The American Legion

Convention Kickoff- UPDATE 7 (Along with Greyhawk and MOTHAX)

 Rep Boehner (R-OH) addressing the Legion 2010Cdr Hill, Sec'y Gates, Mr Stein UPDATE 7:  Coming up is Rep Boehner (R-Ohio) who will be addressing the Legion.  His remarks are highly anticipated, as he'll be addressing what the Prez is supposed to be talking about tonight.  We have advance comments (see Greyhawk/Mudville Gazette here) and I'll have reactions by the crowd and any 'deviations' from his prepared comments at that time.

I want him to name names, as he does on his personal website.  Decorum.  Bah.

1335 local time- He's up now- will be listening and capturing his comments after.  Oh, and before I forget- Sen Feingold (D-WI) was up just as we went to lunch.  'Tepid' would be a generous description of his reception.

So far, he's following the script verbatim...  so much so they put up a teleprompter just for his appearance.

Right down the script.  But I do hope they are carried across the nation....good applause, and frequently too.  Better than Feingold's for certain.

* Of particular note- including the Ft Hood attack in a string of 'terrorist attacks' on US soil.  Something the administration, as well as DoD, has not done. 

UPDATE 6:  Wow- what a day.  Now we have Sec'y Shinseki, Dept. of Veterans Affairs.  He was a keynote speaker at the convention last year as well.  Paraphrasing comments below:

-DVA relationship with AL has never been stronger, or more important

-Going to tell us what was accomplished, not so much where headed in next year [a farewell? -Mr]

-Congress and Mr. Obama has increased funding, appropriately.

-In 2009, we had enhanced budget of 98 billion.  Then started making a new framework for change to enhance access to benefits and services.

-The 2010 budget grew to 114 billion, one of the largest year-to-year increases in over 30 years.  2011 will give us 125 billion, an incredible increase even over the 2010 record increase. 

-To accomplish what we need, we the DVA MUST be the, THE advocate for veterans and transform and fix problems that have plagued the department for decades.  A sense of urgency to 'match the presidents commitment' is required to do this.  New processes, new procedures that transform the agency. 

-328,000 veterans are using the GI Bill and getting their education under the bill. 

**See Greyhawk's capture of the new PTSD rules- these are a key change in the DVA definition of them.  I think this will be one of the largest effects on the DVA than just about anything they face in the future.

-145m budget to break the backlog of cases via technology.  This is one of the larger efforts- break this backlog we will

-One in six of American homeless are a veteran.  One emphasis of the remaining time I have is to ELIMINATE [his emphasis] veteran homelessness in the next 5 years.

-40m granted to fund new state and national cemeteries across the nation.  Total budget for the increase is 89m dollars.

UPDATE 5:  Gates is up now.  He's a bit more soft-spoken in person than his predecessor, that's for sure. Greyhawk is posting up comments as well- check there for more.

''Built on a swamp, still a swamp'' as he describes D.C.

He's an Eagle Scout (like Marines, no 'former' or ex-Eagle Scouts; I'm also one), strong supporter of Scouting, and is describing how important the Legion is to both Scouting and the military.  

He's describing how the Legion helps those injured in time of duty- the example of a post in Florida who jumped in and helped re-vamp an injured soldiers home.  Also describing an Army Captain who, after only a year in rehab after losing his left leg and right foot in AFG, rejoined the fight and patrolling after passing pre-deployment physical fitness tests. 
He's going on to describe the challenges facing us today- and why we need to face them.  Effective tomorrow, he says, Iraqi Freedom becomes Operation New Dawn.  Surprisingly, he describes the 'gains achieved in the last 3 1/2 years'.  Read into that what you will.  Says al Queda in Iraq has been 'cut off from its masters abroad'.  It has been beaten but is not gone- reflect with pride what our troops and their Iraqi partners have done.  We'll continue to support the Iraqi forces as they transition and train. 

All of this has ''been purchased at a terrible cost'' in the blood, sweat, and tears of American servicemembers, and the terrible cost to the Iraqi people. 

He is stumbling on some words now, as if his emotions in describing what our servicemembers have done is very difficult. He appears to truly care about his words. 

He describes the total commitment in troops in AFG to include 150k plus 45k from our allies.  This is quite a few- remember, just a few short years ago we were at 18k in country.  Most of which were SOCOM.

We will be enforcing a hard line against corruption in the AFG gov't in order to build trust in their gov't again and build self-reliance.  He states the drawdown next year will be gradual, and not a 'turn off the lights' movement next summer.  States further that 'the Taliban will be surprised to find we are still very much in the fight'' in AFG. 

The Taliban are a 'cruel and ruthless adversary', mentioning what they do to civilians.  Over 150 Taliban commanders have been captured or killed in just the last 3 months.  A tough, hard campaign, with rising casualties indicative of what we faced in Iraq.  3 1/2 years ago, many doubted and did not believe in our course in Iraq (talk to your boss, Mr. Sec'y?).  But it is certainly worth the fight. 

''We made the mistake of abandoning AFG 20 yrs ago when we pulled out and left the AFG to the Soviets.''  This is a surprising quote.  Listing other countries around the world- ''we were dead wrong'' in those strategies of leaving them alone.  Another strong statement that is surprising. 

I am going to get the transcript of this for posting later- he's made some key statement, and I'm not able to type fast enough to keep up.  I'll be sure to key in on them...

UPDATE 4:  4Troops is back on- I mean it- go listen.  They are singing a medley of patriotic faves that will send chills up your spine.  This place is on its feet and crazy- and that's something for a bunch of older-types.  If you want live coverage views- go here. 

UPDATE 3:  Joining Mr Stein onstage is Sec'y Gates, who has just arrived.  They, along with National Commander Clarence Hill, are awarding the Spirit of Service Awards to representatives of each of the services.  More on the recipients and what the award is after they post it on the Legion site.  Suffice to say, it's a VERY prestigious award to receive, especially when it's handed by the SecDef.

UPDATE 2:   Ben Stein has just opened the convention.  He still looks the same as ever.  He was really nice to meet, VERY gracious, and most certainly a true patriot.  More from him when I get the opportunity.

UPDATE 1:  4Troops is singing- if you've not heard of these guys, you should take time to go listen.  They can be found HERE.  Some pipes on these folks, let me tell you.  

Sitting here in the convention hall in Milwaukee with Greyhawk and MOTHAX covering the National Convention.  This year, they've put us out on the 'floor' among the delegates; we're at a sort of 'press table' like we're some legitimate entity or something.  Is this the bloggers arrival among the Ben Stein opens the convention- ''Wheeler? Wheeler? Wheeler?"Backstage at Legion...MSM?

It's a good 8,000 chairs in the main hall, filling quickly, and MOTHAX is boogieing to the polka playing.  Feels like I'm stuck in an elevator... or a bad mall store. Be sure to check in over at BurnPit as well- I'll post updates there as well.  Greyhawk will have commentary, and I'm betting he gets a fantastic interview or three as well.  So check his.  Me?  I'm going for Ben Stein...


Huge week at Legion Convention (Updated)

Milwaukee Town Hall Just a quick 'tease' on what's coming up this week while I'm at the convention.  My second year covering it, and there are quite a few good interviews lined up.  I'm also guest- blogging over at BurnPit at times as well.

For example- Ben Stein will be the MC for the convention; I will be chatting with him later on what he feels veterans should be concentrating on.  He's a huge supporter, and hope to get him in a BlackFive t-shirt.  Or quoting UJ 'Don't be a DouChe'. 

First up this week will be Defense Sec'y Robert Gates; I hope to ask him questions on next steps in Iraq, and whether there are other 'hot spots' we may concentrate on now that Iraq has drawn down.

My big hope for the week is to get time with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who will be addressing the convention this year.  Yeah.  Me too.

From the Legion website:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also headline the list of guest speakers addressing the Legionnaires during the three-day event. Actor and economist Ben Stein will serve as master of ceremonies the first day.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is expected to deliver a major speech in Milwaukee Tuesday on Iraq and national security issues to delegates to the 92nd American Legion National Convention

Other guest speakers at the Legion's convention include Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley; Sen. Russell Feingold, D-Wis.; Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif.; and Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind.

If you have questions you think I should ask, just put them in the comments.  I'll be sure to bring them up when I get in front of the VIP's.

Oh, and the Legion is getting ready to release a radio program next month- with two fantastic people running the program and working with guest speakers.  Going to be a great show!  I'll have more, and interviews, later...


Legacy Ride- we reach Milwaukee!

Main floor for the Legion Convention in Milwaukee. 10,000 members will attend We finally reached Milwaukee!  1400+ miles later, gorgeous weather the last 2 days, and a police escort you wouldn't believe, and we're at Legion Post 537 for the conclusion of the ride. 

We left Stevens Point, WI at our usual 8am kickstands-up hour, and had a very leisurely ride into Milwaukee.  The weather was about 72 degrees when we arrived; a far cry from the 90's when we left Indiana.  It was very brisk in the morning- I actually had to get out the fleece jacket I brought just in case Minnesota got cold enough.  It sure enough did. 

When we hit the outskirts of Milwaukee, we paused at a Harley Davidson dealership for about 15 minutes while the constabulary set up road blocks ahead.  By the time we re-entered highway 94 heading into Milwaukee, there wasn't a car on our side of the road.  Every car was held back while officers from 8 different districts escorted us to the Milwaukee Legion post.  No trucks, no idiot lane-changers, no merge horrors.  Just wide-open, clear freeway ahead for about 20 miles.  And cops at every interchange.  Suppose this is how PBO feels on his way to a speech?  This stretch of freeway was cleared to both announce the 'arrival' of the Legion for Convention Week, but also to keep the riders safe thru some difficult stretches where we could have been separated and lost. 

At the conclusion of the ride, another lunch was held, and we then went our separate ways to hotels.  I'm currently holed up in the Hilton in downtown Milwaukee.  At this point, I'm impressed with the riverfront downtown.  But, I do notice that traffic is nearly non-existent, even on a Friday afternoon. 

I'm also guest-blogging over at Burnpit, where Mothax keeps info for the Legion.  I'll be linking back to my posts there as the convention goes along.  There are several really good surprises going on this week- so stay tuned as I look in on the largest veterans-advocacy group in the nation.  Oh, and I cannot forget to mention our really good friend Greyhawk from Mudville Gazette will be along as well- Mothax, Grey and I linked up yesterday and I'm looking forward to catching up and furthering and growing our world media empire. 

Also, be sure to check out the videos and pics over at the Legion Riders site- they've put together some amazing footage.  Too bad those guys had to ride around in a cage during the ride- if that were me, I'd be jonesing for a bike in a bad way.

Ride Notes-

    -One of the riders along with us I called 'Bungee'.  This rider, who shall remain nameless, had some issues with throttle control.  He could not maintain position in the formation- he was either running up, or dropping back, out of position.  He just could not ride with someone at his 4-o'clock.  Back and forth. Back and forth.  Luckily, we got used to it and gave him some more room.  Somebody said he was a former helo pilot and flew exactly like that...

    -I had a chance to meet the REAL 'Mr Wolf'.  WO1 Wolf, to be exact, of the Iowa National Guard.  See, for those who don't know it, Warrant Officers can be addressed as 'Mr.' in the military.  Especially WO1 rank, as they've not yet acheived 'Chief Warrant' status and don't get called 'Chief'.  Nice guy, too.

Mr. Wolf meets... ''Mr. Wolf''

    -Be sure to hover over the pics for their descriptions- it's easier to tag them that way. 

    -This business, below, could only be found in Missouri.  Yeah, looks just like the kind of place I'd like to eat.  But, which is on the menu, and which is not?  Can you really tell the difference?  And if I have to explain frog gigs...

Yes, they also sold beer and liquor... who would bet otherwise?

    -The road in Wisconsin was like glass most of the way.  Hiway 29 was fantastic- little traffic, very little construction, and the road was like new.  Had it been winding two-lane, it would have been perfect.

    -I mentioned in a previous post about the ceremony with the 5-star Freedom Riders- go look at this video and tell me what you think.  If you can pull away from it.  It's a mandatory viewing- they begin at :50 seconds into it.

    -Remember, EVERY rider in this 400 person group was a veteran.  NO non-veterans rode in the group.  All were also Legionnaires; starting the ALR group in the Legion has brought more new members than any other activity.  I hope you'll consider joining me next year!

Enjoy the pics below!


Downtown Effingham, IL held a fantastic lunch. The town square was packed with bikes

A special Rolling Thunder air cleaner cover...
Yes, he was Navy. Next question...
'Poor man's GPS'. This is how we kept track from one segment to the next. REALLY worked well, and was far safer than electronic ones.
Downtown Albert Lea, MN. Nearly the whole town turned out, and many local dignitaries. This is just before the riders came in...
Downtown Albert Lea, MN. Packed with bikes and bikers. See that aerial ladder? Yeah- a fireman climbed and took pics. Hope to get some.
Boyd, WI Legion hall. These guys were heroes- first non pulled-pork meal in a week!

Legacy Ride Continues... and some corrections

I'm still out on the road following the American Legion Legacy Riders on their trip to Milwaukee.  Due to some 'technical difficulties' (read: no internet) in the hinterlands of Minnesota, I've not been able to post the last segments, so I'll take up here and catch up.

ALR rider's bikes CAM_0143
As I posted before (here and here) the ALR is riding to collect for an education fund for the sons and daughters of the fallen.  What I incorrectly stated was some of the totals involved- so to correct that, I got some info from the top.  To date, the American Legion, as a whole, has collected over 4.1 million towards the fund goal of 20 million.  They have been giving out money to the families for education, and still have that much remaining so far.  The riders themselves have collected just over 1.2 million, and as of this writing had collected just over 191k on this year's ride.  There is more than that in total for the year, but those will be announced during the upcoming convention.  Either way, it's STILL a VERY impressive bit of work to help the kids.

Now, on to the ride- which is going fantastic.  Our previous day's rides were during hot, humid, disgustingly sweaty days between Indianapolis and Kansas City.  Today's ride started out cold, but then became gorgeous.  The roads thru Minnesota and Wisconsin were ribbons of glass compared to I-70.  Surprising, considering it gets far more winter weather up in these parts.

Iowa National Guardsmen and women greet the riders for lunch at Camp Dodge Yesterday we rode into Camp Dodge, Iowa, home of the Iowa National Guard.  As a former member of the Iowa Guard, I spent time there in Camp Dodge about 20 years ago; I was floored by the changes and upgrades.  FORT DODGE is more like it.  We were warmly welcomed by Legionnaires from Iowa and the Iowa Army National Guard commander.  Former Legion National Commander David Rehbein passed out food to the riders as well. 

A true surprise were some performances by a bagpiper, and a ceremony by the ALR 5 Star Freedom Riders.  I'll put up video of these performances as soon as 'technical difficulties' are fixed- the are CERTAINLY worth the wait- the Freedom Riders ceremony was outstanding and a fitting tribute to the fallen.

 After we finished in Iowa, we headed into Minnesota, and boy what a welcome for veterans was on hand there.  Starting at the state line, every bridge into the state had banners and American flags flying, with people waving and shouting support at the riders.  Our last leg for the day ended in Albert Lea, MN, with the whole town done up.  This was, by far, one of the greatest shows of support we'd experienced so far.  They were thrilled to be able to see so many veterans and riders come into town.  I hope to get pics from the fireman who was a few hundred feet up in the air on a ladder truck, snapping photos of the event.

Minnesotans greet the riders from bridges We woke this morning to unseasonably cold weather, and I'm glad I brought the fleece.  Fleece?  Well hey, we were going thru Minnahsotah, dont'cha know... and I know it can be cold ANY time of the year.  Yeah, that haul paid off.  (And Thursday morning bodes to be even cooler). 

Ride notes:

    -Some of the 'non-American bike' riders made a request to be able to start their bikes before the Harley's do.  Seems they can't tell when their bikes are running after the Harley's kick in...

    -Getting to meet quite a few veterans from all over; most of these guys are in their 60's and 70's; their stories are great, and I'll share a few soon.  They've given quite a bit to the servicemen and women of today; patches from Vietnam, Germany, and other places are everywhere.  Plenty of stories to go with those patches, too.

    -Many of the posts are dwindling due to the ages of the members.  But that doesn't diminish the histories of some of these posts.  One we visited today, Post 326 in Brody, WI, has just such a history.  A former 'bunker' that was also a cheese factory on the site, it's now also a community meeting house with about 70 active members.  A very comfortable place in the heartland of America.  If you really want to see what 'America' is like, just look at places like the legion posts.  You won't find places anything like them in NYC or LA; it's true Americana in a small building.  They are some of the most welcoming places on earth.

    -We were able to tour the Harley Davidson engine and bike factory outside Kansas City.  A first-hand look at how 'the parts equal the price' of the bikes (that's yours, Grim!)  Best.Job.On.Earth.  Now, if they can find a way to squeeze that V-rod engine into a Ultra Glide, I'll take one NOW.  Of note was the fact that in the employee area, not only did they have a huge American flag flying, but the service flags from every service were hanging.  These people are committed to veterans, for certain.  And no, there were no free samples...

    -Logistics: if you REALLY want to understand what it takes to do this ride, just watch the riders go thru a fuel stop.  This, this is where you can see how the military backgrounds of members breeds efficiencies.  Some people have showed up at stops just to see it in action. Here is how it goes:

Advance team briefs the fuel stop 

Riders fuel and get a payment amount. Riders fill own tanks.

Riders pay a 'collector' after pumping; this helps speed up process
An advance team arrives at a pre-determined fuel location, and sets up operation.  4 or so fuel islands are set aside (only certain places will work due to the size of the group; there has to be enough pavement to accommodate all the bikes after they fuel) and riders are queued up in lines; as riders pull up, they open tanks, then pull to a pump.  There, a volunteer attendant hands the pump to the rider (we have to fuel our own bikes) and after filling, calls out the number to a 'writer' standing behind.  That writer calls out the total to a collector; after the rider fills, he rides up to the collector, and pays for his gas.  ALL the pumps for riders are pre-paid; that is, one credit card is run thru all the pumps used and a running total is kept.  This saves a lot of time.  Another neat trick is that if you pump 5.40 of gas, you are charged 6.00.  The 'extra' is used to pay for chase truck fuel and other needs to support the ride.  Using this method, they can fuel all 350+ bikes in usually under 30 minutes.  By the end of the ride, this gets very quick to do.

Tomorrow, we end up with the ride's conclusion in Milwaukee- and the convention.

ALR Legacy Ride: Day One

Photo(3) Ok, just into the hotel from 13 hours on the road, riding from Indianapolis to Higginsville, Missouri.  What.A.Ride.  The American Legion Riders Legacy Ride.

First day jitters are always evident, as everyone seemed to be at the anointed starting place at least an hour earlier than necessary.  Post 64 on the west side serves as the customary location; they didn't disappoint this year either.  Good road breakfast, everything set to line up, and kickstands up at exactly 0800.  Can you tell these guys were in the service?

Now, you may be asking yourself why I'm pimping this ride, and the Legion in general.  Okay- I'll tell you. 

Four Million Dollars.

That's right- Four.  Million. Dollars.

No, that's not my 'writing fee' for this (although, Mothax, I could use it) but what the Legacy ride has generated IN ONLY 5 YEARS.  That's right.  A bunch of motorcycling gearhead veterans, mostly retired, has generated FOUR MILLION since the first ride took place.  Last year was over 680k.  The first night before the ride- over 120k in that one night alone was generated.

What does all this go for?  What is the goal here?

The goal is to raise an endowment based on 10 million in donations.  With that, they will have enough for a fund to run nearly in perpetuity to serve..whom?

This is the good part- this, is what the FOUR MILLION will do- help the sons and daughters of those fallen in the GWOT and their educations.  And those sons and daughters of those who will fall in the years to come.

This is an amazing accomplishment in such a short time.  Many, many Legion halls have a Rider contingent; the primary task for those Riders is to work raising funds thru local rides and events, and bring awareness to their areas.  What better way than do do it doing something you love to do anyway?

Listen, another reason I'm doing this is to raise awareness of service clubs to the those who read B5, and may not know much about them.  I'm talking to all you GWOT vets out there- yeah, at 24 or 25 this don't seem like much, but let me tell you- they need you, WE need you, and it's more fun and family oriented than you'll ever realize (until you join!)  So take a look- even if all you do is ride, on behalf of the Legion, you'll be giving back a ton to your community.  That's all I ask...

Now, some notes on today's ride:

    -Nearly 500 riders took off from Post 64 at 0800 this morning, and hit the road.  EVERY bridge, EVERY town, EVERY location was waiting for us to pass thru or by.  It's incredible the support that America has for its veterans.  On the Ride, you can experience it like no other way.

    -This ride's most notable participant is National Commander Clarence Hill.  For the first time in the 5-year history, the National Commander will ride the ENTIRE ride from Indianapolis to the Convention site.  Given how busy these guys are- that is an incredible feat.  Riding his own bike, too.

    -My sympathies to those in Indiana- your roads suck west of Indianapolis.  I hit some real kidney killers; any lighter a bike and I would've ended up in a ditch.  When we hit Illinois?  Glass.....

    -Missouri drivers hate giving up road to bikers.  Or groups.  They suck in every inch of road like they own it.  Several times line-cutters trying to dive in front of bikers nearly wiped them out.  We do under the speed limit, and we still have to ride deathly cautious at every merge point.  It's truly sad.


    -Effingham, Illinios greeted us for lunch- blocking off the entire downtown to fit all the bikers in order to get into the legion hall.  Gorgeous area, bunting and flags on the buildings. 


    This is what we see when we ride- fertile, green fields nearly ready for harvest; thick, congested rows of corn just waiting for the harvester; the smells of farms along I-70.  Only on a bike, can you take this all into your senses.  Not your air-conditioned 'cages' traipsing up the freeways.  We ride hard, we ride tight, and we ride safe.  But see America we do.I can't wait for the next 4 days.


Now, if I can ever get the proper CABLE for my HD camera, I'll share some better pics and videos.  Yeah, I love technology..

Oh, and the bike- to remind you, I'm riding a 2010 Ultra Glide Classic.  A Sunglow Red color.  It is fantastic.  The power-on-throttle is intoxicating; the stability and smoothness must be ridden to be believed; this is NOT your fathers Harley.  Even after riding all day, I'm feeling really good, minus the sun and heat effects.  I've got tons of room for all my stuff, and the balance is so good I don't even notice I'm loaded.  Tunes, cruise, and power.  I want for nothing else...

Tomorrow, we'll learn about my ride leader.  Yeah, this you gotta see...


Ready to Ride...

Its that time of year again- time for the American Legion National Convention.  This year, it's going to be held in Milwaukee, and when you think of Milwaukee, what do you think of?

Right. Beer.

No, wait.  MOTORCYCLES.  Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  American made, rumbling modes of transportation that make the journey the destination.  This year, I get a chance to partake in the annual Legacy Run from Indianapolis to Milwaukee.  By way of Kansas City.

Photo(6)Kansas City?  WTH?  Well, seeing as how we could be in Milwaukee in just a few hours from Indy, it wouldn't make much of a ride to go directly there from here.

So, we'll be riding via St Louis, KC, Des Moines, Minneapolis, then into Milwaukee.  About 500 of my closest friends will be joining us on the ride, and I'm going to be covering it for my good friend Mothax from the Legion's blog BURNPIT.  And rumor has it another good friend, Greyhawk, will be in the area.

I'll be riding a 2010 HD Electra Glide Classic, provided by IndyWest HD here in Indianapolis.  Terry/Thomas, you guys rock.  Got me in and out of the dealership in style and class aboard a great bike.  Now, can you lower it about 2 inches for me?  This squaty-body which is inseam-disabled is not enjoying trying to foist this thing around parking lots.  BUT, it is a damn good ride.  If you have the means for one, I highly recommend it; it's choice.  

Photo(5) I'm in Indy now, getting ready for the Ride that starts on Sunday.  I arrived yesterday, after traveling from Denver via Chicago.  I have to tell you- travel has changed so much since my days as a consultant.  Some thing I noticed on the trip out:

    -Pajamas seem to be the new norm for travel.  Or, what appears to be pj's.  I half expect coffee cups, slippers and a paper is all you'll need to board a plane.  Does anyone wear any, you know, actual CLOTHES anymore?

    -At age 50 or more, mohawk haircuts cease to be a statement.  To the Dude on the plane who was AT LEAST 52 with the mohawk and chin tizzler- shaved head is far cooler and relevant.  At least get a leather jacket man.

    -Women who show belly, or wear mid-riff t's should not have bellies that flop over their sweats.  On a plane.  Nuff said.

    -American was the airline- had one of the very best take-offs from Denver I've ever experienced, and I've done quite a few.  But to that Attendant on that Denver-Chicago flight- time to retire.  When you refuse to help old ladies with handbags 'cause 'it's not in the union rules' you need to go.  That was the worst line ever uttered by an attendant.

I can't wait to get on the road.  And get to the convention.  I'll be writing, similar to last year, about the guests who show, and what is going on with the nation's largest veteran organization.  While the Ride is going on, I'll try to capture all the towns we go thru- I hear its quite a commotion.  C'mon out and witness it. The links above have our route and approximate times.  I'll be the only one with China Post #1 patches on- and I believe the only from Colorado on the ride.

Paint-side up, rubber-side down.  See you on the road...



The Legion represents

More on the story Matt highlighted below about the two vets who sounded the alarm in Times Square. One is a member of the American Legion as the Burn Pit notes.

Duane Jackson has worked as a vendor, selling pocket books, wallets, watches, scarves and golf clubs, for 13 years at the same spot in Times Square in New York City. He knows when someone has parked a car in a spot where it doesn't belong. So when Jackson saw that situation arise on Saturday, he went to investigate.

American Legion picks up tab for lawyers in Phelps case

Good news for the father of a fallen Marine who had sued the reprehensible Fred Phelps and his Church of the eternal dung beetle. The American Legion has got his back.

UPDATE: Been authorized to pay it out, build a shell for donations, and to help draft the Amicus Brief for the Supreme Court.  So, we are in whole hog.

Imagine one day you find government vehicles waiting in your driveway, and you know why they are there. And this is the worst moment of your life. But, you know your son died doing what he wanted to do, and you are so very, very proud of him.

And as you get ready to lay him to rest, people from halfway across the country protest outside the cemetery, and you think, this is the very worst moment of my life. As if saying goodbye to a cherished son were not horrific enough for one lifetime, zealots with no sense of taste, decorum or class use your private moment of grieving to pass on their belief that your son died because “God Hates Faggots”.

But, you won’t give in without a fight, because your son didn’t either. So you file suit in court, and first you are awarded vast sums of money for the damage that these miscreants had done to you. But, on appeal, the next court sees the situation differently. See, to you it was never about politics, it was about seeing the blood of your blood go to his silent, eternal rest.

But, it’s not enough that you just lose the case, now you find out that you have to pay these same individuals $16,500 in lawyers’ fees. You see, the protestors themselves are lawyers, allegedly committed to seeing truth and justice prevail. But, to you this isn’t as much about the law as it is seeing that no other family has to go through the pain that you did.

Well, not on our damn watch. This man has suffered enough. So we want to make sure he doesn’t pay one red cent, even though someone will have to. So The American Legion is starting a fund to pay this off, and judging from our previous fund raising experiences here, I anticipate getting all the cash we need. I have already received promises of $200, and I haven’t even posted this yet.

Well done Legion.

Damning Evidence on 'Troop Support' Groups

We've seen a few new blogs and sites come up recently that put out some pipe-hittin', hard-chargin' expose's and information on many groups (just go see re: ACORN) and the new Legion blog is working their way there.


The BurnPit, over at, lays it out on those VERY leftist organizations that purport to support us vets, but really do nothing of the sort.  In fact, they RARELY even have true 'vets' involved.  Sickening.  Seventh Son writes writes a blistering piece about a few of our 'fave' groups.  Only a group that has told the President face-to-face ''No'' can pull this kind of piece off and be totally honest in it.

Go read for yourself....




                                    Chinapost1 logo

I'm a bit remiss in getting some good posts up, but given where I've been and up to the past few weeks, I hope you'll forgive.


As many of you may recall, I had been blogging/covering the American Legion national convention in Louisville while traveling back east.  It was a fantastic time, and as a result, I had a chance to meet many key individuals within the Legion.  One of these was the Commander of China Post #1, Shanghai, China.

Those of you familiar with the W.E.B. Griffin stories may recall that several characters and scenarios are based on a 'relationship' with men in this Legion Post.  During my coverage of the convention, I was introduced to the Commander of CP#1, and we struck up a conversation about this historic post.  We also had a chance to delve into parts of my background, and the Commander came to the realization that I was a candidate for CP#1. 

Candidate?  Why would you need to be a 'candidate'?  Well, CP#1 is NOT your conventional post within the Legion.  Its one of the very few without a 'real' building as a post, but not because they can't or don't have one- their post is currently 'occupied' by the Communist Government of China, and they are not about to re-occupy that old headquarters anytime soon.  Hence, why the post is considered 'in exile'.

To become a member of this particular post, YOU MUST have some sort of Special Ops, Intel, or 'letter agency' background.  I'm not about to go into how yours truly fits this (most should realize) but suffice it to say, the Commander immediately pulled out a blue card and 'transferred' me into the CP#1 post.

Oh, and we also 'shanghaied' a certain Blackfive into the post as well.  How this affects his campaign has yet to be ascertained.  He, too, fit the background on several criteria.

Picture 3 004


Picture 3 040

After being 'indoctrinated' into the post, shown the secret handshake, and told whom to see and where to go to find their secret meeting places,  I then went about meeting others within the Legion at various gatherings at the convention; the introductions would go as follows (almost verbatim):

"Hi there!  I'm Mr Wolf and I'm covering the convention."

"Hello Mr Wolf, I'm (insert name/position here).  Which post are you a member of?"

"Um, I belong, now, to China Post #1"

"Oh shit.  Hey, I had nothing to do with that (incident).  Swear it.  Don't hurt me.  What do you need?  I wasn't there.  Did you find witnesses?"

Then, I would meet various commanders or Past National Commanders, and to a man, most would say ''we worry about members of that post.  They have a predilection towards taking over small countries..."  Then they'd go into the latest Griffin book entry.  Which, til now, I was totally unfamiliar with.

So what does all this have to do with this entry?  Well, this...


And you know who you are- GET YOUR DUES AND MEMBERSHIPS BACK UP!  Commander, CP#1, sends.  What do we have to do, come find you?  And you KNOW we can...

See, quite a few joined CP#1 during their 'tours' overseas in order to get access to cheap booze.  Ok, ANY booze, given where most were.  Then, once out of the AO, dropped like it a hot rock.  Now guys, that ain't right.  You signed, you joined, you belong. Come back into the fold now, and all will be forgiven...

Otherwise, those black helos may get re-missioned ... and good luck trying to get back in when you get re-deployed back overseas (and you know you will).

BTW, CP#1 is having its annual reunion in Las Vegas this week- those in-the-know understand where to be and who to see.  Otherwise, contact me and I'll link you up. 

Wolf, out...

CP1 original home