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October 2005

Bruce Willis and Deuce Four

Bruce Willis, military supporter, actor and musician, will be attending the Deuce Four (1-24) Ball this weekend to demonstrate his support for LTC Kurilla's battalion.

Michael Yon will be there, too, and writes about the upcoming event.

Paying Respect To Those Who've Earned It
...Nearly 600 soldiers were killed or wounded from the 1st Brigade (Stryker), 25th Infantry Division, while fighting in Iraq. I visited the newly built 1st Brigade Memorial, and as I read the names of the fallen etched in the granite face of the memorial, I was humbly reminded of the great price our soldiers continue to pay for my freedom to write and to speak.

I look forward to spending the next week with American soldiers at Fort Lewis and attending the Deuce Four Ball on November 5th. Both Bruce Willis and I are honored to be invited. I will write a full report after the occasion...

Do you Deserve Your Citizenship?

Ask yourself that question.

Sergeant Walter Gaya from Deuce Four (recon scout/sniper) is from Argentina and not an American citizen.  Just days before he was to become one, he was wounded.  And a bureaucratic nightmare begins.

Vet Who Photographed Iraq Loses Sight


...the vision remains impaired he can only make out shapes and light and billboard-size letters, he said. At this point, Gaya is considering a cornea transplant.

The wound has turned his life upside down.

When Gaya returned to Fort Lewis, he joined other injured soldiers assigned to odd jobs around the base. With his impaired vision, his days as a sniper were over.

Some days he would help move furniture around; other times he would prepare barracks for the return of the battalion.

The attack had also upturned other parts of his life. The Argentina-born immigrant, who moved to the United States as a child, was injured just eight days before he was to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a ceremony in Iraq.

Now, he's in a bureaucratic black hole: Federal immigration officials wouldn't renew his permanent resident card or tell him when he could reschedule the swearing-in ceremony. No one at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office could tell him what to do next to get his citizenship papers, or even how to renew his immigration documents.

One day, as he was moving furniture at Fort Lewis, he found a copy of an old newspaper with a photograph of soldiers at the citizenship ceremony in Iraq that he had missed.

He tossed it aside and kept working.

After several surgeries and countless doctor's visits, the vision in Gaya's left eye still is blurry and distorted, as if he's opening his eyes underwater.

"Now that I have all this scar tissue built up, it's very difficult to see because the light is being refracted," he said.

But his right eye is uninjured, and Gaya believes he can still shoot pictures despite a loss of peripheral vision.

"I don't think it hindered my passion for photography one bit," he said. "I've always been not much of a quitter kind of guy. Did it wear on me? It did at first a little bit. But I primarily use my right eye, so by no means is it going to slow me down at all ever."

Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, Gaya's commanding officer who also returned to Fort Lewis after being wounded in Mosul, called Gaya a "quiet professional. He's the type of soldier that every commander wished he had a hundred of."...

Sondra K at Knowledge Is Power is all over thisMike Yon is helping out.  And we could use your help in pushing the Powers That Be to help Sergeant Gaya.  Especially, if you live in Washington state, we need your help with mobilizing Washington's Congressmen, Senators and Governor. 

It's the least we could do for a genuine hero that deserves to be an American.

Update:  Common Sense Run Wild has more on this, too.

Update:  Mike Yon, via Sondra K, says that the citizenship issue is under control.  Thanks to all for your concern about Sergeant Gaya!


I'm in the middle of putting a book together about MilBloggers and I'm coming to the realization that I can't keep posting prolifically and focusing on the book at the same time.

At least not alone.

So, if you would like to be a guest poster here, shoot me an email.  You don't need to
be a blogger to do this.

Lots of people volunteering (didn't you guys learn anything in the military?) ;->


Follow Up - Last Night I Met A Hero

Following up on this post.

Received an email about the status of the vehicle commander who tried to rescue his medic in the burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

The SFC has 2nd and 3rd degree burns on 65% of his body.  He is at Brooke receiving treatment.  All reports are that is he is doing well and hanging tough.  He's awake.  His wife is by his side.  And he wants to get back to his men.

The medic didn't make it.  Damn.  Just damn...

Help Soldiers' Angels Give Our Heroes A Happy Holiday

I received this important message from Don McKay of Soldiers' Angels:

It is that time of year again. Soldiers’ Angels has been busy for the last couple months organizing and collecting donations of items to include in our annual Holidays for Heroes stocking drive! It is a special time of year and we can only imagine how difficult it is for our brave men and women to spend this time away from their loved ones. Our desire is to reach out and bring a little piece of home to them so that they know they are not forgotten, especially at this time of the year.

Unfortunately, Soldiers’ Angels, along with many other charitable groups, is really feeling the pinch in donations this year. This is due to many factors including Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and now Wilma, along with high gas prices and uncertainty in our economic well being, not to mention our safety. Soldiers’ Angels needs help desperately raising funds so that we can make sure our brave soldiers have the holiday they deserve. Without your help and that of other generous Americans, we will not be able to reach our goals. We will have soldiers who do not hear anything from home. Some will be on the front lines in Iraq or Afghanistan; some will be in a hospital bed in Germany. We can’t let this happen.

Can you help?  What do we need? Cash! We need monetary donations, and we need them today!!! Please make checks payable to Soldiers’ Angels and send them to:

Soldiers’ Angels
Holiday for Heroes
1792 East Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA  91104

Or if you prefer, you can send your donation through PayPal. Simply go to www.paypal.com and send your donation to [email protected]. Be sure to enter HOLIDAY FOR HEROES in the comments section so that you donation can be applied appropriately.

Anything will help. $1, $5, $10, $100… Please give of your hearts so that our brave men and women in uniform – our heroes – hear from us loud and clear this holiday season that we support them and care about them.

Anything you can do to help is appreciated. If you have any questions, please email me at [email protected]. Feel free to visit our website at www.soldiersangels.org.

There's more intiatives from Soldiers' Angels as well.

Not A Number - Part II

    "Not in vain" may be the pride of those who have survived and the epitaph of those who fell." - Winston Churchill - House of Commons Address, 1944

Peter Daou, one-time adviser to the Kerry-Edwards campaign, decides to go after those of us who call the "grim milestone" what it is - a side-line marker that the left will use and celebrate.

Sometimes, I think Peter just is trying to stir the pot - trying to get hits and links -  because that's his actual job.  Sometimes, I think his heart is in the right place.

Here's what he has to say about me today:

SLIMING THE QUAKERS, PART 2: Last week  Michelle Malkin and Little Green Footballs characterized candlelight vigils by the Quakers marking the milestone of 2000 military deaths in Iraq as "parties."

Today, the MilBlog Blackfive follows them into the gutter. "There are two groups that will celebrate and use George Alexander's sacrifice. The morally bankrupt anti-war movement. And Al Qaeda."

I find this rash of posts suggesting that anti-war activists "celebrate" the deaths of American soldiers to be both tragic and telling.

Tragic, because it represents a descent into depraved, gutter-level slander as a form of argumentation, and it is a profoundly un-American approach to a most American of activities: dissent. Telling, because it means these bloggers have nothing left to justify the deaths of Americans in Iraq but desperate and transparent attacks on those who want our troops home...

Typical of the far left.  According to them, I don't get to have an opinion, either.  Note to Peter:  I'm dissenting, too.  Dissenting against the bull@#$% of the anti-war movement. 

Using the deaths of my friends as an excuse to spout socialistic and anarchistic drivel is not acceptable to me.

And you don't believe that the left isn't celebrating the deaths of my friends?  Don't believe it's a celebration?  Zombie has the proof.  It's disgusting and reprehensible.  Did you know that they're planning a large protest at Walter Reed where wounded vets are recovering?  Is that acceptable to Peter?

We're in Iraq now - will be there for years.  And the only way to win is to keep improving while completing the mission.  It'll take years.  It'll be tough going.  And more lives will be lost or irrecovably changed.

Daou continues:

...Regular readers know this issue is personal for me. I did what many of these war-supporting bloggers (MilBloggers excluded) have never done but are eager to encourage others to do: I fought the "terrorists" in Lebanon as a young man. I defended my family against the Syrian military and helped lay the groundwork for the "Cedar Revolution." I was in Beirut when we lost hundreds of brave Marines. I experienced the horrors of war in the Middle East, the rivers of blood in the streets. And because I knew the hell we were sending our young men and women into, I marched in opposition to the Iraq invasion.

I did it for one basic reason: I believed that our government was lying about the rationale for war. If we send courageous Americans to die in a foreign land, the moral underpinning MUST be rock solid. Unassailable ethical justification for war is essential if we want to maintain our moral standing, our dignity, our humanity. In a word: America isn't America if we lie our way into war. There's no better way to undermine the sacrifice of our military men and women than to deprive them of the purity of purpose that undergirds their mission...

Aside from the I'm-better-qualified-than-anyone-to-have-an-opinion-about-war drivel, Pete says he was anti-war because he knows the horrors of war.  But, then, he says the one reason he was against the war - marched against the invasion - was because, according to Pete, it was based on lies. 

The "lies"?  That's Peter politicizing the war.

"Bush lied"?  Hell, even Saddam thought he had WMD.  Get over it.

Peter Daou was against the invasion but worked on the Kerry campaign.  Let me remind you all of a few quotes from John Forbes Kerry:

    "[WE]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." - Letter to President Clinton, signed by Sens. Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, and others Oct. 9, 1998

    "I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force-- if necessary-- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security." - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

    "Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction...So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..." - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003

So was Peter either working for someone that he believed in or whoever was paying him to be a spinmeister? 

Peter quotes another blogger then wraps up by paraphrasing from the blogger:

...Bottom line: If Malkin, LGF, and Blackfive think opponents of the Iraq war are "celebrating" the deaths of American troops,  let them answer the basic paradox of their position, namely, how is it that wanting our troops NOT to die is worse than wanting them to remain in the line of fire?

Well, in order to answer this one-sided question, I can't speak for anyone but myself.

Of course, I don't want our troops to die.  I've lost three very good friends in this war.  I talk to my friend's widow every week.  I've had several friends wounded.  And I've visited wounded heroes.  I've met Iraqis, too.

They aren't numbers to meThat's why I blog.  That's why folks like Peter Daou and others on the far left side of the aisle don't want me to have an opinion.

Some things are worth fighting for.  A free Iraq is worth fighting for.  A free Middle East is worth fighting for.  A world free of terrorism is worth fighting for. 

My friends believed that, too.

The people that are against a free Iraq are people that don't believe that anything is worth fighting for.

Update:  LGF responds.