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November 2013

Photo: In the Arms of the Air Force - Combat Talon crews help Filipino Familes

Hires_131121-N-NI474-309cU.S. Air Force personnel help families in Ormoc affected by Typhoon Haiyan exit an MC-130 Combat Talon aircraft during Operation Damayan after transport to Manila, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young



Families displaced by Typhoon Haiyan board an MC-130 Combat Talon II assigned to the 1st Special Operation Squadron during Operation Damayan in Ormoc, Philippines, Nov. 21, 2013. The Philippine government is closely coordinating ongoing relief efforts including search and rescue, supply drops and personnel airlifts, with military and civilian organizations. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young

Book Review - "The First Phone Call From Heaven" by Mitch Albom

The following 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.

9780062294371_p0_v17_s260x420Sports personality Mitch Albom’s latest book, The First Phone Call From Heaven, is a great holiday novel.  He will touch the reader with this spiritual storyline.  Anyone who has lost a loved one will understand how there is always the longing for a way to talk to those who have died, to have a link with the afterlife.  In this case the link is provided by the telephone as Albom weaves the plot with the history of the phone.

The plot has a small town on Lake Michigan gaining notoriety when its citizens receive phone calls from their loved ones who have died.  The mystery is whether this is the great miracle or a hoax.  Sully Harding has to face adversity in his personal life, with the loss of his wife, and in his professional life, when he is found guilty of crashing his Air Force jet; even though it was not his fault. He is the skeptic that tries to prove that Heaven is not reaching out and that someone is playing with people’s emotions. 

The main characters are well developed, likable, and sympathetic. Katherine receives phone calls from her dead sister, Diane; Tess from her mother Ruth; Jack and Dorene from their son Robbie who died in combat. The reader journeys with these people as Albom skillfully shows how they react differently when they hear their loved ones’ voices.  They range in emotion from gratefulness, believing that they are no longer alone to the desire to have the dead stay dead as explained in the book quote, “It wasn’t making me happy.  It just made me miss him more.”

His first spiritual book was Tuesdays with Morrie, which chronicles the time spent with his former college professor, Morrie Schwartz, who was dying from ALS. “The conversations with Morrie changed my whole life as I became exposed to a lot of suffering.  Now, six years later I chose to write another book on spirituality where I hope the readers would see the miracle, ‘that the end is not necessarily the end.’ What the book shows is that people have souls so when they die they are not just gone.”

One of the characters was Robbie, a soldier killed in Iraq.  A powerful quote from the book has Robbie telling his dad, “There’s no bad days here… It’s awesome…if we knew what comes next, we never would have worried.” Albom hopes that military families will take a little comfort in these scenes since “they must always face the specter of death; it’s always around. Maybe a loved one can believe somewhere the person lost is alive.”

It will not be lost on the reader that Albom puts emphasis on the preciousness of the human voice and the desire to hear their loved ones speak.  He explained to blackfive.net, “I thought it would be a great contrast to how people use the phone today, avoiding all human contact, particularly with texts.”

The First Phone Call From Heaven is a very powerful read for those that want to believe that “the end is not the end.”  Anyone who lost someone will take comfort in the faith that there is a possibility that someday they will be able to continue hearing from a loved one.

My Son's War?

Maybe it is bumper sticker buying time.  That "Endless War" bumper sticker is starting to make a tiny bit of sense. 

It appears that our feckless leader's continued leadership from behind has resulted in the crafting of an agreement that was reached today that would obligate us to the first part of our own Hundred Years War in the mountains of Southwest Asia.

For that foothold in this volatile mountain region wedged between Pakistan and Iran, the United States would agree to sustain and equip Afghanistan's large security force, which the government in Kabul currently cannot afford. The deal, according to the text, would take effect on Jan. 1, 2015 and “shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond.”

Please, everyone stand clear at least 25 meters because I don't want to hurt anyone while I am jumping for joy.....  And forgive me if my sarcasm is about to get up off its' beach lounger, set down its' Jack and Coke and get back in the game.

Continue reading "My Son's War?" »

Spiritual Warfare and Other Support - Abigail Kay

Via the irrepressible Shelle at Military Ovation:
HELLO ITTY BITTY PRECIOUS BABY!!! With the permission of milfamily Nathan and Christina, we are proceeding with generating as much support for Abigail as possible. Christina says,
"On Tuesday, Nov. 5th our precious Abigail Kay arrived weighing 1lb.14oz. Abigail was delivered early due to restricted blood flow through the umbilical cord. She is beautiful, strong, and very feisty (like her dad). Abigail is already eating and off of the ventilator receiving only 23% oxygen. She squirms at the sound of her big brothers and peeks her eyes open only for her daddy. We have a very long journey ahead but we are ready and are taking it day by day. Your prayers, kind words, and thoughts are very much appreciated and we are very blessed that Abigail has an amazing support team."
We encourage everyone to pray for this family. If you would like to send them a special note, gift card or a gift for Abigail, we are hosting a virtual baby shower to help and support this family--- we hope you also can join us.
Send your support to: Military Ovation/547 S. 7th Street #241/Bismarck, ND 58504 and we will deliver your awesomeness to them. (Checks can be made out to Nathan and Christina.)

Sez me: Thank you all for your help!  

Book Review and FlashBack - "The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal Leader"

The following 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 link on the far right side bar.  You longtime readers will remember the photo inserted in the book review.

9780062208330_p0_v11_s260x420Jason Redman’s story of his struggles, failures, and ultimate successes is conveyed powerfully in his book, The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy Seal Leader. This book is not just another heroic SEAL war story, but is an in depth description how this SEAL was at war with himself.  The reader is able to go on a journey with him as he searches for a balance between arrogance and humility. 

The first half of the book shows him as someone bitter, immature, and egotistical, a SEAL with a bad attitude.  Yet, in the latter half his growth as a person becomes evident as he displays the leadership characteristics of humbleness, sacrifice, confidence, a good listener, and someone who can be respected.  Redman told blackfive.net, “I took a very different approach in writing this book. I wanted to show how I messed up, learned from it, and became successful from it.  Reality is that we all make mistakes and have to overcome adversity, which was my sheer purpose for writing this book.  Depending on when the guys served with me, they would describe me differently.  When I was younger they called me arrogant, a jerk.  Those guys who knew me at the end of my career described me as squared away and someone who contributed to the SEAL community.  Those who knew me my entire career would say here is someone with a rocky beginning, with a lot of potential, and excelled in the end.”

It becomes obvious that he is one of the lucky ones since Redman had many second chances.  Instead of being booted out, he was sent to Ranger school to find humility.  It was during his time there that the light bulb went on and he decided not to hide behind excuses anymore.  He came to grips with controlling his characteristic weakness of being tactless and undiplomatic.  A powerful scene in the book shows his growth as a person, after being deployed to Iraq he performed well under fire and led through example.  His other second chance came after being critically wounded by insurgents in 2007 while leading a mission.  He suffered severe injuries to the left side of his face including his eye, nose, and cheekbone. 

After approximately forty surgeries he noted, “the combination of your personality and the life that you know totally changes.  Your life revolves around surgeries, recovery, preop, postop, and the invisible wounds of war.  I firmly believe I had a second chance.  I had the luxury of facing death and coming back.  With the help of my exceptional wife I was able to reflect on my life and decide how I would live it.” This attitude is conveyed through the sign he wrote that was placed on the hospital door, which read in part:

 “Attention to all who enter here:

If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere.  The wounds I received I got in a job I love, doing it for people I love, done for the country I love…This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth…"


This sign now hangs in the wounded warrior ward at Walter Reed. 

He also founded Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization, (https://woundedwear.org/jason_redman) to help the wounded warrior wear clothes with positive slogans. “It came about out of anger with people staring at me.  I wanted something to show that we sacrificed for Americans by having to endure these wounds of war.  I hope the power of that clothing given to my fellow wounded warriors will provide them with pride, power, and purpose.”

There is also a powerful tribute at the beginning of the book to his eighty-six Naval Special Warfare brothers who paid the ultimate sacrifice.  These are the best and the brightest and the reader gets a stark reality that there are names to go with the body counts. 

The Trident is an uplifting, thrilling, and inspiring book.  It shows that someone should never give up on oneself no matter how bad it gets, and that the worst enemy is reflected in the mirror.  Jason Redman does a superb job of detailing his flaws with no punches barred.  This book is about love, leadership, and a journey from adversity to humility.

Photo: Hosers

Hires_131107-M-TP573-091cU.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpls. Jeffrey Headlee, left, and Grant Gray use a hose during firefighting training on Forward Operating Base Shukvani in Afghanistan's Helmand province, Nov. 7, 2013. Headlee and Gray, aircraft rescue and firefighting specialists, are assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 372, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Air Wing. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Mast

Veterans Day Doucheasaurus

I do not require that anyone support the troops, or respect them or even agree that they are brave and selfless defenders of freedom and liberty. That is kinda the deal with this whole Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights: They are all about saying "You can't make me do that",  except for the whole taxes thing. Over all you don't have to give a rat's ass about the troops if you don't want to.

But if you want to write a pitiful little screed on Veterans Day about how all this support for the troops makes you ill, then you have to be prepared for a little blowback. And if you make statements as stunningly dense and incandescently stupid as the following, well, you are gonna get mocked and mertilized verbally.

"The “freedoms” most Americans think of when they hear the term are enshrined in constitutional and statutory law. They are in no way dependent on the size, scope or even the existence of the U.S. military. If John Lennon’s ghost assumed dictatorial control of the U.S. government tomorrow and, as his first order of business, disbanded the entire military, Americans’ “freedoms” would not suddenly vanish."

First let me grant that there is a tiny little kernel of truth in that streaming pile of excremental ignorance. John Lennon's ghost would be unlikely to do much damage to our freedoms: now a Yoko Ono regime scares the crap out of me. But.....the idea that our freedoms are not and vouchsafed by our military is kinda dumb, devastatingly dumb actually. And the dismal failure to remember and recognize that the only reason those freedoms ever came to fruition was when in the course of human events better men than Justin Douche-little took up arms and won them in battle.It was called the Revolutionary War not the Revolutonary Sit In or Occupy Bunker Hill. Well actually it was occupy Bunker Hill, but that was by some brave soldiers not by a bunchg of dirty, nasty, patchouli-smelling hippies.

That is right, Our freedoms sprung forth directly from the use of a musket by an American soldier. They were scribbled down using a quill and parchment, and they were composed in the minds of a mixed set of soldiers and civilians. But absent the soldiers, there would have been a unrealized Declaration stained crimson with the blood of those civilians. And we would have remained vassals of the British crown. Those pesky soldiers rose up again and again whenever evil reared its ugly head. They ended slavery and reunited the country, they bailed the Brits and French out in WWI. Then when the Japanese and Germans decided a little global tyranny might be fun in the 30s and 40s they beat that assault on freedom down wickedly. Heck the fact that Justin's piece is in English is a tribute to their valor.

I would love to read Justin's piece on the pathetic obeisance paid to the Mullahocracy in Iran as published in the Teheran Times. I really would, but I don't think Justin has the stones to write that, or to pay the inevitable price when the whip comes down. Or his takedown of the cult of personality surrounding Vlad "The Impaler" Putin in Pravda. That kind of truthiness will get you a beatdown and a cell next to the Pussy Riot chickies. Nope, Justin sits smugly growing his hipster douchebag beard, drinking organic, shade grown espresso and smoking America Spirit cigs safe and warm like the spineless little pissant that he is.

You don't have to thank anyone for your freedoms Justin and you can squeak out all the sad, sorry, embarrassingly-constructed, reasonless, painfully poor prose that you want. I will thank the military on your behalf and thank you for providing some extremely light work giving you the virtual knee to the gnads you so desperately asked for and deserve. The fact that this ass-whipping was done with words and not a cat-of-nine tails is courtesy of the United States military past and present. Feel free to retain your blissful ignorance as to the irony you have entertained us all by providing. JACKASS!!!