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September 2005

Light Blogging

One of my best Army buddies, MikeMac, just showed up on my doorstep, unannounced.  Haven't seen him in ten years. 

Taking the afternoon off...lots of catching up to do...Mr. Laphroaig will be joining us.

Update 10-01-05 8am:  Mr. Laphroaig might seem nice at first, but he's a very, very bad man. 

Paratroopers at Bright Star

Bright Star is the multinational joint forces operation that occurs every two years in Egypt on the Sinai Peninsula.  Below are five pictures of Paratroops.   Click on the thumbnails for larger versions.  Airborne!

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Paratroopers fall from the sky during a coalition airborne jump, Sept 18. The jump is one of six major events during the Bright Star 2005 exercise. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Clifton, Combined Joint Task Force-Bright Star Public Affairs.

Please visit these Airborne Qualified bloggers:

Froggy Ruminations (SEAL)
SF Alpha Geek (SF - back from a tour in Afghanistan)
Uncle Jimbo (SF Vet)
JB's Sanctuary (SF Reservist)
Jack Army (SF)
Michael Yon (SF Vet - now an embedded blogger in Iraq)
Thunder Six's 365 and a wakeup (Army in Iraq)
Major Delaplane's Fire Power Forward (Army in Afghanistan)
Bloodspite of Technography and Politburo Diktat (SF Vet)
John Donovan of Argghhh! (Army Vet)
Dogtulosba, ink. (Army Airborne Combat Engineer)
Fred Schoeneman (Army Vet)
Tobacco Joe at Cadillac Tight (Army Vet)
Gold Falcon's Jump Blog (SF Vet)
Francis Marion's Where I Stand (SF Vet)
Airborne Combat Engineer (Army Vet)
American Soldier (Army)
Texas Music (Army Vet)
The Fast Squirrel (SF Vet)
Streams (Army Vet)
Bill Roggio (Army Vet)
Watch Your Six (Army)
Shared Daily (Army Vet)
Alexander the Average (Army OIF/OEF Vet)
Greg, Stuck In Qatar (Army in, well, Qatar)
Right In Raleigh (SF Vet)
 Major Dad 1984 (Army Vet)
Old And Evil (Army Vet)
Assumption of Command (Army OIF)
TBone's War Journal
The Universe and Other Things (Army Vet)
Jason Van Steenwyk (OIF Vet)

WTC Memorial - We Took It Back!

Thanks to many of you.  Received several updates from Susie, Brett, Harding, and John H. that the International Freedom Center - the group that is twisting of the World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial into an America hating museum - has been removed from the Memorial.

We are very pleased to announce that Governor Pataki has announced the removal of the International Freedom Center (IFC) from Ground Zero. See http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/09/28/AR2005092801849.html for details.

Every since June 8, 2005 when Debra Bulingame's op-ed, The Great Ground Zero Heist, appeared in the Wall Street Journal, we have fought together for the preservation of the dignity of Ground Zero. With your help, we have achieved a major victory toward that goal.

We will continue to monitor the plans for Ground Zero to ensure that a fitting and proper memorial is built; one that is respectful of the victims murdered that day, their families, the first responders, and the American people.

A press release on the removal of the IFC from the 15 family member groups is expected in the next 24 hours and we will post it @ www.takebackthememorial.org  as soon as it becomes available.

Thank you again for your support, prayers, and dedication. We simply could not have done this without you.


Robert D. Shurbet
Founder/Web Master

Thank you to all who have helped Take Back the Memorial!

Update:  Michelle Malkin has more...

First All Female Crew Flies Combat Mission


From left to right, Staff Sgt. Josie E. Harshe, flight engineer; Capt. Anita T. Mack, navigator; 1st Lt. Siobhan Couturier, pilot; Capt. Carol J. Mitchell, aircraft commander; and loadmasters Tech. Sgt. Sigrid M. Carrero-Perez and Senior Airman Ci Ci Alonzo, pause in the cargo bay of their C-130 for a group photo following their historic flight. [U.S. Air Force photo]

First All-female Crew Flies Combat Mission                                                     
A crew of six Airmen at a forward deployed location climbed aboard a
C-130 Hercules together recently for the first time

By U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael G. Johnson
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Sept. 27, 2005 — A crew of six Airmen at a forward deployed location climbed aboard a C-130 Hercules together recently for the first time in their careers. But something distinguished this mission from others they had flown --it was the first time an all-female C-130 crew flew a combat mission.

Capt. Carol Mitchell, aircraft commander; 1st Lt. Siobhan Couturier, pilot; Capt. Anita T. Mack, navigator; Staff Sgt. Josie E. Harshe, flight engineer; and loadmasters Tech. Sgt. Sigrid M. Carrero-Perez and Senior Airman Ci Ci Alonzo are all permanently assigned to the 43rd Airlift Wing at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., and currently are deployed to the 737th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron flying cargo and troops in and out of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

While some would call their mission “historic,” they feel this mission should be recognized like every other flight -- a successful combat mission.

“I enjoyed flying with this crew, but I don’t think we should go out of our way to have all-female crews,” said Captain Mitchell. “It took a long time for women to become accepted as aircrew members, and now that we are, we would be taking a step back by singling ourselves out rather than blending in with the rest of the Air Force.”

Airman Alonzo agrees. “It was a great experience not many females can say they’ve had,” she said. "However I don’t believe the Air Force should seek out all-female crews -- instead, we should focus on experience.

“(The Air Force) should have the best crews they can put together. Nothing other than qualification and ability should be considered,” said Captain Mack.

Not only did this all female crew fly together for the first time, 6,800 miles from home-station, but they flew the mission on a Vietnam-era airplane -- a significance the crew did not miss.

“Our (aircraft) was a 1962 model. (It) came off the line when women weren’t accepted as C-130 aircrew, let alone in combat,” said Sergeant Harshe.

After the excitement of this all-female C-130 crew flying the first combat mission together wore off, they focused on what really mattered.

“(What matters is) knowing we’re making a difference and seeing it with every mission we fly,“ said Airman Alonzo. "(It's also) moving troops into the theater where they’re needed, seeing the excitement and relief on the faces of the guys and gals we take out of theater who have been there for six months to a year and are on their way home to their loved ones."

During the mission, the crew transported 151 Marines and their equipment.

Another thing they all agreed upon, the mission was a true experience.

“It was a fun thing to be able to say you did, if only once. Not that it is better, this was just different, and probably won’t happen for us again anytime soon just because of the sheer numbers,” said Sergeant Harshe.

Captain Mitchell said one additional benefit of this all female flight was gaining a different perspective.

“One way to avoid (complacency) is to mix the crews up a little, fly with some different people to get a different perspective,” she said. “And what better way to mix the crews up than by putting all the girls on the same crew?”

While the all-female crew did accomplish a unique milestone together, they point out that the significance of their mission success is that every crewmember achieved personal goals to get there.

“I encourage any girl or woman to do what she wants. Too often I hear people say they can’t do something (but it is) because they don’t realize they have the opportunity,” Captain Mack said. “I would tell any person flying is an attainable goal for anyone who wants to work for it. As they say, you are only limited in what you can do by what you can dream.”

New Orleans Police Chief Resigns

Eddie Compass has resigned as Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department.

You may be wondering why I'm posting about this.  I did post a link to a MSNBC video of New Orleans Police looting a Wal-Mart.  I posted about the desertions on the police force (and praised the ones who stayed on duty throughout the madness in the aftermath of Katrina).

But the one reason that this guy should step down is because he and his security detail ran from armed thugs in the Superdome.  They ran when they should have served and protected.

..."It was anarchy inside that building," said Winfrey, who described a scene in which "gangs banded together and had more ammunition, at times, than the police."

The chief described a scene inside that placed him and his team in jeopardy.

"A couple of the gangsters recognized me and said, get (him)," Compass recalled. He and his security team high-tailed it out...

He and his (heavily armed) security team ran away from a couple of gangsters.  That's because they were worried more about saving their own skins than the people left in the Superdome.

[BTW, his quote about the gangsters may be exagerated as most of his statements about the state of New Orleans are being proved exagerations.]

Captain Scott Southworth - Someone You Should Know

SoupNazi sends this article about an amazing Army Officer and an Iraqi orphan.  It's from February and I'm surprised that I hadn't heard about Scott Southworth before.  Thanks to the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal (again) for a great story about our military.

Mission: Adoption
Soldier finds a purpose beyond serving his country while in Iraq

Posted: Feb. 26, 2005

The first time Capt. Scott Southworth visited the orphanage in Baghdad, the little boy was drawn to him immediately.

The boy, who has cerebral palsy and cannot walk, half-crawled, half-dragged himself across the floor until he was seated at Southworth's side, then gazed up at him with a crooked smirk.

"People ask me how I chose him, but I didn't. He chose me," Southworth said.

It was September 2003, and Southworth was in command of the Wisconsin National Guard 32nd Military Police Company during its 14-month tour in Iraq. Their mission was to teach local police officers how to operate in a democracy. Their visits to the orphanage for disabled children were a way for the soldiers to forget the hard times: the shellings, the car bombs, the attacks on the police stations where they worked. And Southworth loved spending time with the little boy, Ala'a.

Southworth grew up in a military family, raised with love of God and country. He graduated from law school at the University of Wisconsin with honors and planned to run for Juneau County district attorney at the end of his deployment.

As for Ala'a (pronounced "Allah"), when he was 3 or 4, an Iraqi police officer found him alone on the streets of Baghdad. The officer brought him to the orphanage, run by the Catholic Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa. By the time Southworth started visiting him there, Ala'a was about 10. The nuns who cared for him had taught him to pray and to speak English.

Face to face, Ala'a called Southworth by his first name, Scott. But the nuns told Southworth they saw a stronger bond beginning to form. Ala'a was always concerned about what he would wear when Southworth came to visit. He was suddenly interested in learning to walk. At night when Ala'a lay down in his crib, he would pray not for himself but for Southworth, whom he felt was in danger. And when he talked about his new friend from America, he called him "Baba," which means "Daddy" in his native Arabic.

"At first, it was just kind of cute, kind of nice," said Southworth, 32, who felt more like Ala'a's big brother than his father.

Then he started to realize what a difference he was making in the boy's life. Sure, Ala'a had always been loved by the nuns, but they loved everyone. This little boy had likely been abandoned by his parents. He'd never had anyone to make him feel valuable as an individual. Now, he did.

"Everybody on the planet needs to feel special to somebody, and I could see that happening for him," Southworth said.

In December, about three months after the two first met, the soldiers had a Christmas party for the orphans. Ala'a, who had been raised Christian, giggled and prattled on about "Baba Noel" - Father Christmas - as he showed Southworth the set of colorful blocks he'd received.

Shortly after the party, one of the doctors who cared for the orphans told Southworth that she was worried about Ala'a's future. He was getting too big for the orphanage. In a year, he would have to move to a government-run home for the disabled, which housed adults and older children. Southworth had heard about the home. By all reports, it was horrible. The doctor confirmed his fears.

"If he goes there, his life is over," the doctor said, speaking more than figuratively...

I'll post the rest of the story in the Extended Section:

Continue reading "Captain Scott Southworth - Someone You Should Know" »


ThunderSix at 365 and a wakeup posts the tributes to three soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq...

...There are over 300000 words in the English language, but I can’t find one to best describe SGT Mike Sonoda. There is nothing I can say that would make his death more tolerable, or less painful. When Mike died serving his God and country, but most of all he fought for us… to keep us safe. Every time he went on patrol he went out with the intent to find IEDs. With the intent to catch terrorists. So that when the rest of us went out we would be safe...

Thunder Six is probably one of the best writers in the MilBlog arena, but he doesn't hold a candle to the troops' tributes of three fallen heroes - the tributes are both heartbreaking and amazing at the same time.

Godspeed John Flynn

    "He believed there was a job to do and he was there to do it." - Christie Flynn about her late husband, Chief Warrant Officer John Flynn

Chief Warrant Officer John Flynn was killed on September 25th when his Chinook crashed in Afghanistan.  John was a friend of Chris C. who visits Walter Reed Army Medical Center for Soldiers' Angels.  This note is from Chris:

Well damn, it was John. I graduated high school with him. I worked my way through college and graduate school paving roads each summer. He was an equipment operator/foreman who I worked with quite a bit. He loved flying, loved his helicopters, and loved the Army National Guard. I could almost bring a job to a stand-still by asking him the right questions about flying. He'd shut off the equipment and get this sort of teacherly bearing about him and explain in detail all about rotary winged aircraft, the particular training he was doing or his latest missions.The only thing he loved more was his family.

There's much more.  The Reno Gazette-Journal had this on the 27th of September:

Afghanistan crash that killed 5 still under investigation

Jeff DeLong

The flag flew at half-staff Monday in the front yard of the Flynn residence in Spanish Springs -- a tribute to a fallen husband, father and son.

Chief Warrant Officer John M. Flynn, 36, and Sgt. Patrick D. Stewart, 35, of Fernley were among the five crew members killed in the Sunday crash of a Chinook helicopter supporting military operations in Afghanistan.

"He believed there was a job to do and he was there to do it," said Flynn's widow, 35-year-old Christine Flynn.

"We're really proud of him for what he did," she said, her eyes pooling. "He believed in his job and his fight for the cause."

Flynn, Stewart, two Oregon residents also in Company D of the Army National Guard's 113th Aviation Regiment and a sergeant from an Army aviation unit based in Germany died when the CH-47 crashed southwest of Deh Chopan in southern Zabul province, Afghanistan. There were no survivors, officials said.

Deployed to Afghanistan in March, Flynn last visited home for about two weeks ending in early August. The 1988 Reno High School graduate and his wife last communicated by instant messaging the night before his death.

During that communication, Flynn mostly inquired about his wife and children, 7-year-old Hannah and 5-year-old Benjamin, Flynn said.

Her husband rarely spoke of the dangers he faced in Afghanistan, she said.

"John protected me from that," she said. "He let me know as little as possible, but I'm a smart woman."

Flynn's father, 68-year-old John J. Flynn of Reno, said his son felt strongly about his duties as a soldier and his mission in Afghanistan.

"He said, 'Dad, someone has to do it,' " Flynn said. "There was no doubt and no hesitation about what he was doing.

"In his mind, and in mine too, he was fighting evil and believed in good."

The elder Flynn said his son would be proud of the "overwhelming" support now being given to his family by friends and neighbors.

"We'll go on because John would have us go on," the father said. "This is what strong families do."

Christine Flynn said she will make sure her children know of the importance of her husband's sacrifice.

"I loved my husband and I'm very proud of him," she said. "His children will know the kind of man he was."

Flynn was an experienced instructor pilot in the CH-47 and also flew the CH-54. He enlisted in the Nevada National Guard in February 1988 and after completing Warrant Officer School in 1992.
"These soldiers epitomize the sacrifice and dedication our guardsmen bring to our communities," Brig. Gen. Cindy Kirkland, Nevada adjutant general, said. "While we all grieve over their loss, the Nevada Guard will do our best to take care of their families and the families of the rest of the soldiers still deployed to Southwest Asia."

There's a fund set up to help take care of John's family.  If you'd like to help you can donate to the John Flynn Memorial Fund at the Bank of America. The account number is 004970795551.

If you're in Nevada, then you are probably seeing a lot of opportunistic types taking advantage of the crash to harp their anti-war, bring them home mantras.  Think about supporting Christie Flynn and her family (along with the Stewarts) during their time of need.  And think about showing support for the mission in Afghanistan.  We need to ensure that the sacrifices made to free Afghanistan - John Flynn's sacrifices - were not made in vain.

Godspeed Chief Flynn.