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September 2013

Marine Scout Sniper in Urination Video Speaks Out

For the first time, scout sniper Marine Cpl Rob Richards speaks out about the urination video to the Military Times:

...Richards said he is tired of people asking why he and his fellow Marines urinated on the dead insurgents, and angry with Commandant Gen. Jim Amos and other Marine Corps leaders for allowing the cases to take so long to play out. At the same time, he expressed remorse for causing hardship for others in his battalion, and said he was devastated when the video was released...

Read the whole piece here.

Army SMA: New tattoo rules coming

 Suicides. Sexual harrassment and assault. An ill advised push to put women in combat units/roles. And yet, it appears that THIS is what the Army's Senior NCO Corps thinks is the priority?

Sorry...while the Officer corps deserves the criticism it receives, stuff like this is all, fully, and completely on the Senior NCO leadership.   Who are all these CSMs who think that THIS is even "a" priority, much less "the" priority?

New Rules on Tattoos; New Uniform coming

I'm not a big tattoo proponent; i don't care for them generally. Frankly, I don't get the allure.  But, that all said, I find these tattoo witchhunts tiresome and counterproductive.

Under the new policy, new recruits will not be allowed to have tattoos that show below the elbows and knees or above the neckline, Chandler told troops. Current soldiers may be grandfathered in, but all soldiers will still be barred from having any tattoos that are racist, sexist or extremist.

Once the rules are implemented, soldiers will sit down with their unit leaders and “self identify” each tattoo. Soldiers will be required to pay for the removal of any tattoo that violates the policy, Chandler said.

Face/neck tattoos, yeah i hate them. They serve no worthy purpose and i'm ok with their being banned...but anything under a shirt or trousers, even below the elbow or knee?...really? 

So what if they can be seen in PT gear? Shouldn't PT be about working out, not looking cute?

I love this "self-identify" thing as if it has some noble purpose. Again, in the list of things that NCOs/Soldiers need to focus on, exactly where does this rank?  Sez me? Not very high.

And, because i guess it's time to identify a new era:

On a separate note, Chandler told troops that the new Army combat uniforms will likely be phased in starting eight to nine months from now. The uniform will feature different colors for different environments, but the pattern will be very similar to the mottled “multicam” currently used in Afghanistan under the designation “Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern.”

The uniform will have different coloring for varying environments like jungle and desert, he said, rather than the widely panned “universal” color of the current ACUs.

Actually i have less problem with this, except for the inevitable additional costs this will put on troops. The ACUs have been panned for quite some time and there's probably a need for a new uniform set.  (Insert CSM meritorius service medal joke here).

Yup..peacetime be breakin' out again...i guess we're going to forget how to keep a smaller, lethal Army sharp and instead focus on the garri-trooper nonsense that bureaucrats (in uniform and out) live for.


Book Review: J. L. Witterick's "My Mother's Secret"

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

9780399168543_p0_v1_s260x420J. L. Witterick, a Chinese Canadian whose only ties to Judaism are her close friends has written an inspirational novel, My Mother’s Secret, surrounding the Holocaust.  The story, based on actual historical events, is about love, sacrifice, and courage centered on the dark years of the Holocaust. 

The book describes how Franciszka and her daughter Helena, despite the threat of death, decide to hide and shelter nine people in their small house.  It is based on the 2009 documentary, “The No. 4 Street of Our Lady” where the mother and daughter actually saved half of the Jewish survivors of Sokal, Poland whose original Jewish population were 6,000.

Four different perspectives are presented in the this book: the rescuers, Helena and her mother Franciszka; Bronek, the leader of his family and his sister-in-law, hidden in the pigsty; Mikolai, who with his parents are hidden in a makeshift cellar; and Vilheim, a German soldier defector, hidden in the attic. The secret to their survival is exemplified by the quote in the book, “This is a world where to be insignificant, necessary, or connected are the best ways to survive.”

The author wrote the story after viewing the documentary in the basement of a Canadian synagogue, and knew this story had to be told.  She noted, “I thought about my own background since my family immigrated to Canada from Taiwan with basically nothing.  I grew up with very little and for a while felt like an outsider, not understanding or speaking the language.  I was able to relate to being an outcast. I was inspired and overwhelmed by the incredible courage of this mother and daughter.”

She reduced those saved from the actual number of fifteen to nine, explaining, “I wanted the reader to be able to identify with everyone.  I wanted the readers to really feel for the characters so I had to reduce the number saved.  With that said, the experiences and the incidents of the characters are true.  The major events all happened.  I am hoping that to remember someone will likely allow them to live on forever.”

There are very powerful statements made in the book through the character’s voices.  For example, Helena notes, “Everyone is sorry, but no one is sorry enough.” Witterick commented, “People might feel for you, but are not willing to do anything about it.  Then there are those who take action, like Franciszka and Helena, even with the cost being so high. They risked their lives for people they hardly knew.  They are the ones who were going to help despite the consequences.  I want to believe that most people have some good in them.”

My Mother’s Secret is an uplifting novel about the dark years of the Holocaust.  It shows that hope and humanity does exist and can overpower despair, fear, and horrific butchery.  The book is a must read for anyone that wants to understand the historical context of anti-Semitism during WWII; yet, will be comforted by human kindness and courage.

A Newly Minted American Finds Inspiration - Robert L. Howard, MOH

Dave Feherty, is a golf analyst for CBS Sports and - until recently - an Irish citizen. In 2010, he became a naturalized US citizen and penned the following article regarding at least one of his inspirations.

Among his activities, and why he bears mention here on Blackfive, is that he runs Feherty's Troops First Foundation.  

He is outspoken - he and CBS Sports have had some disagreements about some of his political views - but it is clear he is focused on supporting veterans in his now adopted country.

In June of 2010, he penned an article in "D Magazine" regarding Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient COL (R) Bob Howard.  He was shocked he'd never heard of this true hero, and learned that Bob was on short final.  

I'd not want to spoil it - please just read the essay.  It is very interesting.

Dave Feherty's Essay


Arlington Fly-Over Honors

Preparations are pretty much finalized for the Warrior Aviation Fly-over in honor of USAF Majors James E Sizemore and Howard V Andre at Arlington Cemetery tomorrow at noon. 

My ejection-seat checkout for the L-39 is at 0800 or so. Full Brief at 0900. Walk at 1030, takeoff at 1100. We'll be holding at Nottingham VORTAC (southwest from Andrews). Push time around 1155, Time on Top Arlington 1202. The B-25 will lead the first formation with the P-51 and P-47 on the wings.  The A-26 will fly by solo in trail, which is the aircraft the Majors were flying.  To follow are the L-39s with a missing man pull. Another L-39 will be offset to the west as a photo aircraft.


A-26A TA-646 Sizemore aircraft when shot downA-26A TA-646, the Invader aircraft that Major Sizemore and Major Andre were flying that day.

Major James Elmo Sizemore USAF Nakhon Phanom, Thailand KIA July 8 1969
Major James Elmo Sizemore, USAF

Major Howard V Andre USAF KIA July 8 1969
Major Howard V Andre, USAF

If you are in the DC area tomorrow, weather is supposed to be fantastic, so stop and see if you can see the aluminum sky. We'll be coming in from south of Reagan National, up the Potomac, over the Pentagon. An ideal place to watch would be the Air Force memorial, just to the west of the Pentagon.

Salute to Majors Sizemore and Andre...welcome home, sirs. We've missed you!


To read more about this honor, go back to this post from a few weeks ago.  If anyone would still like to contribute to the fuel fund, just hit the link shown.