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June 2004

PFC Jessica Lynn Nicholson - Someone You Should Know

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Conrad College

    This is to certify that the Secretary of the Army has awarded the Army Commendation Medal to Private First Class Jessica L. Nicholson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Engineer Battalion, for valor and courage in the face of enemy actions while assigned to the 40th Engineer Battalion. Her decisive actions at a security checkpoint prevented the enemy from endangering the lives of her fellow soldiers. - Army Commendation Medal (with Valor device) awarded to Private First Class Nicholson

This is one of my favorites. Jim B. sent this to me. Jess's story has been around for about six months(those of you in Germany certainly have heard this one) and it's worth sharing so everyone knows her name - PFC Jessica Nicholson. Oh yeah, she named her machine gun "Camille" - I freakin' LOVE that! In the 82nd, my hog (M60) was called "Bonnie". PFC Nicholson should be headed back to Germany (or in Germany by now)

Training, Instincts and Wrestling Experience Pay Off for 1st Armored Division Soldier

When quick action is required in an emergency situation, a soldier often doesn’t have time to think. The soldier’s training and instincts take over.

Pfc. Jessica Lynn Nicholson, 21, a 1st Armored Division soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 40th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade, Division Engineers, found out how true that adage is recently when she was working at a security checkpoint in Baghdad. The reason she, a tracked-vehicle mechanic, was assigned to the checkpoint was to search women.

“But, that day (about 9 a.m. on June 7) there were a lot of people gathering at this checkpoint and it was very busy. So, I was asked to search some men, too,” said Nicholson.

“While other soldiers were searching a car, the driver had stepped out of the car and I was searching the driver. He didn’t have any weapons on his person,” she said.

“The other soldiers checking the vehicle at first thought it was clear. Then one of the soldiers thought that something didn’t seem right. So, he searched the car again,” she added.

During the second search, the soldier spotted a grenade hidden behind the visor on the driver’s side. The soldier shouted, “Grenade!”

“I immediately got man down on the ground, face down, and I remember pressing his face into a sandbag,” Nicholson said.

She continued to hold him down until other soldiers came over and zip-cuffed the man.

The man then claimed he had the grenade because he was going to turn it in to the U.S. soldiers. But they did not believe that story, because he had not mentioned it, or indicated anything like that, until after the soldiers had found the grenade and after he had been subdued and was handcuffed with the plastic zip-strips.

“I really don’t remember exactly how I got him on the ground, but it was practically instantaneous,” she said, blushing. “I don’t remember the details of putting him down. I just remember, suddenly, I had him down on the ground with his face pressed into a sandbag and I kept holding him there.”

She said the man then started crying and someone said he might have been embarrassed because it was a shame for a man in Iraq to get beat up by a woman.

That's right. She made him cry like a baby. Poor jihadi. I'm sure the NY Times thought about publishing this story of physical abuse.

Asked if she had grown up as a tomboy, Nicholson said, “No, I was even a cheerleader for a little while. I guess I kind of grew up out in the middle of nowhere,” she said, “and I just always had to do whatever needed to be done.”

She grew up in Silverton, Idaho, and, when she was 15, her family moved to Winnemucca, Nev. She said she has also boxed with some of the men in her company.

Asked if she wore boxing gloves, she replied, “Oh yes, of course, we had boxing gloves. I wouldn’t want to hurt them.”

She is the daughter of Jim and Kris Nicholson of Winnemucca, Nev. She has been in the Army for a year and a half. Nicholson’s weapon is an M-249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon), which she carries with her everywhere she goes. She has nicknamed her SAW, “Camille.” “It’s my baby,” she said.

Hopefully, PFC Nicholson will consider going to the Academy Prep school (then West Point) or ROTC and get a commission. The Army needs Soldiers like her...

[read about other heroes that you should know - here!]

"If you're with the news, I don't want to talk to you."

Three Turkish hostages have been let go. The military has confirmed the capture of Marine Corporal Hassoun.

And many of you know that Army Soldier Keith Maupin was murdered in Iraq. Al Jazeera claims that he was executed by being shot in the head while kneeling in front of a shallow grave.

Keith Maupin grew up in Batavia, Ohio. The good people of his hometown are rallying around his family during this trying time and keeping the media away.

Captured Soldier's Hometown Protective Of Family
Maupin Reportedly Killed In Iraq

BATAVIA, Ohio -- Residents brush past reporters, unwilling to be interviewed about a soldier taken captive in April. People in passing cars shout vulgarities at reporters gathered near the soldier's home after an Arab television station reported that captors had killed him.

The community has pulled together not only to support the family of 20-year-old Spc. Keith M. Maupin but also to protect the relatives from a deluge of attention that has redeveloped as the Army tries to determine whether the TV report is true.

Respecting the relatives' privacy is one thing residents can do to support them, Bob Handra, manager and part-owner of Batavia Electric Supply Inc., said Tuesday at his store.

"It doesn't surprise me a bit that they are doing this and have come together around the family. That's the way we do things here," said Handra, a former mayor of this village about 20 miles east of Cincinnati in Clermont County, where urban sprawl is overtaking former farmlands.

"People feel they can help support the family by protecting their privacy and not talking about them. We're near a big city, but we all still stick together," said Stephanie Heckler, 23, who works in Batavia and lives in the Ohio River town of New Richmond.

At least a half dozen people declined interviews Tuesday, walking past when a reporter approached them on the sidewalk in the village's business district.

Continue reading ""If you're with the news, I don't want to talk to you."" »

Who Wrote This On September 15, 2001?

That we, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants. I know it's a hard thing to hear right now, but if I and others don't say it, I fear we will soon be in a war that will do NOTHING to protect us from the next terrorist attack.
The full text of the letter is here.

That was Michael Moore four days after 3,000 human beings were murdered - basically, it's our fault that we got bombed. Amazingly, a few days later he wrote:

When we decide to help improve these billions of people’s lives, we will pull the rug out from under the terrorists who need those they send to their deaths to be poor and exploited and angry at us. The multi-millionaire bin Laden isn’t going to give up HIS life! When all the people in the Middle East have food on the table, a decent home, a good job, and democratic control over their own lives, who among them is going to be convinced to sacrifice his life by crashing himself into a tall office building?
Sounds like the Iraq plan, doesn't it?

Media Still Doesn't Understand the Military

The military is not calling back discharged and retired individual soldiers. They are dipping into the Individual Ready Reserve. There is a big difference between calling up IRR soldiers and recalling retired or discharged soldiers.

When you sign a contract to enlist or get a commission, it is generally for EIGHT years. You perform four years of Active Duy, then you have four left in the Reserves or National Guard. The branch of the Reserves and National Guard that does not have soldiers perform monthly or annual training is the Individual Ready Reserve. It's usually where the dead weight is put - where those who don't add value are placed to finish out their obligation. For instance, if you had a work conflict with your Reserve committment, you would be placed in the IRR to finish out your committment. If you were consistently absent from the monthly weekend training, you would get placed in the IRR.

Everyone in the IRR should know that they can get called to service just like any other Reservist.

There are no indications that the military is calling up 7,500 retirees or formerly discharged soldiers - people like me with a DD214 Form indicating termination of service. They are calling up Reservists and National Guardsmen who are in a pool of soldiers in the IRR. It's a resource that can be tapped and it's not a shock to many Reservists or Guardsmen.

I've seen the story below at AP. Here is the Fox News version:

Old Soldiers to Be Called to Action Tuesday, June 29, 2004

WASHINGTON — As many as 7,500 retired and discharged soldiers who are not members of the National Guard or Reserve will be involuntarily recalled to active duty for possible service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Army sources told FOX News Tuesday.

In a new sign of the strain the insurgency in Iraq has put on the U.S. military, Army officials said the call-ups will begin in July and run through December.

It will be the first time the Army has relied on the Individual Ready Reserve, as this category of reservists is known, in substantial numbers since the 1991 Gulf War...

During the Gulf War in 1991, several doctors were pulled out of retirement to serve during the duration of the war. So, recalling retirees is not entirely uncommon. But, clearly, the article indicates that the media believes that soldiers in the IRR have been retired or discharged.

Complete bunk.

Can't the AP or Fox hire more military guys to fact check (their ass) or do they have to rely on us MilBloggers.

Update: It appears that the AP has adjusted their story. Fox and Reuters are still running the original.

Update 06-30-04: Sgt. Stryker has more.

Link to the breakdown of the Army Reserve forces.

Help the Wounded At Landstuhl


Greyhawk recently sent this email:


June 30 and July 4th approach, and as many of us enjoy cookouts with family in the backyard, it might be a good time to remind everyone of those who sacrificed much and won't be home for fireworks this year.
Soldiers Angels is focusing some efforts to get food and beverages to the wounded at Landstuhl, not just for the 4th but for every day. Those of you who've had to rely on military chow halls for 3 squares a day know
they're efficient, but also know the benefits of "something extra" - and those things aren't always readily available to the folks on their backs in the wards. I'm told that the need is particularly acute right now
- ironic that the success of these peoples efforts is slowly being realized.

Soldiers Angels is working with folks on site - mostly spouses of troops and German/American friendship club members (ie locals, you know, the Germans who hate us so much for our immoral war {note to slow: tongue in cheek}) to provide some of those sorts of things. They don't have a specific "buy snacks for the wounded" program but could certainly use more support.

...I think this especially a good time as the turnover of power that these good people made possible followed by America's celebration of independence make great opportunities to thank them for what they've given.

I know we've done this sort of thing many times, but the wounded troops are one group we haven't really had a big coordinated effort for, and I can't think of a better cause. Or a better time....

On leave in America

So click on the link above to send care packages to Landstuhl (the address is direct to the Chaplain of the hospital and shipping via Post Office will be from your location to NY) or to donate to Soldiers' Angels.

Update: I just donated $30 via paypal. Can anyone do better?

Sgt. Hook Needs Your Help!

Well, not really...he's an Army First Sergeant after all. BUT...

Sgt. Hook started Operation Shoe Fly where he is trying to get shoes for the children of Afghanistan. He gave out his name and unit address in order to expedite the matter. He recently received a packet of flyers that said:

    Hoping you and all US troops make it safely home by this November so you can personally help vote out the lying, greedy, cowardly, white-collar criminals who have caused idiotic, unjust wars and made our military chumps for Halliburton et al.

It was signed:

    Veterans for Impeaching Bush
    Buck Fush
    11525 S. Cleveland
    Fort Myers, FL 33907

Sgt. Hook sent a reply - of course, knowing him from blogging and email, his response was excellent. Since he is way too busy fighting this war and taking care of Afghan kids, I would like to find out more information about this group. "military chumps"?

So give me a hand. Once we locate the folks, we'll start a campaign to shame them.

In the meantime, you can email the editor of Buck Fush.

Here's what I sent:

I recently came to know about your organization at www.SgtHook.com. Sgt. Hook is an Army First Sergeant in Afghanistan and is trying to get shoes for Afghan children through Operation Shoe Fly - an operation that he started recently. Instead of kids shoes, he received demoralizing posters from your organization.

There was no person's name attached, just your organization as the sender.

You are all cowards of the first degree. What Veteran would be so sneaky as to try to demoralize an all-American soldier on the front line of the War on Terror, and, then, not give their name in which to receive a response? How do you really expect to effect change in a soldier if you aren't willing to put your ass on the line? Did you really learn nothing while in the military or are you a liar on top of being a coward?

Nope, liar and coward monikers are too good for you. You all are traitors. You are betraying the trust of this country by attempting to subvert and demoralize soldiers. Unfortunately for you, you tried it on a tough, ol' Army Top Dog. One who may try to find you when and if he makes it back to the states - to explain what the words support and defend really mean. Of course, that's after he's made sure that you are safe and secure, and that Afghan children are cared for...

Yes, I signed my name to it.

BTW, I vacation in Naples a few times per year so I'll be sure to visit them soon...maybe me and Hook can talk to them.

Update 9PM CST: Just received an email from the editor of Buck Fush. He writes that he didn't send the posters and that the senders are cowards. Again, it's probably some Indymedia, DemocratUnderground/BuzzFlash morons...

Was Baghdad Really Silent?

After news report after news report about how there was little celebration about the establishment of a sovereign Iraq, here's a story that may have been overlooked:

Iraqis Rejoice on Talk Radio Airwaves
By TAREK EL-TABLAWY, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - She may not be eyeing the position, but Um Yassin's heartfelt congratulations to the new Iraqi government, would certainly put her in the running if another spokesperson is needed.

"I send my congratulations to all Iraqis and every Iraqi home," Um Yassin gushed, her voice choked with emotion, while calling in to Iraq's first, independent talk radio station, Radio Dijla. "I want to tell Dr. Allawi to be bold, to be strong. We need him to build up the army because we need them at a time like this."

Her message was echoed by dozens of people on the day interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi was given a letter that transferred sovereignty of the country back to its citizens after about 14 months of coalition administration. But in the midst of adulation for the new government, callers urged that all must be vigilant for insurgents seeking to sow more chaos in a country plagued by violence since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled.

"I send all the Iraqi people my blessings," said Ali, a caller from Baghdad. "But I warn these terrorists, all the Iraqis will rise up and strike them with steel."

With that threat, the station switched to an upbeat song by a Lebanese singer.

"People have been calling in all day, sending their greetings to the new government," said Ahmed al-Rikabi, who founded Radio Dijla about two months after working for years with broadcasters in Europe. "There is a feeling of joy among the listeners. But they are also expressing hope that the day will pass with no problems and no explosions."

"But we've also had calls from people pleading with the terrorists to let Iraqis live this day in peace."...

There's more in the article about Iraqis wanting peace and an end to the terrorism.

The fact that there's an independent talk radio host in Iraq is, in itself, amazing - let alone callers expressing wishes for peace.


We all make committments every day. Promises are tough to keep - otherwise they wouldn't be worth very much, now would they?

I've made tons of committments in my life - to my employer, to friends, to family. I've made vows to my wife and I've made many silent committments to my son. I've taken an oath when I've enlisted and I've taken one when I was commissioned.

Here's the original oath of office for an ancestor of mine (Captain of Cavalry for Washington) for the new United States of America, 1778:

    "I, John Jenkins do acknowledge the United States of America to be free, independent and sovereign states, and declare that the people thereof owe no allegiance or obedience, to George the third, king of Great Britain; and I renounce, refuse and abjure any allegiance or obedience to him: and I do swear (or affirm) that I will, to the utmost of my power, support, maintain and defend the said United States, against the said king George the third and his heirs and successors, and his and their abettors, assistants and adherents, and will serve the said United States in the office of Captain of Cavalry which I now hold, with fidelity, according to the best of my skill and understanding. So help me God."

I wonder what kind of oaths the Iraqi military will be taking in the next few years. I hope they are as faithful to their country as our military men and women have been to us.

Update 5PM CST: Jason sends this link to a story about a new class of Iraqi Army Officer.

"The training is designed to produce officers to lead men in a free country," Mulvenna said.

Fahrenheit 411

Normally, I wouldn't go where Christopher Hitchens has already slashed and burned...

The Chicago Red Streak, which is the left-winger, pseudo-hipster version of the Chicago Sun-Times, ran this story today that is quite even-keeled about Michael Moore and his new movie. Here are some parts of the article:

Fahrenheit 9/11: Are facts left out in cold?

Michael Moore's new film, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is part documentary and part indictment. It's a furious, often funny, attack on President Bush and the war in Iraq.

Moore, accused of playing loose with the facts in "Bowling For Columbine" and "Roger and Me," says he bent over backward to get the smallest details right this time. But critics of the film, which opened on Friday, are finding plenty to complain about.
Nonetheless, many viewers will leave the theater with the impression the Saudis, thanks to special treatment from the White House, were permitted to fly away when all other planes were grounded. This false impression is created by Moore's failure, when mentioning Sept. 13, to emphasize that the ban on flights had been eased. The false impression is further pushed when Moore shows singer Ricky Martin walking around an airport and says, "Even Ricky Martin couldn't fly."
But the movie fails to mention that the FBI interviewed about 30 of the Saudis before they left. And the independent 9/11 commission has reported that "each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure."
In Dec. 1997, a delegation from Afghanistan's ruling and ruthless Taliban visited the United States to meet with an oil and gas company with extensive dealings in Texas. Unocal was interested in building a natural gas line through Afghanistan. Moore implies Bush, then governor of Texas, met with the delegation.

But, as the Gannett News Service points out, Bush did not meet with the Taliban reps. What's more, Clinton administration officials did sit down with Taliban officials, and the visit was made with the Clinton administration's permission.

There's a lot more spelled out in plain english that examines the factual and spun parts of Michael Moore's movie.