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February 2005

The Heart of America - Conclusion: Tim Chavez's New Column

Received many emails from you all about the Marine Convoy that was saved by the Iraqi girl with the Beanie Baby...many of you wanted to know who (which journalist) received the info for the story.

Quite a few journalists wanted the story and only one got it.  Only one had the patience and the professionalism to keep waiting for clearance from the Marine Sergeant. 

Tim Chavez at the Daily Tennessean is the journalist that I trust, and he has a column about it.  It's a must read.

Thanks for being a stand-up guy, Tim!

Update: Gunnery Sergeant Mark Francis is coming home for five months before his second tour will start.  For those wishing to send more toys to the Marines in Iraq, here is the new contact information and an email address (for questions):

SSgt Tranchitella

1st Intel Bn (AFP)

UIC 42498

FPO AE 96426-2498

EMail: [email protected]

Help Protect Our Soldiers With Kevlar

Soldiers' Angel Robin - who leads the Armor Up program for Soldiers' Angels, needs four more kevlar blankets to give to a unit making it's second tour in Iraq.  Each blanket costs $925 and meets DOD specs.

The last request came from an Army Infantry Captain (the former Commander of the unit) who was wounded and couldn't return with them.

Here's the Soldiers' Angels Armor Up page where you can donate via PayPal.  And, as usual,when I post something like this, I have already donated to the Armor Up program today.  The sooner the blankets get to the soldiers, the better.

I won't be able to check in on this post very much this weekend, and I expect that there may be some who want to know why the Army isn't providing complete Armor for the Humvees.  While I don't know the specific reasons for this case, I know that it will still take some time to completely armor every Humvee in theater.  And every soldier is a target...Infantry or MP, Cav Trooper or Mechanic.

So, donate if you can and pass on the link to the Armor Up page.


You can make a difference!

Kansas City...

...Kansas City, here I come.

Note:  I'm heading to KC to visit Chief Steve's family (my friend is in Mosul) and help out around the house.  His daughter told me that "Mom had a list on the refridgerator for Uncle Matt". 

Good.  I like lists.

Blogging will be light over the next two days or so. 

Have a great weekend!

[Looking for something to read?  Check out the MilBloggers - now up to 135 blogs - and/or the blogs on my blogroll.]


Never drank coffee while in the Army.  I think I've said that before. 

Here's one reason why:  I was working for our S-2 who I thought was an old timer.  He was a two-pack-a-day smoker and a multiple coffee thermos refiller.

One night, we were sitting around a fire/BBQ pit talking of retirement.  The Major was complaining.

    Me:  What have you got to complain about, Sir?  You could retire any time.

    Major D.:  Retire?  @#$% you, LT!  I'm thirty four years old!!!

To see what coffee does to an US Army Officer in Iraq, check out this MilBlog - Assumption of Command.

Ted Rall's Apoplexy

Ted Rall.  To keep the blog PG-13, I'll refrain from labeling him a disgusting piece of filth or a horrible no-talent @$$-clown.  No, I won't do that because he might SUE me...

Ted Rall is freaking out.  Maybe it's his reaction to failing miserably as an alleged etch-a-sketch-using train wreck.

Jim W. sends this Front Page Mag piece about Rall's legal threats for using his picture.  Actually, he's upset about the publicity that his publicity photo is generating. 

At least I didn't call him a "piss-poor cartoonist".  (Come on, Frank J., he allegedly sucks more than that...)

Update:  John Hawkins takes up Rall's challenge...

In Case You Missed These...

In case you missed it (and I did), Susan H. and Matthew H. (no relation) send this Washington Post article about American and Iraqi Soldiers.

Humvee Tragedy Forges Brotherhood of Soldiers
Iraqis Persevere to Recover Dead Americans

By Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 22, 2005; Page A01


During the harrowing day-long mission to recover the bodies of the Humvee's three occupants on Feb. 13, an Air Force firefighter also drowned. Five U.S. soldiers were treated for hypothermia. For five hours, three Navy SEAL divers searched the canal before their tanks ran out of oxygen.

What happened then, however, has transformed the relationship between the Iraqi soldiers and the skeptical Americans who train them. Using a tool they welded themselves that day at a cost of about $40, the Iraqis dredged the canal through the cold afternoon until the tan boot of Spec. Dakotah Gooding, 21, of Des Moines, appeared at the surface. The Iraqis then jumped into the water to pull him out, and went back again and again until they had recovered the last American. Then they stood atop the canal, shivering in the dark.

"When I saw those Iraqis in the water, fighting to save their American brothers, I saw a glimpse of the future of this country," said Col. Mark McKnight, commander of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which had overall responsibility for the unit in the accident, his eyes tearing...

And if you're not reading Tim Chavez's columns in the Tennessean, you're seriously missing out:

Spreading good news in spite of the main media

Though John Johnston's grandson has spent much time serving his nation in Kosovo, Afghanistan and the past 12 months in Iraq, he has only one big complaint:

''I wish the press would pick up on good things that are happening (in Iraq).''

It did for a moment last Sunday, but that took millions of Iraqis going to the polls. Capt. Neal Mayo was referring to the good his men and women from the Arkansas National Guard have been doing for some time. They've been rebuilding hospitals and organizing youth soccer teams. His grandfather, from his Brentwood home, has been sending books to his grandson as his unit sets up libraries...

Continue reading "In Case You Missed These..." »

Still More Truth From Iraq - Commander of the 7th Marines

Via Amy K., below is the latest letter home from Marine Colonel Tucker.  I have posted a few of Col. Tucker's speeches and letters before.  It's been almost five months since Colonel Tucker last wrote an update.  Read on and you'll why he's been too busy to write...

17 February, 2005.

It has been 4 months since I have written. Much has passed in those months: a time of great victories, an election, the emergence of a competent, professional Iraqi Army and Police units who stand to their tasks, and a tipping point in this battle against terror and evil.

I believe that my last letter was dated 18 October 2004. On 21 October under cover of one of those dirt-fog nights unique to Iraq; with drivers barely able to see the edges of their hoods---the RCT Command Element moved from Al Asad to Camp Baharia, a protected FOB about 5 kilometers east of Fallujah.

TF 1/8 joined us two days later; BLT 1/3 a few days after that. We added 2d Recon Bn to the mix, assumed an area of operations south of Fallujah, and between 25 October and 6 November conducted a series of operations in the vicinity of Fallujah designed to force the enemy to show his hand.

Continue reading "Still More Truth From Iraq - Commander of the 7th Marines" »

Gunner Palace on Hardball

First, check out and sign this petition to get Gunner Palace a PG-13 rating instead of an R rating.  Gunner Palace received an R rating which is ridiculous considering what other movies received PG-13 ratings.  A PG-13 rating will mean that more people will see this film.   More people need to see this film.

I watched Michael Tucker (the director, producer, and cameraman of Gunner Palace) on Hardball last night.  It was the first time that I watched Hardball since the Republican Convention when Chris Matthews was trying to intimidate former Marine Sergeant Senator Zell Miller. 

Michael Tucker was joined by film critic Leonard Maltin.  Unfortunately, there isn't a transcript of the conversation so I'm paraphrasing what happened based on my memory.

Basically, Tucker was great at deflecting some of the most inane comments ever uttered by Chris Matthews and redirecting them to the film's actual purpose - to document the daily lives of these young soldiers.  Matthews kept trying to compare Vietnam veterans reactions to films like the Deer Hunter, Platoon, Apocalypse Now, and the Green Berets.  He kept bringing up the Green Berets as the one film that Vietnam veterans do not associate their memories of Vietnam with...it was like he wanted to talk about how surreal Iraq is rather than deal with topic of what kind of transformation the soldiers go through in the film.

No one pointed out to Matthews that Deer Hunter, Platoon, Apocalypse Now and The Green Berets were fictional movies. 

Note to Chris Matthews and his Hardball handlers:  Gunner Palace is a documentary film.

Obviously, Chris Mathews didn't see Gunner Palace.

But Leonard Maltin did, and he loved it.  He raved about the film and it's historical importance.

Long Live Wilf!!!

Update: Gunner Palace in Newsweek.