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March 2014

Did Flight MH370 Shadow Another Flight?

While the Aussies are closing in on a possible debris field in the Indian Ocean, this theory is from someone we know...interviewed at the Aviationist:

...As we mentioned a few days back, shadowing another plane at cruising altitude along one of the airways usually used by aircraft flying from Asia to Europe was one of the few ways the Malaysia Airlines MH370 could escape detection by ground radar.

The former radar navigator instructor and tactics officer backs this theory.

“When you fly over water or from point to point, pilots are frequently directed to change frequencies, told to turn, climb, descend, you name it. This is all “in the clear” and not privileged communications, anyone with the right radio on the right frequency would hear it. So, this pilot has planned this out to the nth degree and as he’s coming back across the Malay peninsula, he’s looking to fall in behind another airliner and shadow that airplanes flight path.”

The scenario Pernotto describes may sound unlikely (as many others) but not impossible....

Read the whole piece at The Aviationist.  

Big Boys Don't Cry

Confession time:  I've always enjoyed Keith Laumer's Retief/BOLO universe.  My thoughts on Jame Retief versus the (stereo)typical member of the lace panty brigade should come as no surprise.  Bolos struck a chord with me early on (Honor of the Regiment) and the idea of someone (something) striving to do the job no matter what (and the incompetents) with honor and integrity was comforting (particularly in the Carter era). 

For all that, there were some things about that universe that bugged me.  Nevermind that it would take thousands of Retiefs to keep things above water and moving along.  Never mind that the incompetents won way too often and no one ever, EVER, followed up on the example of the heroic BOLO.  There was something more to it that bugged the bleep out of me deep down. 

Thanks to Tom Kratman, I now have a better idea of why that is and you have a great story to go read.  Big Boys Don't Cry is a novella, and for me a quick read -- but keep in mind that I can even polish off something of Weberian size rather quickly. For all that it is a novella, and a good read, it is not necessarily an easy read and Tom gleefully uses a flamethrower (and I imagine was laughing maniacly as he did so) to remove the curtains and expose what has been bugging me about the Bolo universe. 


who reminds you that you still have time to go order the Freehold Signed Limited Edition by Michael Z. Williamson.  Trust me, you want to and you need to. 

Photo - Aerial Sniper Training

Hires_140307-F-LX370-566cArmy Sgt. Chuck Riegel engages a target with a M107 .50-caliber long-range sniper rifle in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter over Malamute drop zone on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, March 7, 2014. Riegel is assigned to the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion Airborne, 501st Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Alaska. U.S. Air Force photo by Justin Connaher

MilBlogger Heads Back to War

Former Paratrooper, now Officer and father, is headed somewhere dangerous.  From Tuesday night:

...Tonight I will be leaving everyone and everything I love and begin another journey to Afghanistan. It's much more difficult to leave this time now that I have a family and have been out of the fight for a few years, but my situation is no different than the vast majority of the other soldiers who are deployed.

Despite the fact that the news rarely brings it up, we are still actively at war in Afghanistan. Men and women are still taking the fight to the enemy every single day. Once I get my platoon, I will be responsible for kids who were as young as 6 or 7 when 9/11 happened. This is not their war, but yet they still chose the honorable route of joining the Army. I will also have soldiers who are on their 4th or 5th deployment. They've embraced the suck time and time again and been through more misery than any civilian could ever imagine or truly appreciate, yet they'll be there willingly fighting side by side with me one more time.

My point is this: The one thing I do not want to hear about my service(and I hate even calling it that) is sympathy. Sympathy is exactly what I received from the cashier at Best Buy last week when I bought my new camera for deployment and she asked what it was for. When I told her, she made a sad face and said "oh I'm so sorry".

All I am asking from anyone who reads this is their prayers. My soldiers and I will need them every day. I'll do what I can to keep this updated while I'm overseas, and if my guys are needing anything important I'll be sure to post it on here.

Thanks in advance to those who still read this despite these past couple years of boredom. Hopefully things will pick up soon.

Keep up with the new LT at Life In the Infantry (although now he's an Armor Officer).

Huge A$$hole, Fred Phelps, Is Dead

First, anyone call the PGR and tell them about this?

Second, news that Fred Phelps has died is lighting up the milblogosphere.  Phelps founded the cult, The Westboro Baptist Church, which protested military funerals and has done irreparable harm to the military families of the Fallen.  They claim to protest these funerals because God is angry with the USA.  But that's not really what they are about.  They are lawyers.  From the US Navy about 9 years ago:


See more at: http://www.blackfive.net/main/2005/08/the_intent_of_f.html

They protest and try to mentally harm those of us who grieve for a Fallen soldier, not because of their religious beliefs, but for MONEY.

This isn't the end of the Westboro Baptist Church cult...but as the joke goes...it's a good start!

I don't think I would protest his funeral, but if I did, this would be my sign:


Book Review - "Kill Fee" by Owen Laukkanen

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.

9781101624777_p0_v1_s260x420Owen Laukkanen is a relative newcomer to the thriller genre.  Kill Fee, the third book of the series, once again reunites FBI special agent Carla Windermere with Minnesota State police investigator Kirk Stevens. Fans of crime thrillers will be reminded of best-selling author John Sandford because the setting and the main character’s career path are the same. However, it becomes abundantly obvious that Laukkanen is able to put his own distinctive imprint on his books. 

The plot begins when Windermere and Stevens witness an assassination, and are unable to apprehend the fleeing murderer. As other targeted killings occur these two law enforcement officers travel throughout the US to find answers and to catch those responsible.  What becomes obvious is that they are always one step behind as they try to put the pieces together including a murder for hire Internet site. They seek to find the person behind turning young war veterans into unemotional killers. Using complete control their handler transforms them into broken human beings who are obedient and lethal. 

Laukkanen told blackfive.net, “I had been reading about how the Internet can be used to help build crime empires.  I expanded that to having a murder site since it is so easy to hide your identity online.  This is one of the issues I dealt with in the book, how these criminals can hide out and avoid detection.  I made sure that the bad guy knew how to steal other people’s IP addresses and then bounce them around to make it difficult to detect.”

The readers can readily identify with very realistic characters. The protagonists share varying degrees of dissatisfaction with their personal lives as they struggle to balance that with their job responsibilities.  The author weaves the various characters actions together in an intense plot.  Even many of the antagonists become sympathetic figures as they struggle with PTSD and to free themselves from the control of this one person who is their lifeline to the world.

In all of his books Laukkanen makes sure to write about societal issues.  After researching the emotional state of many returning combat soldiers he decided to include it as a powerful theme in the book.  He explained, “I used a DOD clearance to keep the antagonist’s identity secret.  I compared this guy who spent his life building bombs to now running a murder for hire.  I had him kidnap and take control of the veterans’ lives where there is this bond between the tortured and the torturer.  After reading about the vulnerabilities of the veterans as they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan I became struck by how let down they are by the government and society.  They are left to deal with their traumas in silence and by themselves since many are uncomfortable to talk about their mental health.”

He also gave a heads up about his next book, which will be about sex trafficking.  Two Romanian sisters are brought to the US in containers, but one escapes.  Windermere and Stevens attempt to find out the people behind this ring.  This plot will also have a struggle between their private and job responsibilities.  Laukkanen has Stevens trying to handle how women are treated as commodities and the evilness of men as his daughter begins the dating scene.

Kill Fee has a very riveting plot that includes mayhem and misdirection.  It has characters that are very well developed and intriguing.  This intense novel is a must read for anyone who enjoys suspenseful thrillers.

You Are Invited!

Come One, Come All! Click for full size

Mission: VALOR has formally incorporated, and we are preparing our 501(c)(3) filing.  We have actually been working to help veterans and other VSOs even before this, and look forward to doing what we can to help even more in the days ahead. 

Meantime, the wonderful folks at The Baroness are hosting a launch party for us from 7-9 pm (1900-2100 hours) on Thursday 27 March.  There will be door prizes, with the grand prize being a lesson on how to use a sword to open a bottle of champagne, and getting to put theory to practice right then.  While the tickets are not (yet) tax deductible, the general tickets ($10 each) include a free beer courtesy of The Baroness, and you can by extra tickets ($5 each or 6 for $20) without the free beer to increase your chances of winning a door prize.  Tickets will be available at the door; you can purchase in advance via Square; if you are in NYC, I will be glad to meet you so you can purchase tickets in advance; and, you can use PayPal via our site.  Remember, these tickets are not (yet) tax deductible, but are going to help us try to fix that and do some good. 

Hope to see you there!


Remembering our heroes: Mize and Guarnere

"A nation reveals itself not only by the the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers..."
- President John F. Kennedy

Last week, America lost two outstanding warriors. Ola L. Mize, veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars and Medal of Honor recipient, and William J. Guarnere, from the legendary "Band of Brothers" unit of World War II.

mizeAlabama native Ola Mize tried repeatedly to enlist in the Army, but at 120 pounds was told he was too small. He also had to trick his way past a vision test as he was also blind in one eye from a childhood accident. Eventually, the Army relented and he served in the 82nd Airborne, re-enlisting once the Korean War broke out.

On June 10, 1953, a battalion-sized force of Chinese troops attacked and overran Mize's outpost. With his company officers dead or wounded, Mize organized a defense, dragged wounded to safety, and formed a patrol to fight the Chinese bunker to bunker - despite having been hit by grenade and artillery blasts multiple times. Fighting for hours - hand-to-hand at times - Mize killed several dozen enemy soldiers with his carbine and many more by calling in American artillery fire. His full citation can be read here.

Mize was one of only eight Americans of the original 56 to survive the attack on the outpost. Initially, he refused the Medal of Honor, but eventually accepted it on behalf of his men.

Following the Korean War, Mize earned his commission and served multiple tours in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group. He later founded the Combat Diver Qualification Course in Key West, Fla. and commanded the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg.

Col. Mize retired in 1981, having earned the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, five Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart. He passed away in his Gadsden, Ala. home on March 12 of lung cancer.

"Wild Bill" guarnere

When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor, William Guarnere dropped out of high school and went to work building Sherman tanks. His job was considered essential to the war effort, which allowed him to stay stateside. But he enlisted in the Army, and trained for the newly formed parachute infantry. He would be assigned to Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, which would be immortalized by historian Stephen Ambrose in the book "Band of Brothers."

Guarnere's oldest brother Harry was killed fighting the Germans at Monte Cassino, Italy, and William couldn't wait to kill every German he could. His fierce fighting earned him the nickname "Wild Bill." Guarnere parachuted into France prior to the D-Day invasion, and was platoon sergeant during a June 6 assault on German artillery at Brecourt Manor featured on "Band of Brothers" miniseries, for which he earned the Silver Star...

More at Unto the Breach