Chicago, and has come here to a hero's welcome. For those of you not from Chicago, a "hero's welcome" is an amazing event because Chicago just doesn't have the same respect for the Military that is in the South or rural America...

In this case, the local media has picked up the story of Col. Hickey, thanks in part to the PR machine of Mayor Daley. Col Hickey will lead the Memorial Day Parade here on Saturday. Unfortunately, I won't get to see it as I'll be in St. Louis visiting the In-Laws and celebrating an anniversary.

He's also the Grand Marshall of the Memorial Day Parade in Naperville, Illinois, on Monday.

Continue reading "Colonel James Hickey - Someone You Should Know" »

What Is An American?

This is from the NRO on September 25, 2001. It was turned into an email chain letter attributed to an Australian Dentist. Regardless, Professor Ferrara makes an excellent read two and half years later. It's especially important to remember for Memorial Day.

What Is An American? A primer.

By Peter Ferrara, an associate professor of law at the George Mason University School of Law.
September 25, 2001 9:20 a.m.

You probably missed it in the rush of news last week, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper there an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So I just thought I would write to let them know what an American is, so they would know when they found one.

Continue reading "What Is An American?" »

Good News (and Reality) From Iraq

You might have seen this most excellent (Aussie) blog referred to over at Instapundit. The professor is travelling so I'll link to a few here.

Chrenkoff has a lot to check out but you should definitely see these two:

And Sergeant Missick has a post about Realizing the Iraq Dream (he doesn't have Permalinks so the title should be near the top of the blog - it's dated May 27th Iraq time). Every blogger should blogroll both of these excellent blogs.

Recently Declassified 82nd Combat Jump Released

Alternate Post Title - More Mustard Stains Awarded

For those not in the know - here's a previous entry about Mustard Stains.

Charles C. sent me a story that I had never heard about...the 82nd Airborne made a combat jump into Afghanistan BEFORE Operation Iraqi Freedom. All I have to say about this is that I wish I had gone in with them...

Medals go to 70 who made history

By Kevin Maurer

First Lt. Henry Moltz was about to make his first combat jump when he realized that the static line of his parachute was out of place.

The line was hanging around his knees, instead of hanging properly over his shoulder, as he approached the door of the C-130. Fellow paratroopers were yelling at him to fix it, but there was nothing he could do at that point. He was the first jumper and was seconds away from going out the door.

"I turned in the door and acted like nothing was wrong," said Moltz, a 24-year-old Texan. "I knew that no matter what happened, I was leaving if I had to use my reserve or not." His main chute opened fine and he landed safely.

Moltz was one of about 70 paratroopers from BCompany, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who jumped in Afghanistan in February 2003. It was the first combat jump by the 82nd Airborne Division since Panama in 1989. In a ceremony today, the paratroopers will be awarded a Combat Parachutist Badge with one bronze star to indicate a combat jump. The star is centered on the shroud lines below the canopy.

The paratroopers had been in Afghanistan for about a month and had been running missions in the eastern part of the country when they were ordered to pack up their gear and move to Bagram air base. The mission was kept so secret that the soldiers didn't know what they were doing until almost a week after they arrived at the base. "Rumors were flying around. I wasn't sure we would jump until the parachutes arrived," said Spc. Raymond Mullenix, a 21- year-old Florida native.

Even getting the parachutes was a furtive operation.

The paratroopers covered the parachutes with their ponchos as they carried them into the building where they were training.

"We had guards around the buildings," said Spc. Eddie Camacho, a 22-year-old team leader from New York City.

Continue reading "Recently Declassified 82nd Combat Jump Released" »

You'll Never See This On CNN - #745

Here's something that'll never make the headlines - 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) Soldiers escorting the head religious figure in Samarra, Iraq, on an (inspection) TOUR through the local detention facilities...

Imam Visits the 2nd Brigad Combat Team Detention Facility

In an effort to develop a positive relationship with Imams, who are religious leaders, and to curtail rumors of detainee abuse, Dr. Hatem Ahmad Abass, the head Imam in Samarra, was invited to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Detention facility at Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora to give a sermon to the detainees.

Abass is the Imam at the Al Hadi Mosque, also known as the Golden Mosque. Two associates from the Samarra Working Group, Sheik Jasim Dauod, Imam for the Noor Al-Yaqeen Mosque, and Ghazi Abdul-Kareem Abdullah, a court magistrate in Samarra visited the facility with Abass.

Lt. Col. Kirk T. Allen, Task Force commander of the FOB, greeted Abass when he arrived at the detention facility. After introductions, Abass was set up with a speaker system so he could give his sermon. His message focused on patience and hope, and he told the detainees that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

After the sermon, Abass and his associates talked with several detainees and were given a tour of the facility by the task force’s military police platoon, Chaplain and S-5.

2nd Lt. Warren, the MP platoon leader, showed Abass the facility’s aid station, latrines, showers and even the contents of one of the Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) that the detainees are given three times a day.

The Imam said he was pleased to see that the detainees had access to copies of the Quran and were allowed their religious freedom.


Following their visit, Abass and his associates admitted that they had been pleasantly surprised at how well the detainees were treated. They said the detainees told them that they were well fed, cared for and treated with respect by everyone at the detention facility.

Abass mentioned that he had expected far worse conditions at the detention facility given the prison abuse scandal in Abu Ghrid Prison. But was pleased with what he saw at the 2nd BCT detention facility.

As the members of the Samarra Working Group left, they thanked Allen for allowing them to give a sermon. The Imam’s visit boosted the detainees’ morale, raised their spirits and gave them hope, the detainees said.

Where's Dan Rather on this one?

"Captain Courage" - Royal Marine Captain Jim Bonney - Someone You Should Know

This story (sent by Diana) is not about the war on terror, but about the courage of a marine from the UK to continue his career in the Royal Marines. Our own US Marines have a bond with the Royal Marines.

Captain has his leg amputated to stay in Marines
By Richard Savill

A Royal Marines officer who was badly injured in a 1,000ft climbing fall has become the first Commando to return to operational service with an artificial leg after he asked doctors to amputate his limb.

Capt Jim Bonney, 26, faced having to leave the Royal Marines and the loss of an active life, including a love of canoeing and climbing, after the fall while on an adventure training exercise in Alaska three years ago.

Continue reading ""Captain Courage" - Royal Marine Captain Jim Bonney - Someone You Should Know" »