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May 2013

Warning shot?

A veteran in Oregon has some trouble to deal with after he ran a scumbag off his property. The problem is that he fired a warning shot in doing so. It sounds like the guy he ran off was certainly bad news, so why the problems?

On May 26th, 2013 at about 11:21 p.m., Medford Police officers were
dispatched to a report of a 911 hang-up at an apartment at the above
listed address. Officers arrived and determined there was no evidence of
criminal activity. However, while the officers were on scene, they heard a
gunshot and saw a male running. Officers chased down the male and
identified him as Jonathan Kinsella, a wanted felon.

Officers determined that another male, Cory Thompson, 36 years old,
fired an AR-15 Assault Rifle at Kinsella after he found him hiding in his

The investigation revealed that Kinsella saw the officers on scene and ran
knowing he had a warrant. He ran into the backyard of Thompson’s
apartment and tried to climb a fence, but fell down causing a crash.

Thompson went to investigate with his AR-15 rifle. Thompson pointed the
rifle at Kinsella and told him he was armed. Kinsella began walking away
and Thompson fired one round in Kinsella’s direction. Kinsella ran and
was encountered by officers shortly thereafter. No one was struck by the

The investigation revealed that Thompson was not justified in shooting at
Kinsella. Thompson was cited and released for various crimes. His gun
was seized as evidence.

This is actually pretty simple. Warning shots are not a good idea and often not legal. If the bad guy was coming at him and Thompson believed he was in danger, i.e. "feared for his life or the life of others", then he can shoot the intruder. Period. That is the standard for self defense. The standard for warning shots doesn't exist and hence the problems Thompson now faces. If he admitted the guy was walking away as the police report states, then he had no reason to shoot. If the guy was coming at him, then he may have. Essentially the standard for legally firing a warning shot defaults to the standard for self defense. Hopefully Thompson is and was smart enough to make that disctinction. If he was firing at a guy who was already leaving, then he probably deserves the trouble. If not, this is an overreach by law enforcement.

Pegasus 2013

Imagine heading into combat in an unarmed plane with no engines, knowing that if you didn't hit the ground exactly as planned the odds were good you would die.  If crashing into whatever was there didn't kill you, the swamps or river would.  If the other gliders in formation with you didn't make it, the odds were good that you might not take your goal, and the enemy could rather easily surround and destroy you.  If you've seen the movie "The Longest Day" you know that this was the plan for taking the "Pegasus" bridge, along with the nearby Ranville bridge, and securing them for Allied forces.  Oh, and to silence a gun battery that could shell the landings and ships down the road at Sword Beach. Elements of the British 6th Airborne division did so, and secured both bridges within ten minutes of landing. 

The Pegasus Bridge

On 5 June, a force of 181 men under Major John Howard left England in six "Horsa" gliders as part of Operation Deadstick.  The goal was to secure the bridges so that German armor could not get at the eastern flank of the Sword landings, as well as elimnate the gun battery at Merville.  Five of the six gliders landed within yards of the objectives, and despite one landing in a pond (resulting in the drowning death of Lance-Corporal Fred Greenhalgh), the troops poured out and attacked the surprised German troops.  One glider landed at the wrong bridge, some seven miles away, and the majority of troops in it managed to make it back through German lines to rejoin the unit at Ranville. 

The first house liberated in France

The battle to secure and hold the Pegasus bridge was recreated as part of the movie "The Longest Day" and the actor who portrayed Major Howard in it was Richard Todd.  On D-Day, he was part of the 7th Parachute Battalion that were the first reinforcements to reach Maj. Howard and his command.

A German gun emplacement defending the bridge

A famous scene in the movie is the arrival of Lord Lovat's Commandos, being led by a piper.  I have been assured that such did happen, though I am not prepared to swear to the exact tune being played. 

The path leads to markers where two of the gliders landed

In the initial assault on the bridge, Lieutenant Dan Brotheridge became the first soldier to die as a result of enemy gunfire on D-Day. 

The bridge raised to let a boat through

The original bridge was replaced with a new version in the 1990s.  Rather than scrapping the old bridge, it was moved to the nearby memorial and museum.

The original bridge

The memorial and museum

A view of the bridge from near where one glider landed

There is more to come, and I hope to visit most or all of the sites seen in "The Longest Day" while here. 


This trip and other embeds sponsored by MilitaryLuggage.Com and B.N. Shape Clothing.  My thanks to them and to all who have contributed to make this and other trips possible. 

A variety of advertising sponsorships are available, and you can contribute to this trip and other embeds at GoFundMe or at LaughingWolf.net

Book Review - Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson

The following book review is a special provided by Elise Cooper for BlackFive readers. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category on the far right side bar.

9781594205118_p0_v3_s260x420Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson gets inside the mind of one of the greatest sports coaches of all time. He won more championships than any coach in professional sports and made sure players fit into his style, not the other way around. Tagged as the “Zen Master” by sportswriters he used this philosophy to inspire not goad, awaken not challenge, and talked to the players desire to win, not their egos.

There are a few points in the book that were extremely interesting. He opens the book by comparing a winning sports team to a tight-knit military unit, talking about, “the strong brotherhood the soldiers formed, they were more concerned about what happened to their buddies than about what happened to themselves.” He then puts in an important disclaimer, that basketball players do not risk their lives every day like soldiers in Afghanistan. His point being that both a sports team and a military team need trust, love for each other, an ability to perform at the highest levels, and going beyond the purely technical skill or physical talent to succeed.

Another interesting point is the description he gave of his coaching style. He never believed in forcing his will on his players or thinking for his players. “I’ve always been interested in getting players to think for themselves so that they can make difficult decisions in the heat of battle.” Jackson emphasized throughout the book that “selflessness was the holy grail of basketball,” and that winning has no superstars just great players willing to work together. The real indication of a star is how much better he makes his teammates. Jackson also invoked the cliché that there is no “I” in the word team only in the word win.

He also explained about his trademark triangle offense. “The triangle is a simpler offense than most NBA teams run today. Best of all, it automatically stimulates creativity and teamwork, freeing players from having to memorize dozens of set plays.” He liked the fact that it empowers the players where each one plays a vital role, “All five players must be fully engaged every second-or the whole system will fail. That stimulates an ongoing process of group problem solving in real time.” Michael Jordan had to be convinced of this offense’s value, first calling it “that equal opportunity offense,” until he saw how it helped to win championships.

In the book Jackson discusses the many players he coached, pointing out how he dealt with each personality. He compared and contrasted Michael Jordan with Kobe Bryant, noting that Jordan once commented that “Kobe is the only player who can be compared to him, and I have to agree.” The similarities include their extraordinary competitive drive, disregard of pain, playing some of their best games under crippling conditions, and incredible resilience. The differences include having different playing styles with Jordan using his power and strength while Bryant uses his finesse. Jordan was a more accurate shooter and more inclined to not overplay. Jackson stated, “When his shot is off, Kobe will pound away relentlessly until his luck turns. Michael, on the other hand, would shift his attention to defense or passing or setting screens to help the team win the game.” The big difference according to Jackson is that Jordan was a much better leader and knew how to work with his teammates to make sure they were all on the same page while at times Bryant had a self-serving style.

The book also explores Jackson’s philosophy from humanistic psychology, to the Native American thinking process, to Zen mediation. Unless a reader wants to learn about these techniques they might want to skip over them and concentrate on his anecdotes and descriptions of his championship seasons where he won six times with the Chicago Bulls and five times with the Los Angeles Lakers, not to mention the two he won as a player with the New York Knicks.

Eleven Rings is full of revelations about how he became the greatest coach in professional basketball, the players he coached, and his own motivations to winning. Anyone that enjoys the game of basketball will enjoy this book.

Memorial Day

Repost from 2010, with additions from a speech I gave last year. 


He scarce had need to doff his pride or slough the dross of Earth -- E'en as he trod that day to God so walked he from his birth, In simpleness and gentleness and honor and clean mirth.

So cup to lip in fellowship they gave him welcome high And made place at the banquet board -- the Strong Men ranged thereby, Who had done his work and held his peace and had no fear to die.

Rudyard Kipling

Today, we as a nation (and hopefully as individuals) honor those who gave all of their tomorrows so we could have this day.  As you travel, enjoy food and drink, or do some activity:  they gave their life so you could do those things.

They have paid the price for you to have this day.  The least we can do is remember them, on this their day.  Think of them, give thanks for what they did, and acknowledge that price paid.

Today, I will take the time to honor them as a group, and to remember some individuals.  I will remember Major Mathew Schram, whom I never met, just as I will remember my Uncle Foster who's body lies somewhere just off Japan.  I will remember Andy Olmstead. I will remember the men who paid the blood price for COP Ellis to be built, and helped usher the Anbar Awakening into Baghdad.  I will remember the men of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.  The latter groups were major parts of why I did my two embeds.  I never met them in life, but they have shaped who I am today.

I will remember Lance Cpl. Jeremy W. Burris, I man I can't say I truly met, for a nod, a hi, and a brief ID do not constitute truly meeting someone.  What I can say is that I know that which is best in you, for no greater love hath any man.  You died doing for your brothers, and I remember that this day. 

Recently, a few of us have been talking about a phrase that can quickly (for some of us) put teeth on edge:  "Happy Memorial Day"  The phrase strikes me as at best odd, and for far too many an indicator of a lack of knowledge about the day.  Trust Chuck to put things in perspective.  With his permission, I quote a part of a speech he is giving today:

Many of our fellow citizens have no understanding of the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day, other than it means a long weekend.  Many people, especially those with no connection to the military, often confuse the two, citing Memorial Day as a day to thank those serving the nation in uniform.   Recently, a friend of mine commented that “Memorial Day is meant to pay homage to those who gave their lives for this country and our way of life. It is a day to honor the dead.  There is NO such thing as “Happy Memorial Day.”

Respectfully, I disagree, in part, anyway.

Memorial Day is a happy yet solemn, joyful yet tearful, partly sunny yet mostly cloudy kind of day.

We are living the days these men and women never will.  Live them well, be happy, and enjoy the blessings of liberty their service and sacrifice have bought.  Although we take pause today to remember their absence, we must also take this day to celebrate the very liberty they have secured.

Memorial Day should be a "happy" day, the same as Easter.  We remember the sacrifice, and the cost, yet we rejoice in the promise of chocolate rabbits, only six more weeks till spring (if Christ came out of the tomb and saw his shadow) and painted eggs, god-awfully early church services, plastic grass, and kids on a blood-sugar bender.  We remember the sacrifice, and the cost, of the loss of friends and family on this day.  I remember Josh wearing a cape and boxer shorts and little else, standing in the Kuwaiti desert and saluting passing vehicles.  I remember sharing stories and fixing the world’s problems over barbeque and beer with Dan.  I remember Gary creatively counseling another lieutenant who just refused to “get it.”  I remember these men fondly, and am thankful to wear the same uniform, to serve the same nation, and to carry forward where they cannot.

Dan, Josh, and Gary can't spend this day, or any other day with their families, or among us, and we are a poorer nation because of that.  I miss them, but today I pay special attention to their absence, and jealously guard my time with my family.  We will have a happy day, because my friends, my mentors, my brothers have already paid for it, in advance, with interest.

I do not mean to suggest that it is proper to tell a recent widow to have a “Happy” Memorial Day.  I know the families of the fallen, and especially the recently fallen, spend this day in grief, but they spend this day remembering none the less.  They will, in time, first recall the good things, the joys and happiness, the special days; and will lock away the days which hurt the most.  These families, these survivors, have something their warriors no longer have… time.  They have time to grieve, time to mourn, and time to heal.  They will, soon enough, spend their memorial days at family barbeques, pool openings, amusement parks, and all manner of fun and happy occasions.

On Memorial Day, these families, mine and hopefully yours, will also pause to remember all of the joyful times we spent with those who have stood their final muster, and then we too, will go on living, and have a happy Memorial Day.

To the God in Man displayed -- Where'er we see that Birth, Be love and understanding paid As never yet on earth!

To the Spirit that moves in Man,
On Whom all worlds depend,
Be Glory since our world began
And service to the end!

Final stanzas, The Choice, Rudyard Kipling


From a speech in 2011:

On this day of memory, I want to introduce you to some of the most recent, who have special meaning to me.

Major Mathew Schram gave his life this day in 2003.  He was the colleague and friend of someone I give thanks to be able to call friend.  On this day, he led a convoy in Iraq and when it came under attack, he and his driver personally counterattacked to a plan they had worked out in advance.  Their action caused the enemy to flee; however, Major Schram was killed in the process.  It is worth noting that aside from him, no one else died because of his plan and prompt action.  Two other soldiers were wounded, one of whom, his driver, continued the mission.  It is also well worth noting that the convoy was being followed by a vehicle with a reporter for a major weekly magazine.  When the ambush broke, they turned to flee and did so – something that would not have been possible if not for Major Schram’s action and sacrifice.  It is also worth noting that the reporter and magazine never reported on this, as it wasn’t news that a good and better man died to save his life.  From all I have heard of Mat Schram, I do wish I could have met him and known him.  I remember him this day. 

Specialist Marieo Guerrero, Captain Anthony Palermo, Private First Class Damian Lopez, and Specialist Ryan Dallam died in 2007 in West Rasheed, Iraq.  They were part of the catalyst for my first embed to Iraq, and also the reason that Combat Outpost Ellis became the lynchpin for bringing the Anbar Awakening into the area southwest of Baghdad – and into Baghdad itself.  Their colleagues and friends shared some of their stories with me, and I wish I could do more to bring them to life for you this day.  Captain Palermo inspired the men who served under him, including those that stepped up when he fell to enemy action.  The stories I heard of all these men brought forth smiles, laughter, and some tears.  Specialist Guerrero died in March, and the rest on one dark day in April to a massive IED. 

Lance Corporal Jeremy W. Burris is someone I particularly want to remember this day.  His story, to my mind, exemplifies the special people we are here to remember.  I can’t say I knew him, for I met him only in passing out at Al Qa’im on the Syrian border.  Like most Marines I’ve met, he was full of – life. 

He was one of a small horde of Marines to whom I was introduced in a blur of faces and names.  He went out on a patrol, one on which I wanted to go on but couldn’t.  While out, his vehicle was hit by an IED.  Like any good Marine, he responded and got his buddies out to safety.  There, he treated them for their injuries.  Realizing that there were items in the vehicle that would make his brothers more comfortable and otherwise help, he went back.  It was then that the second IED was detonated. 

Afterwards, I learned more about him, those things I did not get a chance to learn from him. He had a love of music, an appreciation of the opposite sex, drive, and energy.  He was in many ways, a very typical young man, who very atypically volunteered to serve his country in time of war.  He, like all who currently serve, knew what they were doing, knew the risks, and still stepped forward and chose to join.  I think of him often, and am glad I can share that very small bit of him I have learned with you this day. 

Today is a day of remembrance.  It is a day to honor those that paid the ultimate price for our freedom.  It is a day to give most profound thanks to whatever God you worship, that such have walked and do walk among us and, stepped up to the call. 

They are our parents, our children, our husbands, our wives, our friends.  They fight for us this day, as generations before did for them.  Next year, we will have more to remember, but we should not remember in sorrow, but with pride, thanks, and appreciation for them and for their sacrifice.  One they have chosen to make, by knowingly volunteering in time of war, and we should do nothing to belittle that choice and the costly gift they have willingly laid on the altar of freedom.

No, this is not a day of sales, vacations, and parties.  That said, in my far to brief journeys with them, I have met none that would find it wrong to be remembered in the happy setting of a barbecue or cook out.  In fact, many of them would appreciate it, for they would know that you have the freedom to choose what to eat, when to eat, and to live your lives with liberty because of them and their sacrifice.  So, eat a bite of good food for them, and raise a toast to them with your libation of choice. 

Let us remember them, and give thanks for them, this day.



NRA Life of Duty: Memorial Day Tribute - Remembering the Men of the Gambier Bay

Below is the NRA Life of Duty's Memorial Day Tribute featuring Norman St. Germain – Seaman First Class, USS Gambier Bay who spent 47 hours in the shark-infested waters of Leyte Gulf after his ship was sunk during WWII.

Replay: "Angel Flight" by Radney Foster

All I ever wanted to do was fly
Leave this world and live in the sky
I left the C130 out of Fort Worth town
I go up some days I don't wanna come down

Well I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home

I love my family and I love this land
But tonight this flight's for another man
We do what we do because we heard the call
Some gave a little, but he gave it all

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Come on brother you're with me tonight
(Come on brother you're with me tonight)
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home

Well the cockpit's quiet and the stars are bright.
Feels kinda like church in here tonight
It don't matter where we touch down
On the Angel Flight its sacred ground

I fly that plane called the Angel Flight
Gotta hero riding with us tonight
Between Heaven and earth you're never alone
On the Angel Flight
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home
Come on brother I'm taking you home

Ensuring Our Future By the Sacrifice of Their Tomorrows

On Memorial Day, ten years ago, my friend, Major Mathew Schram, counter-attacked sixteen Iraqi insurgents who tried to kill everyone in Major Schram’s convoy.  Mat rushed up into the ambushers, fighting back and calling for help.
Mat died fighting, but not before he did what he set out to do – disrupt the ambush and save his soldiers.

RIP MAJ Schram
Mat always did everything the right way.  As a brother-in-arms and a competitive peer, I wanted to hate that about him.  But after getting to know Mat, you couldn’t help but like him. 

Everyone did.
Mat would never let anyone down. On the last day of his life, he saved everyone but himself.  While shocked and sorrowful at the news of his death, not one of Mat’s friends were surprised that, even in dying, Mat succeeded.

Memories of a soldier
On this Memorial Day, nine years later, while it’s true that I’ll be surrounded by many who won’t appreciate Mat’s sacrifice, there are those that do.  Gold Star families - the parents and families of those who gave all also sacrificed for our country in a tremendous way. To lose a son or daughter, a mother or father, a sister or brother, is a loss so great that no words exist to ease the grief and anguish they feel. To all the Gold Star parents, spouses, and family members “May God Bless You!”
Thinking about Mat Schram, I know that he would have been a great husband and father.  Every day, I know that he would have been a better father than me.  And most days, I try to live up to his sacrifice.

Mat Schram Funeral in Iraq
On Memorial Day, when not grilling bratwurst or watching a parade, I’ll be making my daughter laugh with my antics on horseback and I’ll be encouraging my son at his swim meet.  Being a good “daddy” is the best way that I know to honor all of my friends who’ve given their lives in our defense.  That’s the best way to honor the sacrifice of so many for our freedom – ensuring that our future is worthy of the sacrifice of their tomorrows.

I know that’s what my friend Mat would have wanted me to do.

I miss him.


For Me, It Is About The Barbecue....

I have been seeing alot written here and on Facebook about how this weekend is not the annual rite of passage to honor your new found love of charcoal and smoked foods.

All of my brothers here have done a marvelous job of telling the story of Memorial Day and how it means different things to us and to others, but to me, it IS about the barbecue.

Is there anyone here that wouldn't want to have a barbecue where Basil Plumley, John Basilone, Gary Gordon, Randy Shugart, Hal Moore, Matt Ridgeway, James Stockdale or Michael Murphy all showed up?  All of them would make a "who's who" list of men I would be honored to sit around my firepit and pass out cheeseburgers and ribs off of my grill to in those red drive thru baskets you can still get at old school burger joints as we share cheap cold beer and ask who brought the POG wearing the "HALO" T-Shirt.  Later on over mouthfuls of Mrs. Deebow's pretzel rolls that I am using for sliders and the last of the bleu cheese potato salad, we could spend our time trying not to choke as we tell one hilarious war story after another; all starting with the phrase "and there we were...."

Then, after the sun went down, and we sat quietly around a fire as warriors are apt to do with their cigars and their libations; we would toast our lost comrades and commiserate on what would have been, had it not been for that fateful day; and we would do as General Patton said.  We would thank God that men of their character had lived at all.  I would feel even more blessed that those men made the choice of a life spent defending something they felt deeply about.

I can think of no better way to honor men like SGM Basil Plumley, Manila John Basilone, MSG Gary Gordon, MSG Randy Shugart, Col. Hal Moore, Gen. Matt Ridgeway, Adm. James Stockdale or Lt. Michael Murphy, Sergeant Earl Werner, Maj. Larry Bauguess,  Sergeant Bernard Deghand and the countless many more names just like them who now stand eternal guard in the gardens of stone around the world than to drink, eat, make merry and live the freedom that they have worked so hard to give me.

I toast my freedom in your honor and I live everyday attempting to suck the very marrow out of the freedom for which you have paid so dearly.  Thank you sirs; although saying that just seems as if it isn't enough.

But thank you just the same.

I drive your truck

Most of you know the name Jared Monti, he was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan. This weekend we remember him, and far too many others. And we share the pain of the families who have to bear the true meaning if this "holiday" in their hearts.

 Lee Habeeb talks about hearing Jared's Dad on the radio.

Then came the part of the interview that hit me hardest: It was the moment when Paul Monti talked about his son’s truck, and why he still has it, and still drives it.

“What can I tell you? It’s him,” Jared’s father explained, nearly choking on his words. “It’s got his DNA all over it. I love driving it because it reminds me of him, though I don’t need the truck to remind me of him. I think about him every hour of every day.”

I was already tearing up before that story about Jared’s truck. But as the details piled up — the truck was a Dodge 4X4 Ram 1500 with decals on it that included the 10th Mountain Division, the 82nd Airborne Division, an American flag, and a Go Army sticker — I lost it.

And there I was sitting in my car in a Walmart parking lot on a sunny Memorial Day in my hometown crying hard. Crying like a child. Crying as if I’d lost my child.

A talented songwriter give a small taste of the bitter sorrow the loss of a loved one brings. Not surprisingly, it ends up as a country song that will stop you and have you crying along with those folks. So grieve with them for a few minutes and then remember Paul Monti and all the rest who gave their lives for this great land. Enjoy the freedom they bought so dearly.

Words to Ponder on Memorial Day Weekend

In lieu of the labored essay I intended to post for this weekend, I instead post the words of a facebook post from a gentlemen named Tom McCuin

Dear USA,
Monday is Memorial Day. It is the day we honor our war dead, those warriors who gave what Lincoln called, "the last full measure of devotion." Enjoy your barbecues, your mattress sales, and your community pool openings, but remember you do so because those honored dead made it possible. Please do not offer your thanks to me or any other living veteran. It is not our day. We came home carrying our shields; they came home carried on theirs. Memorial Day the day we raise our glasses to absent comrades. Thank me and my living brothers-in-arms (and sisters, too) on Tuesday. But on Monday, turn your thoughts to the gardens of stone around the globe. See you at Section 60.
Simple. To the point. Well done.
Requiescat In Pace, Fallen Warriors.