30 September, 2006

Blood Brothers

Update: Book tour info. Latest info.

Don't miss this one...

With great insight and compassion, Award-winning journalist Michael Weisskopf has written on a subject very near and dear to my heart—the amputees of this war. Weisskopf himself lost his dominant hand while embedded with soldiers in Iraq in preparation for the Time magazine 2003 Person of the Year edition. He picked up a grenade that landed in his vehicle and awoke to a whole new life: Ward 57 of Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

But while Weisskopf weaves himself throughout Blood Brothers, he is not the central figure. Instead, he vividly paints the portraits of three fellow-travelers in Ward 57, soldiers who must come to terms with the physical and psychological impacts of losing a limb. In powerful but matter-of-fact, news-like prose, the reader is introduced to Before and After, and taken along for the gut-wrenching journey in between as wounded warriors (along with their loved ones and care-givers) tackle the mountain that is physical and psychological recovery from amputation.

Blood Brothers is the kind of book that will put you through the emotional wringer, but you won't want to put down. You'll laugh when the wounded but fiery Army sergeant and the Marine physical therapist get into a verbal pissing match and cry when you read of heroic medics or the pain of the residents of Ward 57; other times you’ll want to throw something against the wall as you see a need that isn’t addressed or stand up and cheer when a physical milestone is reached.

Though it's largely apolitical, an anti-war reader will see nothing but the darkness and pain in this book. But truth is, it's all there: the horror and the beauty, the heights and the depths, the illusory achievements and the real milestones. Due to a reportorial style that essentially allows them to speak for themselves, the soldiers in Blood Brothers stand on the page in all their glory and humility, strength and weakness. The reader sees the darkest days and the moments of hope, the times when the path to healing is clear, and the times there seems no possible future.

I wish every severely-injured warfighter and those who love him or her could read this book. I would also send it to every volunteer and employee serving in a military hospital or any other person who wants to better understand the challenges and recovery process of those who go to war but are not lucky enough to come back in one piece.

This one's a must-read. Go get it. And it wouldn't hurt to thank Mr. Weisskopf for the service it's going to do to wounded warfighters and those of us who love them, either. John Donovan and I have been in personal contact with Mr. Weisskopf, and for all his journalistic "objectivity," his response upon hearing of Valour-IT tells us where his heart was in writing this book: "I wrote Blood Brothers for the very people your organization helps."


In addendum, a bit about Weisskopf’s part of the story… Weisskopf spends a lot of time in his recovery trying to understand why he picked up the explosive and to balance or regain his "journalistic objectivity." It's not a pretty sight. Watching him lay himself as psychologically open as he does in this book is somewhat painful for the reader, but I must admire his willingness to show us the journey.

I can’t help but wonder if part of his agony over why he did what he did and whether he wanted to hide or display his physical condition came from his knowledge that despite the pride and idealism that guide him as a journalist who wants to have an impact on the world, he knows he’ll never be the hero his fellow travelers in Ward 57 are. He lived and suffered and recovered with them, formed bonds that will last a lifetime. But he’s not one of them. And in some strange way his journalistic idealism almost seems to make him feel guilty for feeling drawn to them, for his pesonal connection. But I suspect it was that very pull and connection that allowed him to write Blood Brothers with such compassion, insight and respect.

A special thank you to Mr. Weisskopf's publisher, who was kind enough to send me a pre-press copy of the book, which will be widely available October 3. I also hope to get a copy of the book tour schedule (October and November) and will post it here.

Update: Excerpt and interview with Weisskopf here. Milblogger reviews of Blood Brothers can be found at A Soldiers' Perspective, Argghhh!, Dadmanly, and Sgt. Hook (there may be more to come).

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29 September, 2006

Part Of the Team

Sgt. Allen is out of the fight for now, due to wounds he received over a year ago in Iraq. But now he's got a "dog" back in the fight and he's working hard to assemble and send care packages full of tactical gear, love and support to his deployed friend. He writes, in part:

I always heard that it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but that it's the size of the fight in the dog. Well that's bull****. Its the size of the shotgun of the dog's owner when he catches somebody ****ing around with his dogs. Point being? Everyone of you who write letters, fill care packages, and stand on corners and support our troops and their mission, you are just as integral a part of that fight as the Soldier that stands 6000 miles from your doorstep. You are that owner, holding that shotgun, and every time you help a Soldier you are putting two in the chest of that Soldier's enemy. So keep your rounds on target and roach stomp them on the reload.

And just in case you haven't found a way to support those troops yet, here's a list of organizations I recommend:

Soldiers' Angels
AnySoldier (Sailor, Marine, Airman)
USO Care Packages
Packages from Home

There's a list of many more on America Supports You. Just pick one. You can at least send a quick card letting them know they're not forgotten--something like, "Thanks for stepping up to serve. We love you and are looking forward to your safe and successful return."

Now go check out those sites!

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I Am Woman...

Cop the Truth points us to SFC Merideth Howard, the oldest female soldier killed in action since the Afghanistan war began. Aged 52, she was serving as a turret gunner when she died.

While at home on leave from Afghanistan in February, she told her husband she wasn't satisfied with her ability to take apart and reassemble her M-16 rifle as per Army regulations. So the couple bought a civilian version for her to use for practice. Within four days she could do it flawlessly - blindfolded.

Do read it all. I'm not crazy about the idea of women in combat, but Merideth Howard obviously had the heart of a warrior and we are all honored by her service.

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25 September, 2006



Those who know, know.

And for certain protective people who may tend toward worrying, remember: I am a lady... and a lioness with very sharp claws... ;)

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23 September, 2006

The FbL Tour

[This will stay on top until next weekend]

I'll be in the Pasadena, CA area next weekend (Sept 22-24). Anybody within driving distance who would like to meet up for coffee or some such thing, drop me a line and let's get together!

I promise not to cry on you, haha!

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21 September, 2006

Just What I Needed

My blogging program creates a time stamp on a post from the time a new window is opened, not when it's actually published. I give you that bit of boring technical info because I want to tell you want I received literally moments after hitting "publish" on the post below (if you haven't yet, please read that post first).

I have been in touch with the mother of Johnathan Benson for about two months now. She is a devout Christian, and her faith continues to sustain her through this heartbreaking time. This morning I was one of only four people to whom she sent the following email:

God still sits on the throne.

Each and every one of us are going through tough times right now, but God is getting ready to bless you in a way that only He can. Keep the faith.

My instructions were to pick four people that I wanted God to bless, and I picked you. Please pass this to at least (4) people you want to be blessed and a copy back to me.

This prayer is powerful, and prayer is one of the best gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of rewards. Let's continue to pray for one another.

The prayer:

Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and those that I care deeply for, who are reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of Your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them Your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through Your grace. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

She left me in tears for the timeliness of her email, and so touched that she thought of me in this way. It doesn't erase all the big and small things I've been dealing with so poorly, but they're laying just a tiny bit lighter on my heart now.

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Whining, In No Particular Order...

[Updates Below]

Warning, this post has no socially redeeming value. Scroll down (quite a bit) for worthwhile reading.

I don't have the emotional energy to make this witty or funny or interesting...

The Dark Dog refuses to be shaken...

Only spent 3 hours at the USO yesterday. Why? Realized I had left my driver's license in my pocket with my debit card after going to the Padres game the night before. This presented a problem because I had an appointment/meeting at the mil-hospital.

So, left early to make the 40-minute drive home to retrieve license, to be followed immediately by the 40 minute drive back on the same freeways to the hospital. Realized I hadn't gotten my parking validated. Returned to USO where stupid woman was blocking the turnout to parking near USO. I tried to squeeze by, but could only go halfway due to angles. Sat and waited for her to pull forward along the road so that I could get in.

The idiot backed up instead. *Crunch*

Me: You hit me!

Idiot: Oh no, I didn't!

I was rattled enough that I took two or three minutes to find my various info to exchange. She berated me for keeping her for "ten minutes" when she had to "deliver Mr.________ to courtesy parking." I retorted that she could leave and we'd make this a hit-and-run. She left.

Good news: I got her license plate. Bad news: I didn't have my driver's license with me and I knew I had barely enough time to get home and then to the milhospital. In other words, I haven't called the police as of this morning. Third accident since I moved here at the very end of June, second hit-and-run.

Barely made it to meeting at the hospital. Found out I will undergo a far more extensive background check than I expected. Let's just say that I will be signing away any sense of privacy I ever thought I had. I'm particularly looking forward to the results of the questions I have given them explicit permission to ask my doctors, and they'll also be looking into why I left the teaching profession. Nice... let's see what else I can do to make me question my ability to ever do or be anything other then a secretary in some meaningless business office (a perfectly respectable job, the past holding of which has made me want to kill myself).

In other news, I am headed out for a Weekend of Wedding though I have no responsibilities for said event. Instead I will be stuck for 3 days in a city where no one wants to meet me, watching the last of the female cousins (other than the eldest--me, of course) get married.

You say I can at least look forward to dressing up to lookk good and enjoying myself at the wedding? Uh... no. I'll just say nature hasn't made that possible at this time...

Which probably explains my general crabbiness, fuzzy-headedness, and borderline depression.

And Guy Who Asked Me Out Then Immediately Went on Three-week Trip to Europe? Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. I waver between being seriously ticked at him for asking me out when he wouldn't be able to follow through for three weeks, and deciding that I must've imagined/misunderstood him. Fortunately he'll be back Sunday and I can then stop the insanity.

Oooohhh, it's so fun being me this week.

My motto today? It Sucks Being Me*


*And yes, there is so much more that could be wrong, and so much that I should be thankful and happy about. But I'm not--maybe the big problems have weighed me down so much that I can no longer cope with the small ones. It's just that right now I don't have the capacity to feel any differently, which with my state of mind I just funnel back into negative feelings about myself. I'm just healthy that way...

Update: Encouragement from an expected quarter.

Update II: I reported the accident to the Harbor Police today and they took a very thorough report (they asked me about the delay, but by the end I got the impression it wasn't an issue). I'm optimistic about finding a proper resolution, though they say it may not technically be hit-and-run. Meanwhile, I'm looking for someone who can de-magnetize my car, or maybe a shaman to lift the curse...

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19 September, 2006

Captain Z on the Radio!

Chuck Ziegenfuss (CPT Z) will be on Pittsburg's KDKA News Radio tomorrow morning at around 6:10. He'll be plugging The Blog of War.

You can listen live on the KDKA website, and they also offer downloads for archived shows, so you may be able to hear it later.

However, Chuck is also looking for someone who can help him record the interview for podcast. If you know how to do it, please email him ASAP.

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I need a self-esteem boost...

ENFJ- The Teacher

You scored 63% I to E, 47% N to S, 47% F to T, and 36% J to P!

Your type is known as the teacher, or the educating mentor. You also belong to the larger group called idealists. You tend to bring out the best in other people. You lead without seeming to do so. People are naturally drawn to you. You expect the very best from people which takes the form of enthusiastic encouragement which is so charming that people try their best not to disappoint you. You share your personality type with 3% of the population.

You need to feel a deep and meaningful connection to your romantic partners, and go to great lengths to understand and please your mate. Harmony is vitally important to you, and you often put others' needs before your own. You have a pretty thin skin and are easily hurt. Although you strive for harmony, when your values or ethics are violated, you can be very emotional, confrontational, and even punishing. However, you are very insightful about the underlying cause of conflicts, and an excellent communicator, so you have the tools to bring about a quick and peaceful resolution as long as you can keep control of your facilities. You want to be appreciated for your thoughtfulness and compassion. You need your partner to make a real effort to get to know you. Above all, you need to be able to express your feelings and have them taken seriously.

Your group summary: idealists (NF)

Your type summary: ENFJ
Link: The LONG Scientific Personality Test written by unpretentious2 on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test
I'm not sure how correct this personality sketch is, as I'm obviously split between N/S and T/F. But the part about harmony and conflict (including assisting resolution "as long as you can keep control of your facilities" is so true. That's why I tend to avoid political discussions these days--I don't trust my self-control when I am truly riled about something that matters). At least they mentioned only the good parts--hence the self-esteem boost.


You Are Girly Sexy

You're a youthful spirit, and your energy is infectious.

Men love your innocence and lack of emotional baggage.

You make every kiss seem like the first and every moment magical.

How could any guy in his right mind resist that?

Who knows if it's right or not, but I sure hope it is... *GRIN*

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17 September, 2006

"Lucky" Seven

Thanks for thinking of me, Steeljaw Scribe, but are you trying to embarrass me or something?!

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LiveJournal/blog along with your seven songs. Then tag seven other people to see what they’re listening to.

I cringe at the thought of answering this meme because my musical life recently has been so homogenous as to be embarrassing. It all started when cowboy Bloodspite introduced me to a particular song by George Strait. I liked the song so much I decided to explore the rest of Strait's music and soon found I liked a lot of his other songs, too.

I'd always enjoyed the lyrics of country music--from Red Neck Yacht Club and I Can't See Texas from Here to patriotic songs, love songs and story songs. The problem is that most of the country-pop/country-rock music that seemed to usually accompany the great lyrics grated on my classically-trained musical nerves. But most of George Strait's stuff appeals to both my intellect and my love of traditional folk music. So I've been living on a steady diet of George Strait, branching out into Randy Travis and dipping my toe into other untested waters.

Right now I'm still methodically exploring Strait, though. So, the list's a bit one-dimensional. I could pretty much just send you to this and you'd have the list of my recent favorite songs.

1. Let's Fall to Pieces Together - How can you not be charmed by a song that starts with "Pardon me, you left your tears on the jukebox, and I'm afraid they got mixed up with mine," and then moves on to...
    I don't mean to pry
    It's just that I noticed you
    Goin' out of your mind
    It looks like we're two of a kind

    Let's fall to pieces together
    Why should we both fall apart
    Let's fall to pieces together
    Right here in each other's arms

    Alone is much better together...
Sweet, witty and eye-rolling, all in one. And nice harmonies, too.

2. One Night at a Time - It's a bit of a throw-away but it's sexy. And it's got some nice instrumental solos, too.

3. Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart - Heart-breaking song about a man trying to put his marriage back together after his infidelity. I'm not crazy about the music, but the line "I feel like a stone you have picked up and thrown to the hard rock bottom of your heart" has really stuck with me.

4. You Know Me Better Than That - Funny lyrics. And the music's fun, too.
    But you know me better than that.
    You know the me that gets lazy and fat.
    How moody I can be, all my insecurities.
    You've seen me lose all my charm, you know I was raised on a farm.
    Oh, she tells her friends I'm perfect and that I love her cat,
    But you know me better than that.
5. I Just Want to Dance with You - This one bucks the trend of great lyrics. Some of the lines are rather facile and even a bit non-sensical, but the refrain, sung superbly by Strait and combined with the lilting, dipping melody line of the verses just appeals to me. I love the innocent sweetness of it, how the music effortlessly conjurs up images of being gently swept around the dance floor in somebody's arms.

6. Diggin' Up Bones - More great lyrics. The harmonies and backup singers touch on some vague emotional memory that I can't quite identify. Perhaps the feelings and sounds of small rural churches in southern Maryland and Indiana...

7. Forever and Ever, Amen - Randy Travis' voice may end up just being too nasal for my tastes, but I can't resist lines that take me back to my childhood in the farming country of the Delmarva peninsula like, "As long as old men sit & talk about the weather, as long as old women sit & talk about old men." And then there's this...
    They say that time takes it's toll on a body
    Makes the young girls brown hair turn grey
    But honey, I don't care, I'm not in love with your hair
    And if it all fell out, well, I'd love you anyway

    They say that time can play tricks on a memory
    And people forget things that they knew
    But it's easy to see it's happening to me
    I've already forgotten every woman but you
Yup, I'm a hopeless sap. Be kind.


And for tagging, I'll send you over to:

Cassandra - She has far more interesting musical tastes
AFSis - I don't have a clue what she likes
Bloodspite - He needs something light to blog about
Major Pain - Should be interesting
Barb - She's been a lazy blogger
Sgt. B - He's been lazy, too
AWTM - Probably has some kids' songs on the list

Update: Major Pain (previously known as Cpt. B) has replied. Apparently his blog is tag-proof and his answer rebounded into comments below.
Ok you got me but my site is tag proof and whatever you send me bounces off and sticks to you!! So here it is. I like all kinds of tunes so I thought I would post them here for you to get the full affect!! (in no particular order)

• Anything from Nickelback (gearing up to get some)
• Suspicious Minds (The King- anytime music, really good in the middle of Iraq)
• The Lady Is A Tramp (Frankie “Blue Eyes” Sinatra or Michael Buble, good to smoke stoags to)
• One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer (George Thorogood, "On the road" music)
• Anything from Stevie Ray Vaughn ("On the road" music)
• Crazy (Gnarls Barkley, good song for…………um you know)
• Joe Satriani (listen to it and you tell me)
• Honorable Mention: Any George Strait (I helped his roadies set up a stage one day……that’s a whole other story though)
• Honorable Mention #2: Any Toby Keith (he signed a flag for us and so we played his “Taliban Song” from a PsyOps vehicle during an attack, again a whole other story!!!)

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16 September, 2006

Project 2996, The Aftermath

D. Challenger Roe created the blogger 9-11 remembrance project I joined. He figured it would be big, but nothing like what actually happened:

I greatly underestimated the breadth of 2,996. I really thought that it would primarily involve those people who chose to participate in 2,996. Using the hits to the 2,996 participants' list I think it’s safe to say that the group of tributes generated millions, if not tens of millions, of hits.

Read his story of that day, and check out the project's new digs.

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The Blog of War - Video

"Major E," who has an excerpt in The Blog of War appeared on CNN with his wife. They didn't get the chance to talk too much about the book, but it's a great interview with a wonderful couple. Check it out.

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Soldier Ride, part IV

Part I: Tears and smiles and the amazing cyclists
Part II: The brotherhood and the bigwigs
Part III: An extraordinary Marine

The entire event was heart-breaking, inspirational, joyous, poignant, and just about every other emotion all at once. But on a personal level the most touching moment for me was my encounter with Soldier Ride's Executve Director, Steve Nardizzi.

As the event was winding down, Da Goddess mentioned that she would relish the opportunity to travel with the cyclists at next year's event as nurse for the team, providing any emergency first-aid and the other day-to-day medical care the riders need. Since she was busy with other things, I told her I'd go find Nardizzi and try to bring him over to her.

I found Nardizzi at the edge of the knot of people still enjoying the barbeque and plopped down in the sand in front of him. I told him how glad I was that the Soldier Ride program had been created. I told him that it was a joy to see the amputees doing so well, since with Valour-IT we're focused more on the time just after they are wounded, providing the laptop as a kind of psychological first aid. He knew about Valour-IT and so I told him how I'd cried when I saw the riders missing arms because I realized I was seeing in the flesh the other end of recovery, what we hoped and dreamed for them when we handed them a voice-activated laptop in their hospital bed. "The laptop is all about coping at the time, about showing them they are still a part of the world, that they can still function though they're reeling from their inuries." He started to grin and nod enthusiastically. "But what you're doing here is all about the future, showing them that literally anything is possible, that they are going to be active, and creative and do amazing things, that the world is still their oyster. That is so awesome to see."

I tried not to tear up, and I think his eyes glistened, too.

"Absolutely," he said. We just sat there looking at each other and grinning. No more words were necessary--our mutual joy at what we'd seen that day was written on our faces. It was so wonderful to see reflected in him the mixture of emotions I'd felt that day, and the combination of pride and humility we both felt from being involved with these amazing warriors. I knew as I looked at him that we both knew why the other did what we did for the wounded, that our hearts felt the same, that we were driven by the same things.

Sitting there as we just looked at each oher, I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit. He knew why I do what I do, how it felt to see a dream for others come to fruition, how I could feel such joy and sadness at the same time... He both "got it," and we never had to say a word about it to know that. After spending the last few years in such relative isolation, to meet someone who so completely understood was a breath of fresh air through my soul.

Surprisingly, he didn't know about MilBlogs, so I told him, and suggested that would be a great way to bring more attention to Soldier Ride's cycling clinics and raise money for next year's cross-country event. I told him to contact Matt and Greyhawk; I hope he does/has because Soldier Ride is an amazing program that should get as much financial and public support as possible. I saw first-hand that day the program's ability to inspire and speed the recovery of the amputees involved.

One final bit: while I was running around talking to people, Da Goddess was sitting and talking to Matthew Modine's agent, who was sitting next to Modine at a table that had been set up to sign copies of his book (he was selling them for $100, with all proceeds going to Soldier Ride). I would keep coming back to Da Goddess to tell her something or check on whether or not she was ready to go. As I had done all day, I pretty much ignored Modine [see Part II for my oblivious conversation about him that he overheard]. I was glad he was there since I knew the soldiers loved him and after his speech and interactions with the cyclists I respected his down-to-earth support for them, but celebrity in general does not turn my head. I mean, we didn't know each other and I wasn't a huge fan, so what did it matter that I kept walking past him?

Apparently he'd picked up on my indifference; I suspect he wasn't used to being ignored, haha! (although I did at one point and ask him how many books he'd sold, I know I didn't show a hint of being impressed by the opportunity to converse with him). About the third or fourth time I dropped by the table to talk to Joanie, he stopped me and asked if I was a Soldiers' Angel. Before I could begin to answer, Da Goddess whipped out a Valour-IT business card and told him all about it. He promptly pulled out a book and asked my name. And so, I had a souvenir from Soldier Ride. I'm not going to hyperventilate over the idea that Matthew Modine(!) gave me a personally-autographed book, but I saw enough of him to know his support for the wounded is serious, and so I appreciate his gift as a mark of our mutual concern. He had made a fan of me that day, long before he gave me a book.

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15 September, 2006


Just a litany of sad things that I need to get out of my system...

I'm honestly scared about my country's future. I'm not expert enough to know the right policy and strategic decisions, but I can't escape the growing feeling that there are two very menacing developmentsout there: 1) A surprisingly-large segment of politicians on all sides are playing politics with some very serious aspects of the war against terrorists/militants/fanatics who want to kill us. 2) The media's increasing incompetence and inability to tell a straight story; It's gotten to the point that I am daily stunned at the omissions and outright disinformation in the "most respected" media outlets.

School started this year without me as a teacher or student for the first time since 1996. It was more disturbing than I thought it would be. I feel like the rhythm of my life is "off." Not only do I miss the children, but I feel almost guilty that I let the peripheral aspects of the job beat me out of the true part of my job--having in impact on the lives of my students. But I'm not a teacher anymore. My license even expired... My hairdresser asked me about it yesterday and I found myself having to change the subject because tears threatened. I think I'm a bit lost living outside the rhythms of the school calendar.

Somehow my walls are paper thin today and I'm picking up on everyone else's emotions. Not good when I'm interacting with friends or family who are stressed, frustrated, worried, etc.

And it doesn't help that it's a cloudy day in SoCal!

Ehh... I'll just sit here and soundlessly cry for no discernable reason, haha!

Nah, I'll pick myself up off the floor, go cycling and hopefully shake off this dark dog...

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14 September, 2006

Cigars and Soldiers

Cigars International has been supplying cigars to troops deployed around the world, encouraging them to send back pictures of themselves enjoying CI's cigars.

This first one is for Sgt. B...

5/27/05 -


This photo was taken during a convoy from Mosul to Bilad. The convoy was three kilometers long and took 10 hrs. During that time anything, and I do mean anything, could happen to our convoy. Here I am with the two things I love most in this country. The "Ma Deuce" M2.50 CAL machine gun and a quality Cuban smoke....

Take care and God bless.

1LT Martin
Wakefield Mosul, Iraq.
Here's one with a great back-story...

5/24/05 -

Here I am smoking a wonderful ACID Kuba Kuba from CI on Christmas Day. This was taken as I came in off a patrol near LSA Anaconda (Balad Air Base) in which we had hit an IED and flipped our HMMWV. Luckily no one was injured. It had been raining all day and I am soaked to the skin, but nothing beats a good cigar to celebrate being alive.

Keep up the good work and the fine products.


William E. Palmer
Provost Marshal
And finally, this one is the epitome of "It's been a long day..."

05/18/05 -

On behalf of all of us here In the middle of Fallujah, I thank you for the cigars. Our days are long and exhausting. (Please see picture. I generally don’t look that badly.) Our reprieve is in the evening when we can all enjoy our cigar of choice. Please know that every evening, we look to your product to be able to enjoy our moment of peace.

Thanks again,

LtCol Jim “Hondo” Haldeman
You can see the rest of their awesome pictures here.

[h/t Andi at MilBlogs]

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13 September, 2006


A soldier's mother writes about how she got involved with Soldiers' Angels, and in the process she sheds some light on motivations of the rest of us, too:

After the phone call, and hearing everything that happened to him, and bumping around in Air Force planes and getting settled at Brooke [Army Medical Center], it be came something else. It became a way to say thank-you to all of Matt’s buddies, who had saved his life. It became a way to send them things they needed, but also things that would help take them away from the sandbox for a few minutes. It was trying to find ways to make them laugh. But, always it was about my appreciation of their actions that saved Matt, their continuing concern for his recovery, and the fact they were all Matt’s brothers, and now my sons. It was about love and gratitude!
For a view of a mother with a wounded son and a peek at the motivations behind the care packages, be sure to read it all.

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11 September, 2006

Why isn't it easier?

I've finally figured out why 9-11 gets harder each year...

Because each year I see more and more clearly how much it changed everything, and each year into this Long War I feel further and further away from the innocence that died that day.

I want to live in a world where the president doesn't have to speak harsh truths about life and death and good and evil, where it's inconceivable that buildings a hundred stories high can be destroyed in a matter of minutes. I wish I didn't know what it sounds like when reporters say "the building just fell in on itself" with voices steeped in professionalism but full of inchoate shock and grief as they squeeze out the words. I don't want to live in a world where Valour-IT is needed, where I watch hundreds of young men who look just like Johnathan Benson walk through the USO in such strength and innocence on their way to war, where I cry because a friend tells me of his son's inner agony after multiple deployments and encounters with barbarism beyond description.

I want my innocence back.

But each year takes us further away, further into a darkness that sometimes I doubt we even have the courage required to survive. I hate the terrorists more and more every day... Every day I want to raise my fist to them, every day I understand better how warriors steel themselves for what must be done.

Rage? No, there is no rage. There is righteous and fortifying anger. They stole lives and futures and beauty and even a part of our freedoms.

Damn them! They even stole our innocence.

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Remembering 9-11

[I will be adding more accounts of the day as I find them.]

Steeljaw Scribe - At the Pentagon and remembering shipmates
Homefront Six - Remembering Father Mychal Judge
AFSister - Comparing her morning to that of one whom we lost that day
Cassandra - Remembering and reflecting
Laurie - The story of a regular guy who went toward the towers
Kat - Reflecting on good versus evil
Neptunus Lex - Beyond description. If you only read one today...
Op-For - Required viewing
Cop - Thoughts of a first-responder on the West Coast.
Growing Old Disgracefully - Beautiful portrait of a sailor at the Pentagon
Captain Z - From the present to the past and the collective to the individual
Echo9er - The last man out of Vietnam
John of Powerline - The unheard story of 9-11-06
Major Pain - Where were you when you five years ago today?
Some Soldiers' Mom - She was in NY... another must-read.

[update] I don't know if I have it in me to write much personal this year about that day and all that surrounds it; it seems to get harder the further we are from it. Yesterday I saw video of the WTC towers falling and other horrific visions of that day. I can't remember the last time I saw video of thsoe events--probably 2002--but it feels as fresh as if I'd seen it last week. I found I remembered every detail, that nothing had that zing of newly-recovered memory. Perhaps distance gives me room to feel the impact instead of trying to escape from it as I did in the months immediately after... Maybe I will write about it later. In the meantime, here's what I offered last year: It's That Date Again.

P.S. Notice the direction everyone is moving in that final picture above...

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Remembering Timothy Patrick McSweeney

[Update 9/11/09: I see from my Sitemeter that someone has linked this post from facebook. If you are willing, I would love to know who are...]

The most genuine person you would ever meet...
he defined “good guy.”

His father tried to talk him into a different career, but to no avail—he wanted his work “to matter.” Besides, with a battalion chief for a father and other family members also serving, it was in his blood. He received six awards for bravery during his 14 years at Ladder Company 3 and was one of 12 firefighters Ladder 3 lost from their regular complement of 25 that awful day. On duty that horrifying morning, his last known location was so typical for him: assisting burn victims in Tower One when it collapsed. He was 37 years old.

At 6’3” tall and built like a truck, Timothy Patrick Sweeney was known as “Big Guy” and “Gentle Giant,” or “Timbo” to his friends. The moniker “Gentle Giant” fit him perfectly. Whether at the firehouse feeding his fellow firefighters and mentoring the “probies” (rookies), or at home doting on his children and advising his three younger sisters, Timothy was a loving nurturer and protector.

In what was reportedly “one hell of an Irish bash” in 1995, Timbo married his sister’s best friend Debbie after a lifetime of friendship and two years of dating. Debbie reports he was anxious to start a family, and they soon produced an armful of children—Patrick was 4 at the time of his father’s death, Margaret 3 and Dennis 1. He was an attentive father, involved in every part of their lives: playing with them, bathing, feeding, pampering and protecting them. Debbie would often return to their Staten Island home from her shift as a nurse to find him in his recliner with their children draped all over him—one laying across his shoulders, the infant in his arm, and a third snuggling in his lap, “Like one great big person," Debbie says.

That loving and protective quality was apparent at work, too. He was the “grownup” the nervous new firefighters turned to and the figure around which the company’s social activities revolved. He organized everything Ladder 3 did for recreation, from picnics to softball games to holiday parties. Known for being a superb cook, he took responsibility for the firehouse commissary, including bookkeeping and supervising the purchase of supplies.

Words like "kind, down-to-earth, easygoing, upbeat, gentle, warm" and "a rock" come up repeatedly in connection with Timothy McSweeney. It was obvious he had a profound effect on all who knew him. He was particularly close to his in-laws and so tight with his numerous lifelong friends that Debbie referred to them as his brothers.

Each person who died on that horrifying day five years ago left behind an aching void in somebody’s heart. But I can’t help but think that some must have left behind bigger and more numerous empty spaces than others…

But I also can't help but think of what a beautiful example Timothy McSweeney was and how profound his impact on those he touched. And so, through the lives of people he guided and shaped and loved, he still lives today.

Timothy Patrick McSweeney, 1964-2001

Rest in Peace
You Will Not Be Forgotten

[Sources: Fallen Brothers (here also), Ladder 3, Newsday, Staten Island Advance]

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How Will You Remember?

Coming soon...

[This post will remain on top until 9/11/06]

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10 September, 2006

Resting in Peace

Update: Much more here and here.

* * * * *

Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends... -- Tattoo on Cpl. Benson's back.

The sad news we have been expecting these last few weeks has come to pass. USMC Corporal Johnathan Benson slipped away last night due to complications from the grievous wounds he suffered in service to his country last June.

Rest in peace, dear warrior.

From his CaringBridge site:

It is hard to write these words as I remember his smiling face and hear his laughter in my mind. He fought a very good fight and has been an inspiration to many of us. May we remember his bravery, his joy with which he lived his life, his pride with which he served his country and the love he showed to so many. Johnny boy, you are are truly and deeply missed, we love you. As his brother said, John is now running in the fields of heaven with new arms and new legs, and he will be able to run forever.
And may we remember his family who need us at this time.

His CaringBridge site linked above includes a guestbook section you can use to send his family your condolences. In addition, I have his mother's email address, so if you would like to write to her directly and privately, send me an email with your message. I will compile all messages into a single email and send it to her. Please do not use the U.S. mail address that has been posted here previously.

[History: original post, update 1, update 2, update 3, update 4, update 5]

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09 September, 2006

Saturday Silliness

It's gonna be a tough weekend, so let's enjoy some frilly stuff for now: Chick Quizzes! Well, maybe not the first one...

Sweet. Romantic. Genuine.



What Your Soul Really Looks Like

You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.

You are a grounded person, but you also leave room for imagination and dreams. You feet may be on the ground, but you're head is in the clouds.

You believe that people see you as a bit small and insignificant. People pay more attention to you than you think.

Your near future is a lot like the present, and as far as you're concerned, that's a very good thing.

For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.

Nailed that one!

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07 September, 2006

Soldier Ride, part III

Part I: Tears and smiles and the amazing cyclists
Part II: The brotherhood and the bigwigs

As promised, the story of the Marine in the picture below...

If I recall correctly, the Marine's name is Chris. I had first noticed Chris as the riders played in the surf, watched him sitting there in joy and then playing in the water with such freedom. Here in this picture Chris is hitching a ride because both of his legs were amputated at the knee. The soldier carried his Marine brother on his back, out of the water and up to the Marine's wheelchair, just one of the many scenes of brotherly support and assistance I saw that day.

Da Goddess' son, Little Dude, was given a coin by one of the Vietnam veterans after the ceremony and he saluted the man who gave it to him. LD than asked, "Are you a Marine?" And when the answer was no, "Can I salute a Marine?" The veteran in question instantly instigated a search for a Marine for LD to salute.

The Marine they found was Chris. Permission asked and granted, and soon LD was standing in front of Chris' wheelchair, executing and receiving a very smart salute as their eyes locked. The crowd of people who happened to be standing by all turned to watch, holding our collective breath at the powerful scene--here was young and innocent 10-year-old LD with not even a mark on his face standing in front of a man who had lost both his legs at the knee and had scars running up the side of his neck due to his service in protection of LD, who looked at his Marine hero with nothing but wide-eyed respect and inspiration. They spoke a bit about LD's desire to be a Marine and Chris was positive and supportive of LD's aspirations, telling him what an honor it is to be a Marine and protect your country.

Later during the barbeque I happened to be sitting near Chris. There were so many people that some of us sat on the edge of the conrete slabs on which the tables were placed. As I sat down I noticed Chris a few feet away from me. He'd exited his wheelchair to sit on the ground so that he'd be at everyone else's level. He'd also removed his shirt, which again drew my attention. From the front, his skin was in perfect condition, but his entire back and the exact back half of his upper arms was one big, red, angry scar (an extention of the scarrring seen on his neck and cheek in the picture above). His skin had obviously been burned off--I could see the muscle striations under his thin, new skin and knew that he was very lucky to be alive. I also assumed that he'd had a very long and painful recovery as he fought the dangers of infection from the severe burns and the pain of new skin that had adhered itself directly to his muscles, affecting his flexibility.

As we finished eating, he expertly levered himself with his arms back up into his wheelchair, moving with ease despite the damage to his skin. Someone standing closer to him than I said, "My, you do that so well!"

I wanted to smack her for her well-intentioned but condescending remark. To my surprise and growing respect, he responded lightly with a smile, "Well, I've had a lot of practice." I jumped into the conversation and said something sympathetic about it having surely been a long road. Chris looked slightly uncomfortable and then said it had not really been that long. Having seen first-hand his massive injuries, I was surprised. I squatted down to converse with him at eye-level and politely asked if he would mind explaining what he meant.

"I was wounded on December 7, 2005."

My jaw literally fell open. That was only 8 months ago, and here he's been riding through the desert on a bicycle! I told him I was amazed, and asked if he would be willing to tell me why he thought he'd recovered so quickly.

"It's all attitude, he replied," saying that his doctors had told him it usually took about 18 months to get to the point in recovery he was after only 8 months. I tried to respond, but I think I just babbled in amazement.

It turns out Chris' grandfather was severely injured in a coal mining accident at a very young age, and Chris had grown up knowing what a full life his grandfather led. It didn't hurt either that Chris is a Marine; he said that had a lot to do with it, and that though it was hard at times he'd decided he had a life to live. I told him that I hadn't faced the intensity of challenges that he is, but that I understood the times in life where you either decide to move forward or you die where you are. He nodded his head in agreement.

Chris also said he was still at Walter Reed as an outpatient and that Jim "the Milkshake Man" Myer and LTC Andrew Lourake (AF amputee who has returned to flying) had been great as peer counselors for him. In fact, he was thinking that he might want to be a peer counselor at Walter Reed himself. I strongly encouraged him to do it, as he was proof of how important perspective and attitude are to survival and recovery.

We also talked about Fran O'Brien's. I told him I'd been there the weekend before it closed. "It was an amazing place," I said. He nodded and we were quiet for a moment.

It was such an odd and wonderful thing to finally sit and talk to the kinds of people I'd been trying to help from a distance in Arizona, so weird to sit and discuss people and situations that I'd known largely from afar, but now tied me to a stranger I'd just met. I think Chris and I could've talked for quite awhile, but they soon had to leave to go meet the van that would take them back to the hotel. I reluctantly shook his hand goodbye and stood up, ankles and knees screaming from having squatted next to his wheelchair.

What an extraordinary man...

Part IV: Meeting a kindred spirit, meeting a star, and tying things up.

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06 September, 2006

The Wisdom of Lex

Lex's shameless tastes led to some amusing conversation today regarding some of the differences between men and women. I posited that one distinction was in the extent to which each gender allows hormones to rule. But Lex offered this smile-inducing bon mot:

Not ruled by hormones? You’ve never been at my house when the three of ‘em get going. Whether you guys are ruled by hormones, or whether you merely use them to rule, they’re definitely in the mix - unlike us though, yours make you less likely to be agreeable.
And ain't that just it in a nutshell? (I love that last line!). Poor dears, I almost feel sorry for men; no wonder they're clueless half the time... ;-)

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The Paratrooper and the Kitten

Ladies, do I even need to explain?

Nah, I thought not. Lucky kitten.

[h/t John of Argghhh!]

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Random Thoughts

Well... that last post didn't do me any favors, did it? I try to be non-political here, but it's hard to do that when the question of our very existence itself seems to be politicized.

On to (sorta) brighter thoughts... I'm gonna blame general crankiness for my attitude yesterday. The good news is that as of last week I have a date with a sharp-witted, handsome and all-around good man who makes me laugh and blush in about equal amounts (not that the latter is hard to do, haha!). The bad news is that he asked me out 48 hours before he went to Europe on TDY, so we have to wait until the end of September for our date... which is making me very cranky! It also has the lovely quality of allowing me to be a typical female and obsess over every detail of our interactions after he asked me out, without any new experiences with him to prove to myself the irrationality of my ridiculous fears that exist despite my best efforts to be reasonable.

And if that last sentence made no sense to you, don't worry; you're obviously not a female. Sometimes I really hate being a woman...

And on to more important things: start brainstorming for another Valour-IT fundraiser this Fall. But hold off on linking or sharing--I'll be putting up a separate post for suggestions.

One last personal note: Today is my initial orientation for volunteering at the mil-hospital (between security/background checks and training, it will be awhile before I actually start volunteering). I'm not getting a bad vibe from the volunteer coordinator, but I'm not feeling like we've connected in our interactions yet, either. So please send prayers and good vibes on my behalf. I can't afford to screw this up.

And one more thing: I've already started writing the lastest installment of Soldier Ride, but I'm having a hard to concentrating (imagine that!), so it's developing rather slowly. I'm gonna try to finish it today, though.

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05 September, 2006

Nauseating / Rant

I went from this to this...

I dont know whether to cry in fear and hopelessness or just throw up. Yes, "laugh" is not an option. This was just the last straw for me today.

First, the AP headline on a hard-hitting presidential speech that lays it all on the table, saying what we've wished for long he would say: Bush uses bin Laden quotes for war rally. Translation: Oh, look! The evil Bush is holding war rallies. How barbaric!

Of course, several paragraphs down we find the following:

It [the speech] was delivered to the Military Officers Association of America in a hotel ballroom filled with U.S. troops, including several injured in the war, and with diplomatic representatives of foreign countries that have suffered terrorist attacks.
A professional assocation. Sounds like a war rally to me...

And then there's the typical opinion piece masquerading as reporting:
With two months until an Election Day that hinges largely on national security, Bush laid out bin Laden's vision in detail, including new revelations from previously unreported documents. Voters were never more united behind the president than in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and his speech was designed to convince Americans that the threat has not faded five years later.
I'm the first to jump up and say that 99% of morality today is individual, but this here is the result of moral relativism. I mean, God forbid there's actually a right and wrong, that there are people out to kills us due to hatred of us, that President Bush actually believes what he's saying! It's not our lives at stake! No, it's all just a political game.

And yes, after paragraphs and paragraphs of snarky statements from the opposition (reporter included), we finally get a few quotes on what he actually said.

Let's just give it up now and let the Fascists Hiding in the Name of Religion have our necks.

I don't why we bother some days. I really don't. There aren't enough of us...


And one more thing: the speech (and the professional organization's meeting) was held at the Capital Hilton. Yeah, that one. Tell me again how one person can make a difference?


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Get It. Now.

Go get it now. Buy one for yourself and for a friend.

The Blog of War defies description. It arrived on my front step today, and with it a whirlwind of emotions that feel like they're too much and too variegated to be contained in one heart.

Today I held in my hand a cast of characters that are not only individuals to me, but avatars of a time and place in the life of me and my country, people I have come to know and love. I flipped immediately to the index to find the one post I had been wanting to read for months, but found instead the "where are they now?" appendix of contributors: memories of emails and worries, tears and exultation, wisdom and knowledge kindly transmitted, hugs long-delayed...

But I somehow couldn't bring myself to sit down and really read it, so I just browsed from excerpt to excerpt, never really able to sit and focus for more than moments (I understand now what Sarah said about only being able to read it in short bursts). Some of it's familiar, some of it's new...

I finally settled down enough to read introductions and posts here and there in their entirety. And I was knocked off my feet. These are real people. It is exactly as the publisher describes: A "choir of voices" who combine to give us a broad view into the life of military service in wartime with a rawness and immediacy never before seen.

I soon realized that the book was strangely both painful--a bald-faced look at war--and a glorious tribute to the human spirit, to the beauty and agony of life and death that makes us who we are. A peek into the truth of war, and a tribute to the "everydayness" of people who rise to the occasion... in all their compassion, ferocity, tenderness, profanity of word and spirit, in their brilliance and humor, in their courage as they struggle to hold together all that threatens to fall apart along the way.

I also couldn't help but think of the impact so many of these people have had on my life, and how what we have done together for others has changed my own world, too. Who they are and what they have done has extended even to me. But that's another story that I'll write soon....

In the meantime, I sit here with tears of sorrow, joy, pride and gratitude rolling down my cheeks. I cannot put it into words what should be said about those who have faced the dark on our behalf. But in giving them space to speak for themselves, this book says all that needs to be said.

Matt, ya done good. Very good.

Update: Welcome, Blackfive readers. If you're new to the neighborhood, please check out the Valour-IT button on the sidebar. Valour-IT is a project of Soldiers' Angels to give voice-controlled laptops to wounded soldiers, and has been supported and sustained by many of the bloggers in Matt's book. Just click on the icon to visit the official website.

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04 September, 2006

Tears and Smiles

...That's what was on my face after I finished reading.

Chuck, you're not leading soldiers, but doing something even more powerful--developing tomorrow's leaders of soldiers.

I'll have more to say later. But right now, go, read about what Captain Z is doing today. And remember all that these last 14 months have contained...

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03 September, 2006

The Buddyhood

I was looking for a graphic to illustrate a post I wrote recently, but instead I found this photo and commentary from retail site Sgt. Grit:

I don't know how many other Marines saw [this picture]... An injured Marine was laying down on his side and a bunch of other[s] around him. It looks like he got wounded in the lower back. I pray he is safe and recovering well. What captured my attention the most was there was someone holding his hand. No doubt a buddy. Someone who knows him well, possibly for years or maybe just a few months. It doesn't matter. He buddy was there for him. Holding his hand, giving him comfort during his pain. Maybe saying, “Hang in there, you're going to be ok.”

This is comfort that only a Buddy can give, other than your mom. Your buddy know[s] all about you. How you smell after two weeks without a shower and what you girlfriend's name is. All about your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews and anyone else that you love. What your hopes for the future are and what you want to happen in your future. He knows which MRE's you like and don't like. You usually eat together and you automatically swap components in your meal because you know he'll eat something you will not. He knows your favorite restaurant for libo, and anywhere else you like to go. He knows if you like to read and what literature you like to read. He know[s] if you sing and what your favorite songs are. He also knows if you can't sing worth a hoot because he lets you know every time you cranks up a tune. He knows what your favorite songs on the radio are and if you’re drunk enough you both sing together, and sound good. He knows what the first thing you're going to do when you get back stateside [is]. I don't read a lot between the lines but I just couldn't help having a lot of thoughts run through my mind when I saw the picture.

God bless the Marine Corps and God bless America,
J. Bolin "Bo", Cpl. 1986-1992 Wpns 1/5, 81's, Semper Fi. Boot Camp Plt. 2074
We often wonder how our warfighters do what they do. I think this is part of the answer: it’s amazing what you can do with a “buddy” at your side…

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02 September, 2006

Stupid Girl

I just had to get this out somewhere!

Yesterday at the USO was Graduation Day: every Friday the newest crop of Marines return from boot camp after the ceremony, usually with families and girlfriends in tow as they wait for their flights out of town. One young Marine apparently had only his girlfriend with him. Here’s how it played out...

I’m in the kitchen doing food prep since the high volume of traffic means the food is practically “flying off the shelves.” I overhear the following conversation between the young Marine who is eating everything in sight, his pretty girlfriend, and her friend:

New Marine: (reaching for a pasty) Oh man, this stuff is so good!

NM’s Girlfriend: Are you eating again?!

NM: I’m hungry.

NM GF: You can’t be. And you eat too much! You need to lose weight.

NM: (eating and reaching for more)

NM GF’s friend: What are you talking about?!

At that point I just had to turn around and look. I was confronted with the typical newly-minted Marine: 19 years old, lean and sinewy. No bulging muscles, but not a waif. Give him another year or two of adulthood and he will fill out his uniform very nicely.

I was stunned. But minding my own business, I returned to my activities as the conversation continued.

NM GF: He’s a got a poochy tummy! He’s not like the other guys. I saw them when they were standing there [in formation at the ceremony, I suspect]. He had a little bulge on his tummy when he had his uniform on. They were all flat under their shirts, but he’s not.

NM GF’s friend: Don’t be ridiculous.

NM GF: You can’t see it cause he’s got his regular clothes on, but you can tell when he has his uniform on; he needs to lose a little weight! So, if he keeps eating like that he's gonna get really fat.

She again went back to comparing him to the other Marines.

I finally turned around and said sweetly to her, “The old joke is that Marines, especially young ones, have a hollow leg where they store all the food they eat. They eat a lot because they’re working hard. I smiled gently. “It’s nothing to worry about. He’s just being a typical Marine.”

She pretty much ignored me, but her friend took up his cause based on my words. Her nagging continued unabated. Every word I heard out of her mouth was critical—whether it was about his weight or something else—and was all said in a piercing kind of voice that reverberated in the hard surfaces of the snack area and could be heard throughout much of the USO facilities.

It took every ounce of my self-control not to pull him aside and say, “Dump her while you still can, son.”

This was the day of Boot Camp Graduation, for God’s sake! She hasn’t seen him in three months, he’s probably in the best shape of his life, he’s more proud of this than anything he’s ever done, and she’s nagging him about an imaginary poochy stomach!!!

Poor kid. I hope he wises up soon. Thinking of the future of these two was like standing on a mountain top and watching opposing trains on a single track in the valley below. Nothing to be done but hope one of them figures it out before it’s too late.

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01 September, 2006

Raising Baby Soldiers

Questing Cat of "Combat Life Saver" fame (his blog post soon to be appearing in The Blog of War) has sent Blackfive a great peek at a sergeant's perspective on brand-new soldiers in a combat zone:

In the end, they too will learn the way of our world. That you can dream of action, but the reality is never what you thought it would be. That the training they had already is the only thing that will carry them through tomorrow. That the details can’t wait until you are out on mission. And until they do, I lose a little more sanity everyday.

We all do what we must, because in a life worth living, someone is counting on you. Sometimes, it is those waiting at home, sometimes it is those miles away. And sometimes it is a private who gets me chewed out because he was a dumb ass. And glad to make a difference.
Be sure to read it all (the comments are great, too).

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Joseph and Jose and Ethan... and Tommy

The increasing separation from civilians and lack of true support many of our warfighters are beginning to feel led me back to this poignant poem by Rudyard Kipling. Written over 120 years ago, it's beginning to ring painfully true in too many circles today.


I went into a public- 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls behind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:

O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play-
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you Mr Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fighting', Lord! They'll shove me in the stalls!

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide-
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins," when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap;
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.

Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll-
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's " Thin red line of 'eroes," when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;

While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind-
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck 'im out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

And shame to all of us that Tommy should ever see what has been bubbling up these recent days...

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