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February 2007

Taking care of those done with the fighting

I have said before that the cost of this war is small compared to others we have fought and that's true, but it is unfair to those who have paid it and continue to pay it daily. Recently there have been many stories about conditions at Walter Reed and care overall for our wounded; they may not paint an entirely accurate picture, but they sure remind us that we better be paying attention. This blog has tenets that outline what we try to do:

Supporting the Military
Caring for the Wounded
Remembering the Fallen
Honoring the Sacrifices

I am going to spend more of my time here focusing on these and a little less indulging myself poking clowns with sticks. Do not despair lovers of the smart ass, I spun up unclejimbo.com again for just such a purpose. A slightly more decorous tone will be in play here, although beatdowns to deserving souls will still be on the menu, but the red meat versions and my abuse of dum dums will migrate.

I posted the text of a speech by a yet unidentified Special Forces veteran given this Flag Day that was sent to me by a writer for a very well known magazine. It focused on the challenges to our troops once they leave the service, what we owe to those who return from "Out There". It is one of the best examples I have ever seen showing how different you feel coming from a world with bright lines for good and bad to one with no lines. It is haunting because he makes you feel the solitude, the detachment, the otherness. If you haven't read it, do.

We have not had this many folks experience combat since Vietnam and I don't recall that their reintegration into society went particularly well. I know the military has some transition programs but I am also sure they will be far from adequate and administered by bureaucrats. We must ensure that we shine as many lights as we can on holes or inadequacies in the system. But we also must note that it's time for the whole of society to welcome them home. It's time even for all those supporters of the troops to throw in. They certainly would have the low down on therapy and counseling.

The left would love to close this war out as Vietnam deux, but fortunately some good soldiers and marines have something to say about that. Well, win or lose we cannot allow what happened to the Vietnam vets happen to the Iraq War vets. The Dems have all that power of the purse, well open it up Nancy and fund some more VA programs. If you don't have the guts to shut down the war, you could actually help those troops you support so much with some actual support. The Dems are using a chickens with heads cut off approach to trying to lose the war, but I am unaware of any initiatives to fund more veterans programs.

The first tenet is supporting the military and we must do all we can to fight those who have lost or never had the heart for this fight, but the next three all have a lot to do with how we treat those who are no longer boots on the ground. Many folks who read here and other milblogs do tremendous work and hopefully the recent publicity will remind a few more people they should too.

Us Paratroopers - WWII to the War on Terror

Entry found in the diary of a German officer killed at Anzio about the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment:              

    "American parachutists -- devils in baggy pants -- are less than 100 meters from my outpost line. I can't sleep at night; they pop up from nowhere and we never know when or how they will strike next. Seems like the black-hearted devils are everywhere..."

And, via SapperMike at US Paratroopers.org, comes a voice intercept in Iraq is given by the battalion commander, "BlueDevil6", of the 3-504th PIR as it's colors were cased last May to become the 1-508th PIR:

You know one of my favorite stories to tell is that of our time in Haqliniya three or four tough days after our insertion….no one had had much sleep, still reeling from the casualties we had already taken and wondering why it was the enemy had not yet struck back with a VBIED, suicide attack or the like, we knew they were there, we had found some ….we knew we were being successful but hadn’t had time to really consider how successful…then I was handed the intell report that told me what I should have already known.   

They (insurgents) said to each other:

"...these guys are special, they aren't Marines, These are crack troops, you cant get close to them, they are everywhere, why is it different here?...they really have us by the balls...they are merciless"

"…can you get us out of here?"    

The Blue Devils had dominated the city in a way the insurgents’ were not prepared for. Totally disrupted in their operations for the first time, though they had been fighting Marines for over a year, they knew something was different,

How did the enemy know we were different, why did they say we were crack troops?

Did they see any jump wings? Did the see the billboard on I -95?  Had they heard the All American chorus? Did they see CNNs Katrina coverage featuring the 82d in berets?

No all they saw to be different was you….you warriors…..warriors who sought something different, sought bigger boots to fill who volunteer to join the Army and reenlist in an Army at war, volunteer to go to ABN school, volunteer to go to the 82d, volunteer to go to Ranger school, work to be an absolute expert in their job, work to remain in position to deploy and be put in harm’s way, you are what was different…you are the 82d Airborne!

And it is the quality of trooper in this battalion, who allowed us to break the mold of what then enemy had experienced.

Our distinctive Modus Operandi, to go where other units could not, do what other unit would not do…which was controlled, disciplined but relentless pursuit, dismounted, close quarter fighting that not only dominated the battlefield but moved the battlefield from the IED fight on the roads of coalition convoys to the living rooms and bedrooms of insurgent homes.

This was not possible without the special drive, individual initiative and unstoppable spirit of the American Paratrooper…that was the rule in 3-504 and will be the rule in 1-508.

As we close the history book likely forever on the 3-504 and open this new chapter in the history of the 1-508, we all know the work of the American Paratrooper is not done. The enemy we fight is like no other, he has a plan…world domination, complete destruction of our way of life by the numbers…1/3 converted to radical Islam, 1/3 enslaved, 1/3 slaughtered, his foot soldiers embrace death as an escape from a life without purpose, a perverted, sociopath to road immortality…

Who stands in there way?

Only the American fighting man, personified by the American Paratrooper stands in there way. America is the indispensable nation, the paratrooper an indispensable component to its survival.  Paratroopers of the 1-508, your days of sacrifice and loss are not over, your nation will again call upon you to go into harms way in a foreign land.  To go where other will not go, do what other will not do…just like paratroopers always have…

I propose a toast to the 1-508 PIR…

Men of valor, Men of Honor, Different men


Spiritual Warfare Needed - Marine Corporal David Emery Jr.

A lot of you ask what you can do.  In some cases, you can do a lot like adopt a soldier or donate to help wounded soldiers (ie. Valour-IT) at Soldiers' Angels.

In other cases, prayers are simply the most and the best that you can do.


Marine Corporal David Emery Jr. of the Battalion Landing Team of the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit was serving in Iraq.  David, aka "DJ", graduated high school in 2003.  He is married to the beautiful lass in the above photo, Leslie, and she is pregnant.  DJ's unit was extended past their rotation date of January 1st and he was hoping to make it home in time for his child's birth.

On February 7th, 2007, DJ was at a checkpoint near a crowded place when a terrorist walked up to the Marines.  DJ's Battalion Sergeant Major, Joseph Ellis (a recon Marine of 23 years), suspected that a bomber was approaching and put himself between the bomber and his Marines.

The bomber quickly detonated himself, instantly killing Sergeant Major Ellis.  The Sergeant Major's sacrifice absorbed enough of the blast to barely keep DJ from being killed.  DJ was hit hard in his abdomen - an artery was cut causing kidney failure - both legs and one arm were shattered, and, in fact, his wounds were so severe that doctors didn't think that he'd make it.  They had him on a respirator, fighting infection, fever, kidney failure and other problems for a time before he stabilized enough (just barely) to make the flight to Germany where his parents and wife met him.  While still unconscious, his family kept telling him to fight.  Then, on the 18th, DJ was strong enough to make the trip from Germany to the US (Bethesda).

DJ had a tough surgery yesterday.  His prognosis is hour to hour so prayers at anytime are needed.

To donate to a fund to help the family deal with the expenses of caring for DJ, make checks or money orders payable to the "Nittany Leathernecks Detachment" and mail to:

Nittany Leathernecks
Attention: Cpl. Emery Fund
P.O. Box 956
Lemont, PA 16851-0956

Cards and letters of support can be sent to:

CPL David Emery
c/o National Naval Medical Center
Intensive Care Unit
8901 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, Md 20889

DJ and Leslie will have a little girl soon.  I think I'll be able to get you Baby Shower information at a later time.

DJ's father, David, attended Sergeant Major Ellis' funeral at Arlington Cemetery on the 21st.

Sergeant Major Ellis' daughter Rachel said, "He just wanted to make a difference.  Anytime he was asked to go somewhere, even times when he didn't have to, he would. He wanted to be there for his troops."

Sergeant Major Ellis was 'Always Faithful' to DJ. 

Like Soldiers' Angel MaryAnn, we should be the same.

Update 03-31-07:  Both his legs have been amputated and are infected.  DJ's stomach wound is infected and can't be closed until the infection is gone.  And his kidneys are not working still...

At this point, please pray for a miracle.

Fallujah Surgical Saves Mosque Bombing Victims

By Ernesto Londono
The Washington Post
Published: Sunday, February 25, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq - During what turned out to be the last Friday prayer he led, Imam Mohammad al-Marawi urged worshipers at a Sunni mosque in the western city of Habbaniyah to stand firmly against al-Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni insurgent group that has a strong following in the area.

``A bunch of corrupted individuals,'' the imam called the group's members, according to a man who was at the service.

Less than 24 hours later, someone in a Mercedes truck drove up next to the mosque and detonated explosives hidden under piles of stone and marble. At least 40 people were killed, including 15 who were praying inside the mosque...

This bombing was most likely committed by Al Qaeda against the people who are standing up to them.  Below is a Marine video package of bombing victims being brought to Camp Fallujah to be taken care of by coalition medical personnel. Produced by Cpl. Chris Stankiewicz of  II Marine Expeditionary Force Public Affairs. Also see "Petty Officer Bruno" and "Capt. Khan" in the Interviews section.

Rangers Make A Wish Come True

Al sends this AP story in the Army Times about the 6th Ranger Battalion (TNG) helping a young man realize a dream:

Sick child gets wish to train with Rangers
By Melissa Nelson - The Associated Press
Posted : Monday Feb 26, 2007 13:02:59 EST

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Weakened by his lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis, 14-year-old Riley Woina dreams of being strong like the war heroes he watches in movies.

The Army’s 6th Ranger Training Battalion on Eglin Air Force Base recently helped him realize this unusual dream.

Susan Woina joked that her son could have taken his Plymouth, Conn., family to Walt Disney World or gone on a shopping spree through the Make-A-Wish Foundation instead of spending a week crawling in the mud with soldiers in the Florida Panhandle.

“You always want what you cannot have and he’ll never be able to join the Army because of his cystic fibrosis, so of course he wants that more than anyone else would. He would join the Army today if he could,” she said.

The family has no connection to the military, except through the many war movies Riley loves to watch. Inspired by his favorite movies, “Black Hawk Down” and the HBO World War II series “Band of Brothers,” he researched Ranger training and learned about 6th Ranger Training Battalion.

Riley said he couldn’t think of anything better — not even visiting a chocolate factory — than seeing Camp James E. Rudder, where Rangers face their final and most difficult training challenges.

“I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to do anything like this again. They do everything down here, the swamp training, everything,” he said, while eating with his new Ranger buddies in the chow hall.

And the 80-pound 14-year-old, weakened by his degenerative illness, said he doesn’t feel any sympathy for the physical punishment Rangers experience for 18 days at Camp Rudder.

“It’s a way of life for them; they are the ones that signed up for it so it’s their fault,” he said to the chuckles of the Rangers around him.

What he likes most about the Rangers: “Their determination to leave no man behind.”...

Read the rest here.

Soldier Gets 100 Years - A Light Sentence

Five soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division participated in the planning and execution of a rape and murder plot of a fourteen year old Iraqi girl and her family.  The one soldier who held the girl down while the others took their turns on her was given the lightest sentence of 90 years.

Aside from the obvious problems that these murders escalate (more violence against American troops), no amount of stress, groupthink or any other reason can exist for the rape and murder of a woman, let alone a fourteen year old girl.

These men are dead to me.

Brilliant Flag Day speech- from MSM source

I got an email from a journalist with a magazine you all know and that I doubt I've written anything nice about. She had heard a speech that really got her attention and sent along this, crazy planet when blogs have unnamed sources in the MSM eh?

The speech was delivered at a flag ceremony in the US Feb 18.  I found it very moving and (based on my experience of veterans generally), deeply truthful.  I hope you'll find it worth the read--your readers might, as well.
The author wanted to stay anonymous, but his authenticity and honor breathe in every line.
Please note that this is a "speaking draft."

The speaker is a former paratrooper and Special Forces vet, a well-loved breed 'round here, and someone who has a keen perspective and a well-honed sense of reality. Enjoy!

Welcome to this small ceremony …like other small ceremonies held in small chambers in small communities among small congregations around a great Nation, great if for no other reason than  that she in no way compels us to do things like this.  We don’t orchestrate crowds, mobs, demonstrations in this country. We allow them.  And, happily… we pretty much disregard them.  The noisier, gaudier ones, at least.  Anyhow.  We’ll see what comes of this small one…

The words of the prophet Jeremiah:
My bowels.  My bowels.  I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoilt and my curtains in a moment.  How long shall I see the standard and hear the
sound of the trumpet?

            I dunno about Jeremiah's bowels… or his curtains, but… we’ve gone over the falls again, Ladies and  Gentlemen.  Civilians out there mooing again about that Thin Red Line, the "Thin Red Line of 'eroes"—in Kipling's words—that stands between them and the Darkness.  ’Course it’s not red any more.  Used to be olive drab.  Then treetop camouflage. Then woodland.  Then chocolate chip.  Now pixilated, random computer-generated.  Progress.  Your sons and daughters, my Cadets are in the soup again, though.  Me?  I can't see the front sights of me piece any more.  And if I can still lug my rucksack five miles, I need these days to be defibrillated when I get there.  Nope.  I got something like six Honorable Discharges from Pharoah's Army. That lady in the back row’s gonna be wearing kevlar before I do.  Nope.  This one's on the kids, I'm afraid.

Continue reading "Brilliant Flag Day speech- from MSM source" »

70 Year Old Vet Thwarts Attack in Costa Rica

Many of you have sent the link to this amazing story about a bus load of tourists from a Carnival Cruise on a tour of Costa Rica that were held up by some thugs...until a 70 year old veteran among them took a stand:

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica - An American tourist who watched as a U.S. military veteran in his 70s used his bare hands to kill an armed assailant in Costa Rica said she thought the attempted robbery was a joke — until the masked attacker held a gun to her head.

“I thought it was a skit. But then he pointed the gun at my head and grabbed me by the throat and I thought I was going to die,” Clova Adams, 54, told The Associated Press by telephone Friday from the Carnival Liberty cruise ship.

The assault occurred during a ship stopover Wednesday in Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital.

Adams was with 12 American tourists who hired a driver to explore Costa Rica for a few hours. They were climbing out of the van to visit a Caribbean beach when three men wearing ski masks ran toward them, she said. One held a gun to her head, while the other two pulled out knives.

Tourist fights back
Suddenly, one of the tourists, a U.S. military veteran trained in self defense, jumped out of the van and put the gunman in a headlock, according to Limon police chief Luis Hernandez.

Hernandez said the American, whom he refused to identify, struggled with the robber, breaking his collarbone and eventually killing him. Police identified the dead man as Warner Segura, 20. The other two assailants fled.

“I was very scared at the moment,” Costa Rican bus driver Roberto Frances Allen said in an interview in Limon.

“The bus was shaking and women were screaming,” he recalled. “There were two shots and I heard him (Segura) try to fire more, but the gun didn’t fire. Luckily, the tourists had forced his hand up and the shots hit the roof of the bus.”

Afterward, the tourists drove Segura to a hospital, where he was declared dead. Sergio Lopez, a Red Cross auxiliary, examined Segura’s body and said he died from asphyxiation.

Lopez also treated Adams for a panic attack.

“She was very nervous after the assault, but she had not been physically hurt,” Lopez said...