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December 2006

Let's kick 2007's ass

2006 was not all I had hoped for, but all of my family is happy and well and that is how I score things. My extended family, all y'all and all those who play the game, didn't have that good a year. We took some hits and some good folks are hurting. Remember the Angels and anyone else helping out. We can't dwell on the costs or we would never honor those who knew them and paid them. Much love to any and all who felt the sting during 2006. But we all know they require that we soldier on, and that means we laugh instead of crying, or at least after.

So in honor of that I introduce the newest X-treme sport, Whale Bellyin', oh yeah baby! All you need is mid-sized waves, a whale-belly, a little rum from the islands and no concept of gravity. We held the first ever Montego Bay Invitational and shockingly I dominated. The tale of that and other adventures to follow but here is a taste of the master at work.

Whale_belly_2 Airborne, all the way!

Happy New Year!

Well, the New Year fast approaches. Jenny and I have a busy day ahead. Rather, I do and Jenny is intent on supervising as I clean, start cooking, and do all manner of things. Yet, we still want to take the time to wish all our friends here a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year; and, to wish quick and appropriate solutions to the enemies of freedom everywhere.

If you want a good laugh to day, Chris Muir does it again with this revealing look at our uneducated and mistaken troops...

If you want to do something good for all who serve, and particularly for those injured, go make a donation to Soldier's Angels. I think a good resolution for the new year might be to send a small amount each month, don't you?

So, let's be careful out there as we move forward into the new year.


Submariners perish after fall into sea

Not many details as of yet...just saw this come up on the Telegraph UK:

Two US submarine crew die off Devon coast

By Sally Peck and agencies

Last Updated: 5:29pm GMT 29/12/2006

Two crew members from the American submarine the USS Minneapolis have died after falling overboard as the vessel left England today.

A US military spokesman said: "Four sailors from the USS Minneapolis fell overboard today when getting under way from Devonport.

"All four were rescued and taken to hospital where two were pronounced dead. The other two were checked and have been released.

"The names of the sailors are being withheld until their next of kin have been informed.

"The submarine had just completed a week long visit to Plymouth."...

More at CBS...

Milblogger Down

SPC J.R. Salzman, 1/34 BCT

J. R. Salzman, who writes at Lumberjack in a Desert has been injured by an IED. His right arm has been amputated below the elbow, his left arm and hand are injured, but he notes that he is "in high spirits" (his sense of humor is still there) and that he "will be ok." Get on over there, let him know that he is in a lot of thoughts and prayers. He has, as he notes, a long haul ahead of him. Hat tip goes to Tammi on this one.


Update from Blackfive:  It appears that he is at Walter Reed now.  Soldiers' Angels are working on getting him a Project Valour-IT laptop and a visit soon. For those who don't know, JR has competed (and medaled) in the annual Lumberjack World Championships/Great Outdoor Games (as seen on OLN). His mad lumberjack skilz have even made it into the movies (he log-rolled Steve Martin). 

See the Donovan at Argghhh! for more...

Thanks!, again, to all the bloggers and readers who contributed to our Project Valour-It competition this year.

Update from Blackfive 2:  MaryAnn of Soldiers' Angels Germany actually visited him in Germany last week.  He was recovering from surgery and still out it, but she left a goodie bag and phone card for him.

Update from Laughing Wolf 3: I've just heard from his mother and have asked her permission to share her reports with you. For now, what I will share is that he has had what they hope will be the last surgery on his lost arm, and that despite pain and all, he remains in high spirits. Thanks are sent to everyone who has offered thoughts, prayers, and good wishes. As for me, while the competition may be over, go hit the buttons to donate to Soldiers Angels, and hit it again for Project Valour-It.

Update from Blackfive 01-01-07:  Talked to JR and his wife on New Year's Eve to wish him a successful 2007.  More here.

Lessons Learned

When you decide to go to war, make sure you go ball’s deep. In my segment on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday, I focused on the frustrations that I hear from milblogs to MSM reports to reports from my own sources that the ROEs have devolved to the point of absurdity and our forces are more fearful of UCMJ violations than they are of enemy insurgents. This devolution of the ROEs in Iraq originated from an institutional CYA instinct by the DOD and senior commanders resulting from sensationalist media coverage of such events as Abu Ghraib, CIA "secret prisons", and various manufactured Gitmo abuse claims.

The Ethiopian Army has imposed no such constraints on itself and is doing to islamist forces in Somalia in days what the UN, and the US weren’t able to achieve in years. Reports from the front indicate that the Islamic Courts who had been administering sharia law in Mogadishu have surrendered and fled the city in advance of the Ethiopian assault. Obviously, the Ethiopian Army’s combat power, training, and capabilities are a mere fraction of ours and yet they are decisively defeating a fanatical and entrenched enemy in an urban environment. Why?

Off the top of my head, I would say that Ethiopia is not afflicted with a pernicious and defeatist media machine that is capable of manipulating public opinion, and even if it was, it doesn’t look like the Ethiopian president would give a damn in any case. The word that comes to mind is resolve. When a leader resolves to send men into battle, he is obligated to withstand the criticism of the media so that the troops who are withstanding hostile fire from the enemy are able to decisively defeat that enemy. This is the area where the President, Rumsfeld, and the Generals have been found wanting. Wars cannot be won with restrictive ROEs that allow the enemy to use our self imposed limitations against us. If the situation dictates that ROEs of this type must be employed, then it has not yet reached a point where combat troops are warranted.

This vicious cycle, in my opinion, is a primary reason for our difficulties in Iraq and the reversal of these policies, meant to protect military commanders and administration officials from criticism, would end up being the best "way forward" strategy that we could employ.

h/t Hot Air & Bill Roggio

Christmas in Kuwait, Mike Yon Style

Mike Yon has a post about Christmas in Asia (southwest and southeast)...he should be in Baghdad about now:

...Some foreign officers surmised that the false sense of isolation felt by many Americans propels our civilian government to precipitous behavior bathed and bleached by bright stage-lights. Under pressure from a packed house all too willing to suspend disbelief, our civilian leaders pretend they have a crystal ball and magic wand, knowing that if they do not, we’ll vote for a better set of actors who can persuade us they do...

I love his take on soldiers' morale at the end of the post.   

Be sure to support the next dispatch.  Mike needs our support to continue blogging from Iraq.

Timothy Bramhall - 911 Hero & Soldier in Iraq - Someone You Should Know

Photo by SPC Ryan Stroud

Pfc. Timothy Bramhall, 5-73 Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, pulls guard during a mission in Balad Ruiz, Iraq. On September 11, 2001, Pfc. Timothy Bramhall was on his way to process out of the US Army Reserve in NYC when a plane struck the first World Trade Center tower:

9-11 Hero Still Doing His Part in Iraq

By Spc. Ryan Stroud
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

BALAD RUIZ, Iraq (Dec. 19, 2006) – On the morning of September 11, 2001, Pfc. Timothy Bramhall made his way to downtown New York City to officially end his military career. After proudly serving in the Army Reserves, the Bronx native felt he was at a crossroads in life and needed guidance on what to do with his bright future. Bramhall decided it was time for him to exit the military and start anew.

Little did he know, the guidance on what to do with his life, the guidance he was searching for, was about to hit him like a ton of bricks.

Bramhall stepped off the train at Madison Square Garden station to find the world he knew, the world he grew up in, now searching for his help and his guidance.

On September 11, 2001, a day that will never leave Bramhall’s heart, terrorists attacked both towers of the World Trade Center, causing them to fall and end the life of many innocent people.

“I was getting ready to get out of the Army,” said Bramhall. “On 9-11, I went downtown to be out-processed, but found myself at the World Trade Center doing search and rescue.”

“I just walked out of the Madison Square Garden Train Station, and these Secret Service agents grabbed me and asked if I would help pull security since I was in uniform,” he said. “I didn’t think, I just did what I was asked to do.”

Bramhall, fighting through the chaos from the citizens of NYC, followed his orders and made his way to the Towers to help secure the area. As he was pulling security, Bramhall was asked to help with one of the biggest missions of his life – go into the Towers to help people exit them before they fell.

“While I was pulling security, I was pulled into a mission to start clearing one of the Towers,” he said. “Once again, I followed my orders.”

Though he admits he was scared of what might happen to him, Bramhall bravely entered the second Tower, completely fulfilling one of the U.S. Army’s core values, personal courage. Bramhall put the lives of the people stuck in the Towers over his own. He was driven and knew he had to help.

“At first I was really scared,” Bramhall admitted. “At the time I went into the Towers, people were jumping out of them. I saw one person jump and hit a fire fighter and kill him. After that, I wanted to turn and run.”

“I thought to myself, ‘I’m too young to die,’” he continued. “But then it hit me.

"These people are scared and what would they think if they saw a guy in uniform run from a situation like this? So I regained my composure and went right back to the mission, not really knowing what would happen next.”

Bramhall’s fear hit a new level as soon as he heard the alarm signaling the Tower was about to fall.

“I was inside the building helping everyway I could when I heard the alarm signaling the Tower was falling,” he said. “All I remember after that was running out the building and down this ally. I ducked down and cradled myself to protect myself from falling debris. I felt this huge rushing wind that seemed to pull everything by me.”

After the second tower fell, Bramhall linked up with another Soldier and two Marines, and went to work searching for people in the wreckage.

“Unfortunately, we mostly were pulling out bodies, but kept up the hope that we would find survivors,” said Bramhall...

After a week of searching, Bramhall hit the jackpot...more after the Jump.

Continue reading "Timothy Bramhall - 911 Hero & Soldier in Iraq - Someone You Should Know" »

Kid Rock Spends XMas with Troops in Iraq

*cough* slightly more popular than Jawn Carry...


Kid Rock serves lunch to U.S. troops on Christmas day in the international zone in Baghdad, Iraq. Rock said, he wanted to spend Christmas with the troops to lift moral and give back to Soldiers as well as set an example for his son. Photographer (both photos): Pfc. Marcus Gable - 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.


Kid Rock meets with Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Rustamiyah, Iraq, on Christmas Day. During Rock’s two day visit, he met with hundreds of troops at six different forward operating bases in Iraq.

Soldiers' Angels Earn Their Wings (via DoD)

Below is a story from the Army about Soldiers' Angels:

Soldiers' Angels Earn Their Wings

34576By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim
2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs

FORWARD OPERATING BASE FALCON, Iraq – It was in Frank Capra’s 1946 classic, “It’s A Wonderful Life” that the saying, “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets their wings” was popularized.

During this holiday season, the saying could be, “Every time someone sends a letter to a FOB Falcon Soldier, an angel gets their wings.”

In this case, the “angels” are fellow Americans from the Soldiers’ Angels Organization.

Soldiers with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion’s Supply Support Activity are corresponding with people from all over the United States through letters and e-mails.

“I just wanted someone to write to me,” said Pfc. Marisela Tapia, an automated logistical supply specialist assigned to Company A from Anaheim, Calif. “I went to the internet café and read the story [on the website]. That’s when I decided to sign up, and one week later, I received a letter.”

It was her supervisor, Staff Sgt. Amador Aguillen, an automated logistical supply specialist, who brought most of his team on board with the program.

“It’s really quick, and it’s really good for the Soldiers,” said the San Antonio native. “It’s good that they are supporting what we do here.”...

The rest of the story is after the Jump.

Continue reading "Soldiers' Angels Earn Their Wings (via DoD)" »