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May 2004

Major Mathew Schram's Memorial Day

Memorial Day is like any other day when you're in an Army at War.

On Memorial Day, May 26th, 2003, at approximately 7:00AM, Major Mathew E. Schram was leading a resupply convoy in Western Iraq near the Syrian border. Major Schram was the Support Operations Officer for the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (out of Ft. Carson, Colorado). He had responsibility for organizing the logistical arm of the regiment - ensuring that the Cavalrymen never ran out of food, fuel or ammo.

Normally, Major Schram would not only accompany 2 or 3 convoys per week as his responsibilities kept him at the main resupply point. However, due to the problems with attacks on supply convoys (i.e. Jessica Lynch's 507th Maintenance Company ambush), he decided to lead this one. He also decided that there was a side benefit to the ride - he would be able to talk with the field commanders and troops that he supported. Major Schram wanted to make sure that his "customers" were happy. Anyone who knew Mat Schram knew that he was obsessive-compulsive about making sure "his soldiers" were taken care of...that's why he was one of the top logistical officers in the US Army.

Major Schram's convoy consisted of eight vehicles - one 5,000 gallon water tanker, two 3,000 gallon water trucks, one water pump truck, two 5,000 gallon fuel tankers, one truck with MREs and bottled water, and Major Schram's command Humvee (bumper numbers: S&T 323, 344, 350, 237, 210, 204, 219, and HQ12).

The convoy was headed North from Al Asad Airbase - Foward Operating Base (FOB) Webster (grid coordinate KC 640 430) along Route 12 to FOB Jenna (KC 360 748). After delivering supplies at Jenna, the convoy would continue on to Al Qaim - FOB Tiger (GT 146 911) which had the 1/3 Armored Cavalry.

At 7:15AM, vicinity KC 6514 6181, Major Schram's convoy approached a ravine where the bridge crossing the ravine had been destroyed. The convoy had to go down the embankment, into the ravine, and back up the other side to get back onto the highway.

Once the lead vehicle started up the far bank of the ravine, the convoy came under intense fire from Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), machine guns, and small arms fire. It was an ambush. Fifteen Iraqi insurgents had been waiting by the ravine.

An RPG hit the lead tanker vehicle, disabling it in the kill zone. It was a perfect ambush set up. If the insurgents could knock out the first and last vehicles, then the entire convoy would be stuck in the kill zone. Bullets flew from insurgents on both sides of the ravine. The insurgent grenadiers were trying to concentrate fire on the last American vehicle to bottle Major Schram's convoy in the ravine. The attackers would then be able to kill the Americans at will.

Major Schram ordered and his driver, Specialist Chris Van Dyke, had worked out plans in case of an attack - the Major manned the radios and would shoot, the Specialist would drive and work the maps - Specialist Van Dyke accelerated from their position in the convoy into the insurgents' positions. Major Schram sent a message to Headquarters for help and began returning fire out of the Humvee. The Iraqi grenadiers recognized the threat and shifted their fire from the rear truck to Schram's Humvee, HQ-12.

Multiple grenades exploded at the front and rear of HQ-12. Specialist Van Dyke was blown out of the vehicle. Once he stopped rolling on the ground, he got up and ran back to HQ-12. He got back in and drove the Humvee out of the Kill Zone.

When he turned to get orders from Major Schram, Van Dyke realized that his Major had been killed. Even though he wore body armor, two 7.62 rounds a light anti-tank missle had struck the Major gone through his armpit (where there is no body armor coverage) and struck his heart, killing him instantly.  Two 7.62 rounds also struck the Major after he had been killed.

The Iraqi insurgents had fled after they fired their grenades at HQ-12 which was heading for them at full throttle.

Immediately, from a nearby FOB, two Apache helicopter gunships were launched along with a MedEvac helicopter. A Quick Reaction Force from FOB Webster was on the scene in less than ten minutes. Aside from the death of Mathew Schram, the convoy suffered only two wounded. Specialist Van Dyke was wounded in his hand and was able to continue his mission. One other soldier in the lead vehicle suffered a broken femur from the initial grenade attack.

The MedEvac brought Major Schram's body and the injured soldier back to the hospital at FOB Webster. The military conducted a funeral for Major Schram in Iraq. Two hundred soldiers were present. Everyone that knew Mat loved him.

mat_schram_funeral_in_iraq

The military said it would take ten days to get Mat Schram's body to his family in Wisconsin. It took less than a few days. Also, in a few days after the ambush, the Army had rounded up all of the attackers and put them in prison.

I was at my desk at work on Tuesday, June 3rd. The phone rang. I looked at the caller ID to see that it was a call from Ft. Leavenworth. I picked it up.

It was John, a friend of mine and Mat Schram's. We had all served together years ago and had stayed in touch. He told me to sit down. I did. He told me that Mat had been killed in Iraq.

After composing myself, we finished our conversation and I promised to see John's wife, Patti, at the funeral. John had to be at Special Operations Command and couldn't make it.

I shut the door to my office, sat back down at my desk and wept for a long time.

At the funeral, Mat's family displayed his last letters and emails that he sent. All were strong, positive messages (sooo very Schrambo-like). Here's an example of the kinds of things that Mat told his family (from the Green Bay Gazette):

Phil Schram of Hartland said his brother had visited Wisconsin over Christmas. The family knew then war was likely. Mathew Schram had been involved in the first Persian Gulf War and, later, in Somalia.

“He was anxious to get over there and get to work. He loved the military. He loved the structure. He loved serving under George W. (Bush),” Phil Schram said.

The one part that I left out of this post is that Major Schram's convoy was followed by a car with a major weekly magazine reporter in it. Once the action began, the reporter and his driver turned and got the hell out of there. If it wasn't for Mat's charge up into the ambushers, they never would have made it out of there alive.

The weekly magazine never ran a story about my good friend, Mat.

It took a few weeks for me to decide what to do.

I had been reading Stephen Den Beste, Bill Whittle, Frank J.'s IMAO, and Misha for awhile at that point.

I started Blackfive and decided to write about Mat and other Americans like him - people that the media would never tell you about.

It's Mat Schram's blog as much as it is mine.

So, today, on the anniversary of the sacrifice of my friend, please take a moment to pray for the families who have lost their loved ones in our fight against terror. Mat would have liked that.

One last note, there is a way to contribute to help Mat's fellow Officers attend graduate school. Some of Mat's family and friends got together to create:

The Major Mathew Earl Schram ALMC-LEDC/FT Endowed Fellowship

The fellowship, for Florida Institute of Technology's School of Extended Graduate Studies ' (SEGS) Ft. Lee, Va. center, will support U.S. military officers enrolled in the SEGS Logistics Executive Development Course (LEDC)-Florida Tech (FT) cooperative graduate degree program. The program is at the Army Logistics Management College at Fort Lee. Major Mathew Schram graduated from this school in 2001. This is the first fellowship established for a Florida Tech SEGS center.

The endowment will support one or more annual fellowships for military officers. The first fellowship will be awarded for the fall 2004 semester. To make a contribution to the fellowship, call the Florida Tech Office of Development at (321) 674-8962.

Update 08-09-07:  Specialist Chris Van Dyke contacted me on August 9, 2007, and informed me that some of the content was incorrect.  I put this together from Army and other accounts (mostly from the incident report by the 3rd ACR).  Changes will be noted by striking out the original content.  Thanks to Chris for his service and for letting me know more about my friend.  The changes were made immediately upon receipt and acknowledgement of Chris's email.


Message From Warlord Six

Jarhead Dad sends along a message from his son's Battalion Commander, Marine Lieutenant Colonel Kyser. I highlighted one paragraph in particular that Jarhead Dad pointed out to me:

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 Letter to 2/2 Families

Hello Warlord families!

We miss you! I’d like to take a few minutes to pass on what the battalion has been up to during the past thirty days. To say that we have been busy would be the understatement of the decade and I must tell you that your Marines and Sailors have been amazing not only with their flexibility and ability to adapt to changing missions and locations, but they have been amazing in terms of their courage and tenacity.

As of the 19th of April we were still in our original location of Mahmudiya (about 30 miles South of Bagdhad) and we were making significant progress in developing and improving the relationships and security situation in the four major urban centers of Mahmudiya Qada (county). Easy Company had been working in Mahmudiya city proper, Fox had been focusing its operations in Latifiyah, Golf in Yusafiyah, Weapons in Rasheed, CAAT across the AO in a Quick Response Force role and our H&S Company…as always focuses everywhere supporting every conceivable facet of our operations. Simultaneously, the 81mm mortar platoon had been making significant strides in training and conducting operations with the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps Battalion that had been started under our predecessors in the US Army’s 82d Airborne Division.

Continue reading "Message From Warlord Six" »


Sacrifice

I received a lot of emails today about the story about Marine Corporal Jason Dunham from the Wall Street Journal. Cassandra at I Love Jet Noise posted a copy of it. Go there and read it. It's a must read.

Paul sent me an email link to the story with the below message:

...Cpl. Jason Dunham, USMC who, by his actions saved the lives of at least two of his comrades. Basically he jumped on a grenade, covering it with his Kevlar helmet. He has been recommended for the Medal of Honor by his Battalion CO, Lt Col. Matthew Lopez. Unfortunately, Cpl. Dunham died on April 22nd. What's important to note is that he extended his enlistment, which was due to end in July, so that he could stay on with his squad throughout its tour in Iraq. When asked why he planned to extend his enlistment and stay in Iraq for the battalion's entire tour, he responded "I want to make sure that everyone makes it home alive......." Personal sacrifices such as this need to be known about by the public, and these individuals should be remembered and honored.
Damn, right, Paul.

Corporations Applauded For Supporting Guardsmen and Reservists

The 2004 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Awards were announced on Monday:

The National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a Department of Defense Agency and sponsor of the awards, made the announcement recently. The 2004 recipients are American Express, New York; Bank One Corp., Chicago; Colt Safety Fire and Rescue, St. Louis; Coors Brewing Co., Golden, Colo.; General Electric, Fairfield, Conn.; Harley-Davidson, Milwaukee, Wis.; Home Depot, Atlanta; Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Monterey Park, Calif.; Northrop Grumman Corp., Los Angeles; Fisk Corp./OneSource Building Technologies, Houston; Saints Memorial Medical Center, Lowell, Mass.; Sprint Corp., Overland Park, Kan.; State of Minnesota, St. Paul; Strategic Solutions, Inc., Walnut Creek, Calif.; and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark.

Letter From Iraq - Airman Angry At The Media

Here's an email from Todd, an USAF Airman First Class, in Iraq:

Thank you very much for the supportive email. It is always Good to hear from the TRUE AMERICANS that still bleed red, white, and blue. The only thing that I get to see from the American people is what is portrayed on the news. The media, and the people that listen to what they say and believe it almost make me more pissed off than the Iraqis that are over here shooting at us. At least when the Iraqis are shooting towards us, it is to our face, instead of like the traitors that call themselves Americans who stab us in the back.

I know that we are doing the right thing over here because I get to see it first hand. We are near a concrete plant that is off base and run by Iraqis. I have actually had some of them come up to me begging me to take them back to America because they know how bad living in Iraq is. I get to talk to Iraqis everyday, and I explain to them that Iraq will one day be like America, and ask them not to try to leave here, but to stay and be part of the Iraqi people that made their country a better place.

I have never been anywhere else in the world that the people were so happy to see an American. The media never tells that side of the story. They never tell about how every week we risk our lives to take food, clothes, and toys to the Children's hospital in An Nasiriyah.

Something that never happened when Saddam was in power, something these people have never seen. Instead the news talks about a battle in Al Fallujah where we lost one marine, and that is the entire story that they tell. They make it sound like we lost that battle because we lost one marine, but they don't tell you that right after that marine got killed, they sent in a C-130 gunship and blasted every one of the insurgents away. Now who won the battle?

I could go on for days and it is probably stuff that you already know, I mean you spent enough time in the military to know that the media is crap. It is good to hear that you are not afraid to let your voice be heard, and I pray that there are many more like you out there.

As long as we have the true patriots out there that keep giving their support, we will prevail and Iraq will see freedom as we do.

Todd

It's important to let these men and women know that we support them. Here's somethings that you can do to help.


French Craziness

And I ain't talkin' about their undying manly love of Jerry Lewis...

Justin at Right Side Redux has a post about the French refusal to allow "God" in the European Union.

And then there's this sidebar debate at the European Parliment (sent by Outlaw 3), pushed by the French, to balance the nuclear power of Israel by giving nukes to the Muslims/Arabs. I'm stating the obvious here, but isn't that going to...oh, I don't know...GIVE NUKES TO THE MOST IRRESPONSIBLE PEOPLE ON THE PLANET!!!

I'll throw you back to the second post I ever wrote about my personal boycott of France. It has a link to a Den Beste post about how and why France is doomed.


Who Supports the Military, Now?

With all of the anti-American B.S. coming from Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, and many others, let's see what some people in the music industry are doing to support the military in this fight on terror. Who supports the military, now?

They do:

Blink 182 (one of my favorites for ten years) did a set on the Nimitz.

Linkin Park recently donated $75,000 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Wynonna Judd played for the troops and has been honored for many things, among them being a USO Troupe member since 1987. The articles hint that Wynonna does much more Under the Radar than is known.

The Charlie Daniels' Band, on invitation from some Tennessee Soldiers (talk about Volunteers!), played for the military in Germany and Kosovo.

Gary Sinise visited the wounded at Walter Reed AND took his band, the Lt. Dan Band, on the USO Tour.

These were some of the most recent articles on musicians that I could find. I am sure that there are many, many more - like USO tour entertainers Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, Henry Rollins, Joan Jett, Tito Puente, Jessica Simpson, Deana Carter, Ozzy Osbourne, Diamond Rio and Bruce Willis and the Accelerators.


It's About The Oil

The Saudi Abassador to Britain recently said that the US was after Iraqi Oil. This guy was the former head of Saudi Intelligence and a reason that Al Qaeda received financing from Saudi Arabia. He also called Yasser Arafat a living martyr. There are a lot of reasons for importing Oil from Iraq. One major reason being that it reduces our dependence on the SOBs from Saudi Arabia and will put money in the hands of the new Iraqi government.

You can file this under "Just in case you were wondering..."

Here, according to the Department of Energy, is where America gets it's oil (monthly supply - data from February 2004)...In February of 2004, over 357,539,000 barrels of oil and oil products were imported into the United States. We produce about half of what we use.

The Largest (Import) Suppliers of Oil were:
Canada 17%
Mexico 13%
Venezuela 12.4%
Saudi Arabia 11%
...
Iraq 5%

While the Iraq volume might seem to be quite large, I must point out that we used to purchase more petroleum products from Russia...who bought the barrels from Saddam. The more oil that we PURCHASE from Iraq, the less we will have to spend on Saudia Arabia and others. OPEC will try to curtail that, of course, but, if we get the Iraqi government to form a citizen owned oil authority (like Kuwait), the Iraqis will benefit greatly (schools, food, living conditions, etc.).

This is a short-term solution to our oil woes as the real culprit to oil prices is that the demand for oil in China and India is growing. The US will need to produce more and more of it's own oil in order to keep it's prices down. Otherwise, world demand will continue to dictate the price of a gallon of gas.

Actual barrels are shown by country in the Extended Section.

Continue reading "It's About The Oil" »


Cannes Doesn't Have An Electoral Vote

    "I want to make sure, if I do nothing else this year is to make sure that those people who died in Iraq have not died in vain." - Michael Moore

Those who have died in Iraq will have died in vain if Moore has anything to do with it. And talk about War Profiteering, Michael Moore is trying to get richer than a Columbian drug lord by selling his ware to an audience in withdrawl over a lost election.

So the French gave Michael Moore an award - a prestigous award - for his film "Fahrenheit 9/11". I haven't seen the movie, but, based on his other movies, it is probably a mix of fact and fiction that is spun to suit his political views. I'll be disappointed when it is distributed here.

I thought Documentaries were supposed to be non-fiction.

Anyway, Joe Ham has a picture of Michael Moore's expression of joy at winning the award (not suitable if you haven't had lunch yet).