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April 2005

Ranger Pat Tillman Remembered

A few weeks ago, the Pat Tillman USO facility opened at Bagram in Afghanistan. (click on the thumbnail for a larger version)


BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan: Warrick Dunn of the Atlanta Falcons and Larry Izzo of the New England Patriots toss autographed footballs to members of the U.S. led Coalition in Afghanistan prior to the opening of the Pat Tillman USO Center April 3 in Bagram. The center is named in honor of former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, who was killed in eastern Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Darren D. Heusel, 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, Oklahoma Army National Guard)

And a year after his death, he is remembered on ESPN and in Arizona.

Douglass sends this link to a page honoring Pat Tillman.

Previous Blackfive posts about Ranger Pat Tillman are here and here (leaving out the repsonses to ASU professors and a certain no-talent cartoonist).

Steve Gilliard and Baghdad Bob

Greyhawk at Mudville brings this issue to light and covers the flank of another MilBlogger (we'll get to that in a minute).  First the details...

Apparently, Steve Gilliard believes that we're going to lose the war in Iraq.  How does he know this?

From inferring information from charts and graphs (and just making @#$% up)...and maybe Baghdad Bob is whispering in his ear... “We have placed them in a quagmire from which they can never emerge except dead”.  Por ejemplo, there's this little bit of insight:

...Most days, large stretches of these highways are vunerable to attack. And notice something else: all roads lead to Baghdad. So if you wage a road denial campaign against the US military, every attack in Baghdad has a multiplier. Because it slows down the whole network...

What?  WTF?  So if you attack some neighborhood in Baghdad, the guys in Mosul will be affected?  Kirkuk?  Basra?  Tikrit?  Most likely not.

Be sure to check the comments where you'll find visitors from the Kos-sack congratulating Stevie on his providing "on-the-ground reality"...????

Speaking of "on-the-ground", a MilBlogger in Iraq, DadManly, takes issue with Steve's post.

...I don't know the source of your information depicting life in Iraq for we who are deployed here, but it strikes me that you use what little information you do have to paint a picture grossly different than what is actually the case. You compound this fancy by drawing conclusions that are not supported even by the data you do misrepresent...

Be sure to read his whole post which also has a brief reply from Stevie.  I checked some of Baghdad Gilliard's posts.  The title "defeatist" would be suitable (as suitable as I can get running a PG-13 blog).

The Case for Lieutenant Ilario Pantano - Part 2

Since the Article 32 hearing is Tuesday, I've been getting a lot of email about Lieutenant Pantano.  He's charged with premeditated murder for shooting two Iraqis during a search for terrorists last April.

On Monday, the investigating officer should determine whether there is enough evidence for a court-martial and offer a recommendation to the Commanding General of the . Pantano's General will then determine whether to proceed with the court-martial  or modify the charges.  Pantano could be sentenced to death.

Pantano and two of his Marines apprehended two suspects and their vehicle.  He ordered his men to secure the vehicle.  He made the suspects pull apart their own vehicle (he was looking for IED or hidden weapons).  While his men were not looking, he is accused of shooting the suspects in the back.  Pantano then vandalized their vehicle and put a sign on it with his division's tag-line - No better friend, no worse enemy.

No one saw him shoot the suspects.  He admitted shooting the suspects (Pantano reported it himself).  His unit investigated the incident  and dismissed the charges.  After arriving back home, he found that he was charged with murder.

JarheadDad sent this excellent article about the incident and Ilario Pantano.  It's seven pages long, but it's very, very good.

Here's a part about Pantano's accuser, Sergeant Coburn:

...One day on patrol, Coburn’s squad stopped for a break. There’d been enemy activity in the area. His guys were taking off their helmets within sight of unsearched buildings. “Men follow men into combat because they believe that they can keep them alive,” Pantano believes, and kind of flipped out. “Pantano is going to do it right,” explains one officer. “He has no sympathy for someone who’s not up there. He doesn’t take it easy on anybody.”

Pantano called the squad in. Why hadn’t Coburn posted security? Coburn told him the buildings had been checked yesterday. “You’re fucking fired,” Pantano recalls telling Coburn. “We’re parked in the middle of a kill box,” he told the squad. “It’s a miracle that we’re not all in a bag right now.”

Pantano and Sergeant Glew talked it over. “We could have very easily told the company commander he was incompetent as a sergeant and requested a reduction in rank,” says Glew. “We gave him the benefit of the doubt because he still gave his all, he still had good intentions.” So Coburn was reassigned. He might not be a warrior, an emasculating fact in this tribe; still, he was smart. He’d be the radio operator, tagging along with the medic and Pantano.

Coburn would later say that he was transferred to radio operator to help out with a platoon problem. “I went to the radio ’cause . . . I knew what I was doing on the radio,” Coburn says. “If I got fired . . . it didn’t sound like it to me.” But every Marine knows that radio operator is a job two or three pay grades below sergeant...

Worst case (I hope), I think Pantano will be discharged.  He's done with the Marines - one way or another.  Which is unfortunate, as every Marine that I come into contact with thinks the world of Lieutenant Pantano.

War sucks.

[Part 1 from February 15th is here]

Update 04-26-05:  Correction about the initial charges on Pantano in Iraq.  They were not dismissed.  Pantano reported the incident and charges weren't made until later.

And, since the case is really just beginning today, many developments may change the landscape of the case.  We'll be watching.

Again, war sucks.

MilBlogs On MSNBC

I appreciate the shout out to some of my favorite MilBlogs by David Weinberger of Joho Blog on MSNBC today.

The Political Teen has the video so you can see for yourself.

Jack Army got featured.  He's the no BS Special Forces blogger I've been talking about lately.  But keep your hand on your wallet 'cause he's a recruiter too! ;->

Te National Guard Experience was also discussed (mostly the awesome photos get the attention).

And Some Soldiers Mom, too!

David showed pictures of the blogs and their URLs were listed on the screen.

*sigh* And it's Blackfive dot net (.net).  Some jackass is parked on Blackfive.com and wants $2000 for it.  Oh well...

Citizens of Maine Greet Returning Heroes

Via Seamus, LA Times reporter, Tony Perry, has a really nice article about veterans and families ensuring that our military returning from overseas get a real welcome during stopovers in Maine.

Welcome Stop for Warriors

Locals in Bangor, Maine, are on a mission to greet every military plane, at any time, in any weather. Their tally so far: 200,000 troops.

By Tony Perry - Times Staff Writer

April 20, 2005

BANGOR, Maine — Tired and bleary-eyed, Marines of the 1st Battalion, 7th Regiment, based at Twentynine Palms, Calif., were finally back on U.S. soil after seven months on the front lines in Iraq.

But they were still many miles and hours from their families and the homecoming they longed for. Their officers told them they would be on the ground for 60 to 90 minutes while their chartered plane was refueled.

So they disembarked and began walking through the airport terminal corridor to a small waiting room.

That's when they heard the applause.

Lining the hall and clapping were dozens of Bangor residents who have set a daunting task for themselves: They want every Marine, soldier, sailor and airman returning through the tiny international airport here to get a hero's welcome.

Even if the planes arrive in the middle of the night or a blizzard, they are there.

Composed mostly from the generation that served in World War II and Korea, they call themselves the Maine Troop Greeters. They have met every flight bringing troops home from Iraq for nearly two years — more than 1,000 flights and nearly 200,000 troops....

Be sure to read the whole piece.  The comments from the over 70 year-old Marines are priceless.

Female Soldiers Lead The Way

    "America is safer because the men and women of Bagram are on duty." - First Lady Laura Bush, on her visit to Bagram.

Laura Bush visited Afghanistan in March to help promote International Women's Month.  I'm late in honoring of International Women's Month, so I would like to call attention to these Soldiers:

And here's a story about a female crew chief in F Company, 159th Aviation Regiment - "Big Windy" - (she might be the only female crew chief at Bagram?):


U.S. Army Spc. Rachel Jump covers one of the engines on her CH-47 Chinook. Jump joined the military six years ago and has worked her way up to crew chief. U.S. Army photo by Pvt. Cora Gerth

Story in the Extended Section.

Continue reading "Female Soldiers Lead The Way" »

Band of Brothers Blogging

Greyhawk links to a story about one of my heroes - Dick Winters - who led Easy Company after the invasion of Normandy.  Paratroopers rock, people!

Anyway, after I had read Greyhawk's post over coffee, I went back to my office.  I have most of my military momentos on the walls of my office.  Guidons of units I commanded, unit crests, the very Airborne wings that were punched into my chest over 20 years ago, a picture of my 3rd ID flag football champs, etc.  Then, I've got pictures from various Airborne operations since WWII.

Here's one of my favorites (click on the thumbnail for a larger version):


It was taken by Wild Bill Guarnere (Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne Division) during the invasion of Holland.

During the invasion of Normandy, Sergeant Guarnere was part of an operation to knock out German artillery that is still taught in military classrooms as an example of small unit tactics and leadership. 

Two weeks after he took that picture, Wild Bill got hit by shrapnel and was evacuated to England.  He went AWOL to get back to his unit (that's right, he went AWOL with a shrapnel injury and found his unit in Belguim), and, during the Battle of the Bulge, lost his right leg attempting to save Sergeant Joe Toye (he did save him).  And if medical technology was as advanced as it is now, Wild Bill would have gone back again.  I'd bet a year's pay on it.

Years ago, I thought that Dick Winters and Wild Bill were part of a great generation that would never occur again.

But you all know I was wrong. 

Corporal Tim Tardiff, Captain David Rozelle, Sergeant First Class McNaughtonGunnery Sergeant Carver, Specialist Perez,...