Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress to the Marine's father, Albert Snyder of York, Pa.
Snyder sued the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified monetary damages after members staged a demonstration at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.
The defense said it planned to appeal and one of the church's leaders, Shirley Phelps-Roper, said the members would continue their pickets of military funerals.
This group is absolutely disgraceful! If the worst happened and one of them came to my son's funeral with a sign saying "thank God for dead soldiers" I would be hard pressed not to go ballistic. It really grieves me that they claim to be Christian.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Posted : Tuesday Oct 30, 2007 8:30:08 EDT
CUMBERLAND, Ohio — Now that he’s back home from Iraq, an Ohio Marine is learning all about the busy social life his two-dimensional twin led during his absence.
“Flat Brett” is a small, cardboard cutout doll of Lance Cpl. Brett Davis, made by one of his mother’s co-workers at Basic Systems Inc., an engineering and automation firm.
Carman Friday said she got the idea after learning that local schools were participating in the “Flat Stanley” project, in which students mail around a paper doll and keep a journal of its travels. The project was sparked by a children’s book with the same name.
In a similar vein, Flat Brett was photographed as he went around to family functions and was taken along on a business trip to Texas. The little guy with a round, smiling face and wearing construction paper camouflage and black boots even got to meet country singers Josh Turner and Josh Gracin when they performed at county fairs this summer near the Davis family’s home in this village about 70 miles east of Columbus.
The real Brett Davis, 23, who left for boot camp in October 2003, returned to town Saturday after completing his Marine enlistment following a seven-month deployment to Iraq earlier this year.
His mother, Connie Davis, said Monday that Flat Brett is resting now, inside a photo album of his adventures that’s now complete with a final picture of both Bretts together.
Monday, October 29, 2007
CavMom has nominated me for the Nice Matters Award! CavMom is a great military mom blogger and I read her blog every day. I'm so honored to have her nomination.
To make it even more fun, I get to nominate 7 bloggers. It's hard to keep it to just 7, but I'll do my best.
De'on at Gunz Up : She is a Gold Star Marine mom. We've actually met in person and she is a dear, dear friend and truly nice in the best possible sense of the word. She is one of those people who is lit up from within.
Dixie at Dixie's Heart and Soul: She is a brand new Marine mom still spending time with her son while he is on boot leave. Those are precious days that pass all too quickly!
Just John at Write on the Right: It seems strange to award a girly graphic like this to a Marine Gunnery Sergeant who is a former Drill Instructor, but I can't help it! He has been so nice to us here at LMP and so helpful to me personally with all my dumb Marine mom questions (What does this abbreviation mean? What can I post on the blog about where he is? and on and on ). He has also patiently listened to my Marine mom bragging... it's so much fun to brag to someone who knows what you're talking about. So John, even though I'm sure none of your recruits ever thought so, we here at LMP think you are NICE! Don't feel like you have to display the graphic though. Don't want to hurt your reputation.
Beth at Blue Star Chronicles: She is another military mom and she was instrumental in helping me get the blog off the ground. It took SEVERAL emails with her for me to figure out our first blog roll. She basically gave me the "blogging for complete idiots" course. Thanks Beth!
Big White Hat: Here I go again with the award for a guy, but he really is such a nice guy. BWH is a true family man and what is nicer than that?
Flag Gazer at Gazing at the Flag: She is so supportive of our troops and of LMP. She has a great blog and I always enjoy her posts and usually learn something new too.
Don at Don's Mind: He too is always so supportive of our projects here at LMP. He was our first contributor in this year's care pack drive. He's a Navy vet and a proud grampa.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Andrew Farrar Sr. attempts to break his own deadlift world record at the Amateur Athletic Union’s World Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Fla., earlier this month. Farrar was lifting in memory of his son, Sgt Andrew Farrar Jr., who was killed in Iraq in 2005. Joining Farrar was Col. Richard Anderson, MCB Quantico’s Security Battalion commanding officer, who was the younger Farrar’s CO at the time of his death.
Oct. 26, 2007; Submitted on: 10/26/2007 02:09:52 PM ; Story ID#: 2007102614952
By Staff Sgt. F.B. Zimmerman, MCB Quantico
ORLANDO, Fla. (Oct. 26, 2007) -- Standing at five-foot, three-inches tall and weighing in at 120 pounds, 58-year-old Andrew Farrar Sr. is a giant in the sport of powerlifting.
While one wouldn’t think it by looking at him, he qualifies as such after breaking the Amateur Athletic Union’s deadlift world record for all raw categories of the 123-pound weight class during the World Powerlifting Championship at the Disney Sports Complex here recently. Farrar put up a staggering 162.5 kilograms (358.2 pounds) – nearly three times his body weight – without any assistance, not even a weight belt.
Setting a record of his own was Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Col. Richard Anderson, the commanding officer of Security Battalion, who deadlifted 242.5 kgs (534.6 pounds) to claim the top mark in the Military/Masters raw categories of the 198-pound weight class.
While both men have taken part in powerlifting competitions before, they met at this meet for one purpose: to honor Farrar’s son, Andrew Farrar Jr., who was killed in Iraq on Jan. 28, 2005. Farrar Jr. served under Anderson with the now deactivated 2nd Military Police Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, and was killed on his 31st birthday while on patrol in the Anbar province. He was electrocuted after running into a live high-voltage wire.
Since his death, Anderson has stayed in contact with his father, calling him every weekend to make sure the family was doing fine and to see if they needed anything.
‘‘The nightmare for these families is that their loved ones will be forgotten,” Anderson said, ‘‘and that’s not going to happen as long as I’m alive.”
During one of their many conversations, Farrar asked Anderson if he lifted, which he does. Farrar then told Anderson he was going to compete in the competition in memory of his son, and asked if he would like to compete. Anderson promptly replied, ‘‘If you do it, I’ll do it, too.”
Farrar said he has been lifting weights since high school, but gave it up for several years. When his three sons – Andrew Jr., Jason and Nathan - became a little older, he got back into the sport, lifting with his boys. He would even go to the gym at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and lift with Andrew Jr. whenever he would visit him there.
‘‘My sons and I found a tremendous amount of enjoyment lifting together,” said Farrar, whose family hails from Weymouth, Mass.
He said he was training for several years for a contest, and his dream was for Andrew Jr., who was on his second tour, to return from Iraq and serve as his spotter.
‘‘He was to come home about the same time as registration was due ... I never sent the registration in,” Farrar said with a tone of sadness in his New England accent. ‘‘I was really looking forward to him coming home because he had never been to one of my contests.”
This latest powerlifting competition was one of many for Farrar, but only the second since the death of his son. For Anderson, the competition was his eighth, and the first since 1998.
Before the lifting began, Farrar said his son was there.
‘‘I feel he’s with me all the time,” he said. ‘‘There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think and remember my son.”
As Farrar took off his warm-up clothes, chalking his strong, calloused hands for his first lift, it was evident Andrew Jr. was there.
Farrar was wearing a brown T-shirt with the words ‘‘Marine Dad” emblazoned on a printed expert marksmanship badge on the left chest that his son gave him after he graduated from recruit training, a yellow ribbon pin on the shirt, and on his left wrist a bracelet bearing son’s name. The most notable tribute was the blue singlet Farrar wore, which has his son’s name, date of his birth and death, location of his death, an Eagle, Globe and Anchor, and the phrase ‘‘Sacrifice with honor for freedom.”
Both Farrar and Anderson made their record-breaking lifts on their second attempt, and they both tried to break their own records on their third attempt, but couldn’t get the weights up. Farrar was visibly upset he didn’t hit his goal of 395 pounds, but Anderson and other competitors congratulated him on his accomplishment.
‘‘Mr. Farrar is a true American patriot,” Anderson said. ‘‘He’s supportive of the troops and the war ... he hasn’t lost his patriotic fervor. He’s honoring his son’s memory and the Marine Corps.”
Farrar and Anderson say they stay in contact via e-mail almost every day, but Anderson said he prefers the personal touch of phone calls.
‘‘Colonel Anderson has given me a tremendous amount of encouragement to keep going,” Farrar said. ‘‘It still helps to have him call every week. It’s difficult to stay focused – I was going to stop lifting.”
With possible knee replacement surgery looming, this was the probably the last competition for Farrar.
When asked what his son would say to him if he were at the meet that day, Farrar said, ‘‘His exact words would be, ‘You can do it, Dad.’”
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Wounded sergeant dragged 4 buddies to safety
By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Oct 27, 2007 6:52:29 EDT
The snipers could tell the mortar team was close.
Both heard the unnerving sound of an explosive round exiting the mortar tube and immediately ran into the Fallujah, Iraq, street to get the 30 other Marines bogged down with them to scramble for cover.
Two mortars bracketed the leathernecks — one falling behind and another in front — before one mortar exploded a few feet away, blowing Sgt. Chad Cassady through a door and into a courtyard. Cpl. Russell Scott collapsed in the street, peppered with shrapnel in his leg and buttocks, along with a bullet hole in his arm.
Scott desperately tried to crawl into a nearby building, as insurgents’ bullets and mortars rained down on him. Cassady was still lying in the courtyard with shrapnel lodged in his chest and legs, his right lung collapsed, and his liver and kidneys lacerated.
“All of a sudden, [Cassady] came flying out of the smoke and dust and grabbed me,” Scott said of his sniper team leader with 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. “He dragged me to the building and then ran back out for the others.”
Almost three years after that November 2004 afternoon during the second Battle of Fallujah, now-2nd Lt. Cassady was awarded the Silver Star — the nation’s third-highest medal for combat bravery — for “repeatedly exposing himself to save the lives of several wounded Marines who were trapped in the open,” according to the award citation.
After Cassady dragged Scott into the building’s kitchen, he limped back out and carried in three more leathernecks. As the sniper tried to carry in a fourth, he passed out from blood loss, and Staff Sgt. Christian Erlenbush had to carry Cassady off the street.
Cassady was immediately airlifted to Baghdad, where he was rushed into emergency surgery that saved his life.
“You can’t just lay down,” said Cassady, now the platoon commander for Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines. “If they stayed out in the street when rounds were coming down, they were going to die.”
He was presented the medal Oct. 17 on the 5th Marines’ parade deck at Camp Pendleton, Calif., after returning from his third deployment to Iraq.
Col. Willy Buhl, 3/1’s battalion commander in 2004, said he and other Marine Corps and Navy officials were disappointed in how long it took for Cassady to receive the medal.
“The secretary of the Navy said that it was Chad’s case that convinced him that he should [delegate] awards like this to the commandant,” Buhl said. “It bothered him and [he] said it was unsatisfactory. Chad was a catalyst for positive change.”
Cassady, 33, one of the older second lieutenants in the Corps, didn’t enlist until he was 26 and had already earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science.
“If you would have asked me what I was going to be when I was 18, I definitely wouldn’t have said a Marine. But after I finished school, I looked at the world differently,” he said.
Buhl said he immediately recognized how Cassady stood out from the other snipers with 3/1.
“When he says something, it’s powerful,” Buhl said. “He knows what he is going to say before he opens his mouth. He got my respect and [that of] the men around him.”
While Cassady was overcoming his injuries, Buhl encouraged him to seek a commission. Cassady was accepted to Officer Candidate School, and despite discomfort from shrapnel still lodged in his intestines, he completed both OCS and the Basic School on time.
Three years after the mortar attack that nearly killed him, Cassady said hearing he’d been awarded the Silver Star left him thinking about the Marines with him who didn’t come back.
“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Cassady said. “It brings back a lot of memories and faces, like the Marines I grew up with that lost their lives in Fallujah.”
Friday, October 26, 2007
I got a call last night from the 440 area code (which is OH somewhere). Anyway, the woman said that she was from the Marine Corps Association and she said that Chris had renewed his subscription to Leatherneck Magazine in August and had not paid the $42. They asked for PFC which he hasn't been in a long time. The lady without even taking a breath said "I know this is his mother and if you give me your credit card number I will go ahead and take care of this so his credit is not affected." Knowing that the entire line she was feeding me was BS I told her "If you ever call this number again, I will hunt you down like the dog you are and rip the skin off your body with my bare f***ing hands. How dare you take advantage of our fighting men and women!" She hung up very quickly. I called the MCA (Marine Corps Association) this morning and asked about my son's subscription. The nice woman told me that it was paid in full and that there was no problem. I did tell her about the phone call.
I had remembered receiving an email recently about this from another organization that I am a member of.
PLEASE BE CAREFUL AND LET FOLKS KNOW TO BE CAREFUL!!!
As I stood in line to grill my sandwich, I watched a young corporal preparing two meals to-go. There was nothing really special about the meals . . . except this.
It was obvious to me that this Marine was carefully selecting different things for each tray. One was for him, the other was for his buddy who stood guard at the gate.
He carefully selected meat and cheese, meticulously grilled and wrapped them, then chose sides. I was moved by the obvious care with which the Marine made lunch for his buddy.
But the bond between these Marines goes far beyond chow time.
The International Zone has its own Marines who stand guard to keep the area safe. There are about 50 of them, and they live in the basement of the Presidential Palace. I sat down with a few of them, a team of four, to get a taste of what it means to be one of them. And I learned this: the Marine Corps is a family.
The men I spoke with are all between ages 19 and 23, and all single, though the one from Rhode Island has a girlfriend. When the topic of girlfriends rises, the other three give him a hard time, something he’s obviously accustomed to by now.
I can tell these four guys are close. They are all part of a group of five who are on the same guard schedule. When I indicate my assumption that this must be why they are so close, one of them replies, “Ma’am, if anyone of the 50 Marines down here walked into a dark room, I could sniff and tell you who it is.”
These men don’t just share a job . . . they are brothers.
There was something about these four that reminded me of that bad joke that John Kerry tried to cover up a few months ago — the one about young people who don’t study hard enough ending up in Iraq.
Let me say this. I have never met more impressive, intelligent, respectful, honorable, funny, handsome men in my life. These young men are the best America has to offer. They are not washouts, dropouts or losers. And, while their peers are back home beer-bonging at a frat party, these young men are on the rise as leaders.
They keep their living quarters cleaner than my grandmother’s house and they bear the burden of ensuring safekeeping of the people who live in the Green Zone.
These men make me proud to be American.
And while the four I met utter not a word of complaint — aside from the fact that they need more beef jerky — they are making sacrifices. I try to get them to talk about these sacrifices, and they really won’t have it.
They talk about their fellow Marines who are fighting in more dangerous areas, under fire daily. They feel guilty because they are in a relatively safe place. But they know their time will come.
Today they protect their fellow Americans — the people who live and work at the embassy in Baghdad.
But they look forward to that day when they can take their turn protecting Iraqis from the bloodshed that has driven a stake into the heart of Iraq.
It is a timeless honor to sacrifice for our countrymen, but I wonder how many of us are so eager to live a life of sacrifice for people not our own, for people of a foreign land.
When I direct the conversation to thoughts of home, I get a reaction I’m not expecting. Talk of family is usually the one thing that gets people talking about sacrifice. Missing home and loved ones is maybe the hardest part of the tour of duty.
These four love their families, and they talk about the things they look forward to about home: barbecue on the beach, sleeping late and letting mom wait on them, the food (this came from the Italian boy, of course), and girls.
But they all agree on something that shocks me. When they go home on leave, they can’t wait to get back to their brothers. When they are home, they call back to the unit, missing their fellow Marines.
My small mind fails to comprehend how a group of young men can bond so seamlessly — more tightly than many siblings. These men would die for each other in a heartbeat. I pray not one of them is forced to make such a noble choice. But I have no doubt each one of them would happily lay down his life for his friend.
These men are Marines. They are family.
This article appeared in the October 23rd eddition of the Plainview Daily Herald written by a young woman named Terah Kay who is currently in Iraq. Terah is a graduate of Abilene Christian University and received her juris doctorate from the Texas Tech University School of Law last May.
This column is the latest in her series. I encourage you to read the rest. They are all excellent.
Terah Kay: Just below bananas 09-06-2007
Terah Kay column: Angry words demoralizing 10-07-2007
Terah Kay column: Tea time in the ladies’ room 10-04-2007
Terah Kay column: America’s defenders making tremendous sacrifices 09-18-2007
Terah Kay column: Reality of Fear 09-17-2007
Terah Kay Column: Going for a ride in the Red Zone 09-16-2007
Terah Kay: Duck and cover 09-11-2007
Terah Kay column: Observing Ramadan can keep you free 10-11-2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We had a great meeting Tuesday night, so I have lots to update you on.
First I want to let you know about the thank you cards that we are doing for Veterans Day. We are hoping to collect 200 thank you cards for the local VA clinic to hand out during the week prior to Veterans Day. If you want to participate just let me know and I'll get all the details to you. We are also planning to "adopt" a vet family for Christmas. We'll let you know more on that soon too. It is so important that our vets know that we appreciate the sacrifices they have made to keep us free and that they will never be forgotten.
The collections for our Christmas care packs are coming along very well. We hope to have everything collected by November 19th so that we can get it sorted in time for our packing party on December 1st. If you want to see the list of items we are collecting and drop off locations, click here. Also remember that we still have our contest going on.
Our new shipment of cookbooks is here. The first shipment sold out quickly. They make great Christmas gifts and we use the proceeds to pay for shipping all these care packs.
Thanks for all your support!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Posted : Wednesday Oct 24, 2007 7:06:51 EDT
BAGHDAD — October is on course to record the second consecutive decline in U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths and Americans commanders say they know why: the U.S. troop increase and an Iraqi groundswell against al-Qaida and Shiite militia extremists.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch points to what the military calls “Concerned Citizens” — both Shiites and Sunnis who have joined the American fight. He says he’s signed up 20,000 of them in the last four months.
“I’ve never been more optimistic than I am right now with the progress we’ve made in Iraq. The only people who are going to win this counterinsurgency project are the people of Iraq. We’ve said that all along. And now they’re coming forward in masses,” Lynch said in a recent interview at a U.S. base deep in hostile territory south of Baghdad. Outgoing artillery thundered as he spoke.
Lynch, who commands the 3rd Infantry Division and once served as the military spokesman in Baghdad, is a tireless cheerleader of the American effort in Iraq. But the death toll over the past two months appears to reinforce his optimism. The question is, of course: Will it last?
As of Tuesday, the Pentagon has reported 28 U.S. military deaths. At the current pace, the monthly total will be about 37 or 38. That would be the lowest total since 31 in March 2006 and the second lowest monthly toll stretching back to February 2004, when 20 soldiers died.
In September, 65 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq.
Part of the trend can be seen in a volatile and violent band of lush agricultural land on Baghdad’s southern border.
The commander of the battle zone — Lt. Col. Val Keaveny, 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne) — said his unit has lost only one soldier in the past four months despite intensified operations against both Shiite and Sunni extremists, including powerful al-Qaida in Iraq cells.
Keaveny attributes the startling decline to a decrease in attacks by militants who are being rounded up in big numbers on information provided by the citizen force — which has literally doubled the number of eyes and ears available to the military.
The efforts to recruit local partners began taking shape earlier this year in the western province of Anbar, which had become the virtual heartland for Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida bands. The early successes in Anbar led to similar alliances in other parts of Iraq.
“People are fed up with fear, intimidation and being brutalized. Once they hit that tipping point, they’re fed up, they come to realized we truly do provide them better hope for the future. What we’re seeing now is the beginning of a snowball,” said Keaveny, whose forces operate out of Forward Operating Base Kalsu, about 35 miles south of Baghdad.
While U.S. death figures appear to be in sharp decline, the number of Iraqi civilians and security forces show a less dramatic drop. And any significant attack — by insurgents or civilians caught in the crossfire — could quickly wipe out the downward trend.
The current pace of civilian deaths would put October at less than 900. The figure last month was 1,023 and for August, 1,956, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press from government reports, hospitals and police. Other tallies differ and some have given higher civilian death tolls.
While the decline in deaths is notable, it is only one of many measures of potential progress in Iraq, said Anthony Cordesman, a former Pentagon analyst now with the private Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
Cordesman said a more balanced picture needs to include factors such as wounded civilians and soldiers and the number of people fleeing their homes. The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday that between 1,000 and 2,000 Iraqis still leave their homes each day for safer havens in the country or in neighboring nations. “It’s just been going up slowly,” said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Astrid van Genderen Stort in Geneva.
“The numbers we’re dealing with here are only major acts of violence, the number of times people are killed,” said Cordesman. “This is certainly progress ... but it has to be put in perspective.”
Lynch’s mission also shows the slow pace of reclaiming areas from militants. His troops and their new local allies must work town by town, village by village.
Sunni Sheik Emad Ghurtani is among those helping.
“Honestly, I’m not going to hide this from you,” Ghurtani told Lynch as the two stood talking at a newly established tribal check point near Haswa, a village just north of the Kalsu base.
“There is some al-Qaida here in this area. But, God willing, we will get rid of them. ... The citizens are coming out. They’re not afraid any more,” the tall and handsome tribal leader said. Three scruffy young men watched, AK47s slung over their shoulders, in the sandbag bunker at the check point.
Lynch, hatless on the balmy autumn day, answered in staccato sentences.
“What we really need is information. You know where al-Qaida is. You know who they are. You have to tell us. We can use all our capabilities to take out the enemy. But you have to tell us where they are, because you know. You’ve got our total support.”
The sheik, who made Lynch promise to return for lunch one day, responded with striking eloquence.
“Because of what the American forces have accomplished, instead of us moving step by step we’re going to start running toward the enemy. ... Instead of walking, we’re going to start running now. We just need the weapons and ammunition,” Ghurtani said.
The guard force at the checkpoint changed during the conversation. Three young men barely out of their teens, ancient Kalashnikovs in hand, strolled town the dirt road that led back into Ghurtani territory. Their U.S.-provided uniforms are a vest with a reflective orange band akin to what road crews wear in the U.S.
Ghurtani complained they hadn’t been paid the $100 a month the Americans had promised.
“If I get some of the money they need I can get them shoes, some vests and some ammunition. If they can find me cheap weapons, we can start getting these men ready. God willing in the next few days,” the sheik said.
Most heartening, Lynch said, was the checkpoint just across the road and over an irrigation canal. It was run by Shiites.
Lynch said the checkpoints on opposite sides of the road highlighted a kind of reconciliation by necessity: not fighting each other but protecting themselves from a common enemy.
“The have to be convinced that we’re not leaving. That’s the issue. If they were to think we’re leaving we’d have also sorts of trouble,” Lynch said, clambering over a makeshift earthen bridge across the canal.
The local Shiite sheik wasn’t at the checkpoint.
He was in a hospital recovering from injuries in a car crash. Two ragtag fellows in their 20s stood up from their sandbag bunker and told Lynch they needed money to buy weapons. “Al-Qaida has all kinds of weapons. We just have these old rifles,” one of them said pointing to his dilapidated Kalashnikov.
“OK. We just continue to work together to get you the money so you can buy better weapons, better ammunition, uniforms. Improve your checkpoint. We just have to work together,” Lynch said, spinning on his heel and marching back to his nine-Humvee convoy.
On to Haswa, down a road known for Iranian-made roadside bombs, a Kiowa gunship clattered protectively above. Back at division headquarters, public affairs officers were hammering out more press statements about how Concerned Citizens were leading soldiers to militant weapons caches and turning in extremist fighters.
JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — They gently brushed their fingertips across the stone where the names of the men who died on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1983 are engraved.
On Tuesday, families and friends gathered around the Beirut Memorial here once again to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the day terrorists drove a bomb-laden truck into the headquarters building for the Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers.
The crowd — filled with an assortment of Marines, sailors, airmen, soldiers, mothers, fathers, wives, children and survivors of the blast — looked toward the wall as speakers talked about that fateful day.
Maj. Gen. Robert Dickerson, commander of Marine Corps Installations-East and the ceremony’s guest speaker, told the story of one survivor, Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Nashton, who was fighting for his life on a hospital bed in Germany when he and other survivors were visited by then-Commandant Gen. P.X. Kelley.
Nashton could not see or speak and could barely hear. When Kelley knelt by his bedside, Nashton reached out a hand and brushed his fingers over the general’s star-collared shirt.
Nashton signaled he wanted to write something. He was handed a pen and paper and scribbled two words — “Semper Fi” — before handing the paper to Kelley, Dickerson said.
“Jeffrey feels guilty, as many of you do today, that he survived,” Dickerson said. “Don’t feel guilty. It’s your memory. It’s their legacy you’re maintaining.”
Dickerson rattled off a long list of terrorist attacks dating back to November 1979, when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was taken over by militants. He spoke of various embassy attacks throughout the years, the bombing of the Cole and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“The lessons learned in Beirut are relevant today,” Dickerson said. “These cowards are still out there. These cowards — these terrorists — are global. And they fear democracy.”
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
MCRD (Recruit Depot) San Diego
Please join us for our meeting tonight at 7:00 PM. We'll be meeting at Family Counseling Services.
Here are the directions to the meeting: Go to 50th and Ave Q and turn South onto Avenue Q like you are headed towards the strip. After you travel a few blocks, turn right onto Briercroft Office Park Road. It is the small street after the Avenue P light. Look for building #22 and we'll be in Suite #10.
Show a veteran or active duty service member how much you care.
Anyone you know who has proudly served our great nation or is currently serving today — deserves all the honor and respect we can give them.
You can see their name online when PVA ‘erects’ the 2007 Wall of Honor on November 7th as part of their Veterans Day 2007 ceremonies.
When NASA launches the space shuttle Discovery today, the man piloting the craft will be Marine Corps Col. George D. Zamka, making his first spaceflight.
Liftoff of the seven-member crew is scheduled for Tuesday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., according to an Army press release, though inclement weather may delay the planned 11:38 a.m. launch.
The mission will deliver an Italian-built connecting module to the station.
According to a NASA biography, Zamka graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1984. He trained on the A-6E Intruder at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., and was assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, Calif., where he was a Squadron Weapons and Tactics instructor. In 1990, he trained as an F/A-18 pilot and was then assigned to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121. Zamka flew 66 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. In 1993, he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calif., as a forward air controller. In 1994, he graduated from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, later serving as an F/A-18 Hornet test pilot and operations officer.
In 1998, he returned to VMFA (AW)-121 and deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
Two other service members will be onboard the shuttle. Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy will command the mission and Army Col. Douglas H. Wheelock will serve as mission specialist.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Remember that we still have the Christmas donation drive contest going on to win a cookbook and a BBQ apron. Your name will be entered in the contest for each $5 donation that you make toward our care pack shipping expenses. So far, Don has a big lead on everyone. His name has been entered LOTS of times! Thanks Don!!!
You can donate through the Paypal link in the sidebar or you can email me and I will give you an address so that you can mail a check. If you stop by and leave a donation to our account at American State Bank, just email me with your name and donation amount. The deadline for the contest is 5:00p.m. November 9th. I will have one of the Marines at the Marine Corps Ball draw the name and I will announce it here on the blog Saturday November 10th. Good luck!
Please join us for our October meeting Tuesday, October 22nd at 7:00PM. We will be meeting at Family Counseling Services located at 22 Briercroft Office Park, Suite #10. We'll be discussing our Christmas carepack drive, cookbook sales, November officer elections, and Operation Enduring Hope. Our meetings are open to the public and anyone who is interested in helping with our various projects is welcome to attend.
Courtesy of Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff / Army An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Powers' helmet, above his cheekbone. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supplied blood to his brain's right side.
By Patrick Winn - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 22, 2007 9:13:35 EDT
It felt like a nasty sucker punch. Yet when he strained his eyes to the hard right, there was something that didn’t belong: the pewter-colored contour of a knife handle jutting from his skull.
Sgt. Dan Powers, stabbed in the head by an insurgent on the streets of East Baghdad, triggered a modern miracle of military medicine, logistics, technology and air power.
See Sgt. Powers’ surgery
His survival relied on the Army’s top vascular neurosurgeon guiding Iraq-based U.S. military physicians via laptop, the Air Force’s third nonstop medical evacuation from Central Command to America, and the best physicians Bethesda National Naval Medical Center in Maryland could offer.
It required extraordinary hustle from a string of ground medics, air medics, C-17 pilots, jet refuel technicians and more. Not an hour after the attack, Powers, a squad leader with the Army’s 118th Military Police Company, was draped in sheets on a medical gurney bound for Balad Air Force Base, about 30 minutes away by helicopter.
Someone pressed a phone to his left ear so he could promise his wife, in a panic worlds away, that everything would be fine. He would soon drench a surgeon’s hands in blood, narrowly surviving as a medical team opened his skull to extract 4 inches of blade from his brain.
These are the staggering measures that allowed Powers to keep his promise and his life.
East Baghdad is a crumbling maze. Narrow lanes form stucco canyons that block out sunlight. A grimy film seems to blacken every surface: the facades, cobbled footpaths and street urchins’ faces. Lines of sight end at each bend in the street, and the windows overhead look down like hundreds of eyes.
“It’s just very slummy, with all these twisty alleyways,” said Powers, now 39. “It’s a nightmare to patrol.”
A 12-year Army vet on his second deployment to East Baghdad, Powers spent his days training local police and trying to keep peace in a fortified cityscape. Soldiers in his 13-man squad would cruise the city’s oldest quarter with Iraqi officers conducting street-level investigations and responding to gunfire or explosions.
Nothing was different July 3 — at least not at first.
Powers was dispatched from Forward Operating Base Shield to a stretch of bomb-charred road. Explosive ordnance disposal personnel were already huddled over a blast site near Beirut Square on one of the district’s wider thoroughfares. The explosion seemed minor — no flaming vehicles, at least — so Powers and a team leader, Sgt. Michael Riley, were mostly concerned with warding off pedestrians.
Powers was walking away from the cordoned area when it hit him — a near-knockout blow that felt like a “clothesline tackle,” he said. But Powers stayed on his feet, spun around and slammed his raven-haired assailant to the asphalt, prodding the skinny Iraqi man’s face with his M4 barrel. Riley, his squad mate, pounced and detained the assailant.
“I remember being pretty pissed off,” Powers recalled to Air Force Times. Adrenaline throbbed in his veins and blood soaked his shoulder. A medic, Spc. Ryan Webb with the 118th Military Police, was tugging at his arm, demanding that he “sit down, calm down and leave the knife in.”
The knife? What knife?
“They said, ‘You’re stabbed’ and ... I remember seeing the handle,” Powers said. “There was no pain because the brain has no pain sensory nerves. It was all surface, like someone punched me in the head.”
Powers stayed conscious as soldiers carried him to a Humvee, sped to Forward Operating Base Shield and, after medics bandaged his head in clumps of cottony gauze, shuttled the sergeant to Baghdad’s Green Zone.
Stabbings of American military personnel in Iraq or Afghanistan are extremely rare, outnumbered by drownings, strokes, cancer, drug overdoses and electrocutions. According to Defense Department casualty reports, Powers is only the second service member stabbed while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
They spoke through the roaring chukka-chukka of rotating chopper blades.
Moments before medics slid Powers into a helicopter en route to Balad, his wife, Trudy, was patched through on a cell phone. A soldier held it to Powers’ face as his gurney rolled across the Green Zone helipad.
“I was adamant they put him on the phone to prove he was alive,” Trudy Powers said. “He sounded like his regular old self. ‘I’ll be all right, hon. I’ll be all right.’”
Powers soon arrived at the Balad hospital, a cutting-edge facility rivaling many American treatment centers. One of Iraq’s few military neurosurgeons, Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Richard Teff, remembers Powers lying supine on a gurney, wide awake and speaking. Medical personnel crowded his stretcher, asking questions and filming his answers.
“His head was wrapped up with big, bulky bandages,” Teff said, “like the people transporting him were afraid the knife would get bumped or dislodge.”
It was less than two hours since the attack.
Balad’s head and neck team was accustomed to gory head wounds, skulls split by bullets and IED-borne shrapnel. But Powers’ injury “had to be the most amazing thing anyone in the room had ever seen,” Teff said. An X-ray revealed that the knife entered just below Powers’ helmet, above his cheekbone, “skating right along the base of the cavity we call the temporal fossa, where the temporal lobe of your brain lives,” Teff said. It also penetrated his cavernous sinus, where a bundle of veins supply blood to the brain’s right side.
After Powers was shaved and anesthetized, Teff and fellow neurosurgeon Army Maj. (Dr.) John Martin peeled back Powers’ scalp, skull and meninges — a pinkish layer coating the brain’s surface. Steel barbs resembling fish hooks held back walls of tissue the color of raw pork.
Teff and Martin hit a crossroads. They could riskily retract the brain to isolate and clamp the artery in his cavernous sinus. Or Teff could cross his fingers and pull.
“Any time you have a penetrating stab to the head,” he said, “the biggest concern is what’s going to happen when you pull [the knife] out.”
“He started bleeding like crazy, enough to make everyone in the room worry he might die,” Teff said.
The doctors scrambled to find the nicked carotid artery. Plastic air hoses sucked out pint after pint of hot blood. Finally, they clamped the artery and relief washed over the medical team as the bleeding stopped. Though Powers had lost about 2 liters of blood — roughly two-fifths of his body’s total volume — the most dangerous part of the operation was over.
Through personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Teff relayed details and photos of Powers’ surgery to Lt. Col. Rocco Armonda, one the Army’s most skilled vascular neurosurgeons. There was no precedent for Powers’ condition in Iraq, and the head and neck team needed guidance.
Contacted in his vehicle, Armonda pulled over in Washington traffic, reviewed the images on his laptop and shot back a response: Close the guy up and get him to Bethesda. Now.
Capt. Corbett Bufton, an aircraft commander with the Charleston-based “Red 7” aircrew, was incredulous at first. Awaiting takeoff from Al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, his airmen had expected to carry two Stryker anti-tank missile carriers to another airfield within Central Command — a job typical of their intratheater transportation role.
But the operations center was telling him to change planes, directing him toward a different C-17 Globemaster, one with a plus-sized fuel tank. Red 7, the center said, would be picking up a severely injured soldier from Balad to fly him nonstop to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., just outside Washington.
“Our initial reaction was, ‘I don’t believe you,’” Bufton said. “Nobody goes to Andrews Air Force Base from Balad.”
Once the disbelief faded, Bufton sent a few guys to the barracks to scoop up extra clothes.
“It looked like we’d be gone for a couple days,” he said.
After landing at Balad, the loadmaster, Staff Sgt. Matthew Nemeth, began readying the aircraft for a medical evacuation. They briefed him on the details: one guy with a knife in his head, another soldier with a gunshot wound to the neck added at the last minute. A seven-person medical crew expected to board soon. Keep down the turbulence and restrict the cabin pressure to 4,000 feet.
“I’ve never seen it that low before,” Bufton said. “That restricted our flight ops to about 26,000 feet, which unfortunately keeps us down in the weather.” At the time, thunderstorms blanketed the skies of eastern Europe along the flight path.
Bufton, with augmenting air refueling pilot Lt. Col. Jesse Strickland and pilots Capt. Justin Herbst and Capt. Scot Frechette, kept the C-17’s engine idling as the Air Force medical crew rolled Powers, the other wounded soldier and 7,000 pounds of lifesaving equipment up the ramp.
On the ground, a diplomatic clearance shop was frantically clearing their flight through roughly a dozen countries: Iraq, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, England and others.
Once airborne, Red 7’s pilots steered the hulking C-17 around turbulent rain clouds as medical personnel tended to Powers in the naked, metallic cabin. Tubes and wiring snaked the floor. Near the British Isles, a KC-135 Stratotanker leaving RAF Mildenhall joined Red 7’s jet for a mid-Atlantic refueling.
Over the Atlantic, it was Independence Day.
And as the C-17 rushed westward ahead of the rising sun, Nemeth helped the medical crew tack American flags on the walls and catwalk.
The C-17 touched down lightly at Andrews after a 13-hour flight. Powers and the other soldier were hurried to Bethesda. And members of Red 7, suffering in Iraq’s convection oven heat when they began their shift, stepped off the C-17 into D.C.’s balmy summer. The next morning, they flew into Dover Air Force Base, Del., picked up 17 pallets of cargo and headed back to Qatar.
“I’ve probably done two or three dozen medevacs in my career,” Nemeth said. “This one is probably the most significant, the most profound.”
At Bethesda, a neurosurgical team guided by Armonda coiled Powers’ carotid artery and performed a cranioplasty on his dented skull. Trudy Powers met frequently with the surgeons, insisting each time on the raw truth.
“Don’t think I can’t handle it,” she told them.
Initially, they feared Powers, still in critical condition, could wake up with severe paralysis, brain damage and lost eyesight. But when the soldier surfaced after four comatose days, a battery of tests proved the stabbing had not robbed his intelligence or memory. Only his balance was badly skewed.
“It was like a dream because of all the stuff they had me on,” Powers said. “A face came in and said, ‘Do you know where you are?’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was the best place I could possibly be. The president goes there, all the chiefs and Congress.”
Powers was released from Bethesda just a month later and allowed to return to his house roughly 30 miles from Fort Bragg, N.C. After months of physical therapy, physicians now believe his coordination is largely restored. Pending the success of a follow-up skull repair in January, Powers hopes to rejoin his unit as a squad leader before May.
“Certainly there have been bigger injuries, uglier, more devastating injuries,” Teff said. “What makes this unique is how huge the knife was, how well neurologically he’s doing and the drama involved in getting him back.”
Back at Fort Bragg
The package’s return address read “BALAD AIR BASE, IRAQ.” Trudy Powers, standing with her husband in their home, was tearful, trembling and mortified by the contents she expected to find inside.
Out plopped a hunk of stainless steel resembling a flea market dagger.
“I didn’t need to see that,” she said.
Army judge advocate general prosecutors later asked if they could have it. Powers didn’t mind. Iraqi prosecutors wanted to present the 9-inch blade as evidence during his attacker’s trial in Baghdad, which admitted Powers’ testimony via teleconference. He’s unsure of the man’s fate, though he was told the Iraqis planned to “lengthen his neck a little bit.”
Powers acknowledges that his survival tale, circulating within the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, is “the stuff they make movies out of.” But the soldier in him bristles at the notoriety — or the suggestion that he’s some kind of hero.
In his version of the story, the Army, Navy and Air Force moved the world to save one man’s life.
And he’s just some guy who got stabbed in the brain.
Another survivor’s story: “No way I’m going to let this guy die”
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Once you go to the site, there is a place that you can look for a photographer near you. I have looked and there is one photographer in the Lubbock area.
Check out the site at www.oplove.org .
The SemperComm Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity founded to boost the morale of U.S. military personnel stationed at small, overseas remote bases by providing them with free communications and entertainment equipment, software and services.
Military Phone Card Donation Program
The Department of Defense announced today that any American can now help troops in contingency operations call home. The Defense Department has authorized the Armed Services Exchanges to sell prepaid calling cards to any individual or organization that wishes to purchase cards for troops who are deployed. The Help Our Troops Call Home program is designed to help service members call home from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Skype Internet Calls
AT&T Global Prepaid calling cards
Recharging the AT&T prepaid card
SPAWAR Calling Cards
US Navy, US Army & Air Force personnel co-located with US Marines are now eligible to receive MotoMails
Friday, October 19, 2007
Posted : Friday Oct 19, 2007 8:24:02 EDT
Finally, a reason for both conservative and liberal Marines to appreciate Rush Limbaugh: Children of Marines stand to receive more than $850,000 for a letter — put up for auction on eBay — that was sent to conservative talk show host Limbaugh’s boss. Signed by 41 U.S. senators, the letter asks that Limbaugh receive a public reprimand for his comments on air last month about “phony soldiers.”
The letter was sent Oct. 2 to Mark Mays, the chief executive officer of Clear Channel Communications Inc. — the parent company of Limbaugh’s show — by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. In it, Reid said Limbaugh disparaged soldiers who opposed the war by calling them “phony.”
Presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama were among the senators who signed the letter.
Limbaugh said the senators misinterpreted his comments, which were instead directed at soldiers who falsify their military records — such as Jesse McBeth, who was sentenced to five months in jail for filing for $10,000 worth of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs even though he didn’t finish basic training.
Limbaugh chose the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, a charity that awards scholarships to children of Marines and federal law-enforcement personnel who die on duty, to receive the entire winning bid, which stood at $851,100 at 5 p.m. Thursday.
Limbaugh is an active board member with the foundation and has mentioned it many times on his show, helping to generate donations across the country, said Agostino Von Hassell, a member of the charity for more than 15 years.
“It’s a very nice chunk of change that will help a lot of children,” Von Hassell said.
The auction was announced Oct. 11 at a speech in Philadelphia by Limbaugh, during which he displayed the letter after taking it out of a titanium briefcase handcuffed to a security agent. The opening bid on the letter was $100 Monday morning.
The auction ends Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern time. The winner will receive the letter, the titanium briefcase, a picture of Limbaugh with the letter and a thank you letter from the talk show host.
Limbaugh challenged each senator who signed the letter to match the winning bid. A call to Reid’s office for comment was not returned by press time.
*Last time I looked the bidding was at $2,100,100.00 with a little over an hour and a half left in the bidding. Wow!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Oct. 12, 2007; Submitted on: 10/17/2007 04:33:52 PM ;
MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON (Oct. 12, 2007) -- Everything is bigger in Texas, as the saying goes, so when the organizers of the State Fair of Texas needed a military musical unit, they called one of the biggest and best known – The U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.“The Commandant’s Own,” making its 42nd annual appearance, answered the call and performed at the State Fair of Texas, in Dallas, Sept. 28 through Oct. 12.The grand opening for the biggest fair in the country began with a parade on Main Street, with the Drum and Bugle Corps leading the way. The unit marched past magnificent skyscrapers and sidewalks lined with enthusiastic crowds. Along the way, they played hallmark songs of the Marine Corps, such as the “Marines’ Hymn” and the official march of the Marines, “Semper Fidelis.”“They don’t even flinch,” said Klyde Knudson, an Army veteran of World War II and the Korean War. “I get tears in my eyes when I see the precision of these Marines.” Once the opening day parade was complete the Drum and Bugle Corps continued on to the fair grounds where they would perform throughout the next two weeks. The Marines in their red dress uniforms began each day with a march under the blistering heat of the Texas sun to Marine Corps Square. The Drum and Bugle Corps’ cadence echoed throughout the fair grounds on their way to play concerts at the square. At the site, located on the west side of the fair, just over 1,000 patriotic fans came each day to see the Marines in action.During each performance, “The Commandant’s Own” played a large variety of songs that include classics, such as the official march of the United States, “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” by John Phillip Sousa and present day popular music heard in movies and on the radio.For Jeannie Bush, a native of Dallas, she thought the modern songs played, such as James Blunt’s “Your Beautiful,” were great. However, it was the patriotic songs she held closest to her heart.“I get excited because it’s not everyday we see Marines in Texas,” Bush said. “Songs like the national anthem and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” remind me of all those who are fighting to keep our nation safe.”Midway through each performance, Chief Warrant Officer Brian Dix, the director of “The Commandant’s Own,” would educate the crowd about the history of the Marine Corps and the unit.“What are those badges you’re wearing?” asked a member of the audience.“They’re not badges, they’re medals,” said the smiling Dix, creating an uproar of laughter among those in attendance. “Unit citations go over the right side and personal decorations over the heart,” he said. For being good sports, the audience members were awarded a CD with music of the Drum and Bugle Corps. “Come on and let these Marines know what a Texas audience sounds like!” Dix would say, and without hesitation, the audience would rise and let out a deafening applause.Upon completion of each concert, the Marines marched to the Hall of State, a National Historic Place that commemorates the rich history of the Lone Star State, for Evening Retreat. The patriotic people of Texas never failed to stand proudly and place their hand over their hearts in respect of the national anthem and the retirement of the colors each day. After Evening Retreat, the unit took its rightful place leading the Starlight Parade. The parade passed some of the most symbolic features on the grounds, including the Cotton Bowl, North America’s tallest ferris wheel, standing at 212 feet, and the birthplace of the corny dog. In 1961, Jim Skinner, the director of special events, invited “The Commandant’s Own” to open the fair and enjoyed the Marines so much, he fought to get them back to the grounds. In 1965, his persistence was rewarded when the Drum and Bugle Corps came back and was back to stay!“I think they are an outstanding unit that reflects well to the Marine Corps,” said Ray Landin, retired Marine Chief Warrant Officer 4 and the current director of special events. “We never have anything to worry about with the Marines. They consistently come out here and give the audience the same great performance each day.”With the hard work of the U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps each day, the unit helped make the State Fair of Texas special for all those who came to watch. The people of Texas showed the Marines with their big applauses how much they appreciate and value their service to their country.
And here's a great video about the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
By John Hoellwarth - Staff writerSource
Posted : Sunday Oct 14, 2007 9:39:00 EDT
The Corps’ MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft will crash eventually, and Marines will die. That much is certain. The same can be said of virtually every aircraft in the military inventory.
Marine officials conceded the point in the wake of an eight-page Oct. 8 cover story in Time magazine titled “A Flying Shame.” The article highlighted the Osprey’s checkered past and called into question the capability, safety, economy and wisdom of fielding an aircraft that hovers like a helicopter and flies like a plane on the eve of its combat debut in Iraq.
It’s “silly” to expect the Osprey to be the military’s first crash-proof aircraft, said Col. Glenn Walters, a former Osprey squadron commander and pilot now serving as head of the Corps’ aviation plans, programs and budget branch.
The Time article describes how “narrow interests” kept the Osprey alive in Congress despite schedule and cost overruns throughout its 25-year development. It tells how specifications were modified — and eliminated — as the prototypes failed to meet them. Ultimately, the article says the Corps is putting Marines’ lives in “jeopardy” by putting them in the Osprey.
But what the article leaves out, said senior Marine leaders, civilian and military aviation experts, a Washington think tank and at least one of the “critics” quoted by Time, is the aircraft’s true status.
In an official letter to the magazine dated Oct. 1 and obtained by Marine Corps Times, Assistant Commandant Gen. Robert Magnus wrote that reporter Mark Thompson’s story “serves up a one-sided, sensationalistic view of the program, full of inaccuracies, and misleading to Time’s readers.”
“It is sad that Time’s story failed to include the fact that in the past six years, the [Osprey] program had the most extensive technical and programmatic review in the history of aircraft,” Magnus wrote. “The cover and the story, including dated material, was neither balanced nor accurate.”
The Corps’ top spokesman, Brig. Gen. Robert Milstead, himself a Marine aviator, called the story “old whine in a new bottle.”
Attempts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful. An automated response generated by his e-mail account said he was on leave until Oct. 15. Daniel Kile, a spokesman for the magazine, said, “Time stands behind the story.”
Meanwhile, the critics are having a field day with the piece, deconstructing its assertions point-by-point on blogs, in newsletters and even in an official “information paper” prepared by Marine officials. The question on many minds is, simply, do Thompson and Time magazine fully understand the mission and purpose of this new kind of aircraft?
Lack of autorotation
Take, for instance, the lack of an autorotation capability. If a helicopter loses its engines and begins to fall, the upward push of air on the unpowered rotor blades keeps them spinning fast enough to bring the bird down in a jarring, but survivable, landing. This autorotation is a standard requirement for helicopters. But the Osprey can’t do it, which Time considered a flaw.
But as Marine officials note, the Osprey is not a helicopter.
The hybrid, “though worse at autorotation than most helicopters, also has a glide landing capability that no helicopter possesses,” wrote Maj. Eric Dent, the Corps’ aviation spokesman, in an information paper about “inaccuracies” in Time’s article.
The Osprey has unusually thick wings, which give the aircraft lift at very low air speeds and allow it to glide at speeds as low as 40 knots. A hovering Osprey doesn’t need to fully convert to airplane mode to leverage this advantage. A small tilt on the nacelles does the trick, allowing the bird to glide to the ground as well as, if not better than, other fixed-wing aircraft, Walters said.
The autorotation wording was dropped from the requirement in 2004, when Corps officials changed it to say only that the Osprey must perform a survivable emergency landing in the event both engines are lost.
Time described the change as a failure by engineers to rewrite the laws of physics.
There’s also the issue of defensive weaponry. The Ospreys that press reports say are now operating in Iraq, all with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263, are equipped with M240G medium machine guns pointed out the back ramp, ready to spray hundreds of 7.62mm bullets into a hot landing zone.
Retired Gen. James Jones, former commandant of the Marine Corps, told Time he’d always wanted the Osprey to have a forward-mounted gun, a .50-caliber under the nose — something he never pulled off as the Corps’ top Marine.
Jones thinks all assault support aircraft should have forward-facing weaponry, according to the article. He described it to Time as a fundamental belief stemming from his Vietnam War experience: Biggest and baddest is best. A spokesman from Jones’ office said the retired general was unavailable to comment for this article.
The Time article quoted Jones as saying, “A rear-mounted gun is better than no gun at all, but I don’t know how much better.”
But Walters said the Osprey’s rear machine gun is the same weapon system the Corps has in every assault support aircraft, none of which has guns facing forward.
Over the past five years, side gunners firing from CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan “found that most of the threat was on the ramp,” Walters said.
He said Jones wasn’t the only Marine to stand by a forward gun on principle.
“It’s an emotional issue for a lot of people,” Walters said. “I can come up with a scenario where it would be valuable, but we haven’t seen it in five years of combat.”
That doesn’t necessarily rule out more firepower in the future, though. The Marine Corps has allocated funds to pursue a forward-firing, “all-quadrant gun,” Walters said.
A prototype of such a weapon was displayed last week at the Modern Day Marine Expo in Quantico, Va. That weapon, the Remote Guardian System developed by international defense contractor BAE Systems, could be hard-wired into the Osprey’s avionics and deliver accurate, sustained fire throughout the entire flight envelope, according to a corporate release.
The Time article also said a 2006 incident — described by military officials as an uncontrolled takeoff — was the apparent result of a computer glitch that caused an Osprey to rise 25 feet into the air “on its own” before crashing back to earth. The article goes on to cite the example as just one in a series of problems throughout the Osprey’s development, including a “flawed computer chip” and “bad switches.”
But Corps officials insist the 2006 incident had nothing to do with computer malfunction. It was a maintenance mistake, Dent said.
“Two wires were accidentally cross-connected when reinstalled after maintenance,” he said. “There was neither a design problem, nor a software glitch.”
But that’s not to say the Osprey hasn’t had performance problems.
“Nobody has ever sent an aircraft that combines the characteristics of an airplane and a helicopter into combat before, so of course you’re going to have development challenges that you wouldn’t encounter on a more conventional airframe,” said Loren Thompson, vice president of the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank. Thompson, who is no relation to Time’s reporter, has followed the Osprey program closely over the years and posted a scathing rebuttal to the Time piece on Lexington’s Web site.
“Whatever you may think about the way the Marine Corps has gone about developing the [Osprey], the notion that it would deliberately field a dangerous or an inadequate airplane is simply preposterous,” he said.
A report from the Defense Department’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation in 2000 found the Osprey operationally effective but not operationally suitable, according to Time. Walters said that the article doesn’t mention, however, the August 2005 report by the same office that gives the Osprey thumbs up in both columns.
“You could have written that article in 2003,” Walters said of the Time piece. “It didn’t acknowledge the really good work that has happened over the last four or five years.”
In a blog about his appearance in the article, Military.com editor Ward Carroll, who spent three years as the Osprey’s spokesman, wrote that Time sensationalized his concern that as many as six aircraft might crash during the Osprey’s first year in combat.
Carroll wrote that he spent a half-hour on the phone with Time’s Mark Thompson talking about the aircraft’s potential, “including my belief that the airplane really could change everything in terms of how the Marine Corps fights.”
“Thompson left out the part where I indicated my support and hopes for VMM-263’s success and resultantly I am presented as a ‘critic,’ ” he wrote. “That’s what I get for attempting a complete thought with a reporter who’s reverse-engineering a story.”
Carroll — who wrote that the article’s title, “A Flying Shame,” is “a pretty good indication of the writer’s thesis” — isn’t alone in taking umbrage at the story.
“The article goes over issues that are old, long-since addressed, and it is a fundamentally inaccurate assessment of the [Osprey],” said Jack Satterfield, program spokesman for Osprey manufacturer Boeing.
Walters expressed disappointment over negative attention caused by inaccuracies published in Time, which circulates more than 3 million copies weekly, because he doubts whether vindication will be as public.
“The first time this thing picks up a wounded soldier or Marine and gets him the medical attention that saves his life because of speed and range, you’ll never hear about it,” he said.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Oct 11, 2007 17:20:59 EDT
SAN DIEGO — Two years after his death in a harrowing firefight on an Afghanistan mountaintop, Lt. Michael Murphy, a Navy SEAL officer from Long Island, N.Y., will be bestowed with the nation’s highest combat honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, Navy officials said.
Lt. Ligia Cohen, a Navy spokeswoman at the Pentagon, confirmed the award.
The announcement of the Medal of Honor — the first awarded to a Navy officer or sailor for combat actions in Iraq or Afghanistan — came Thursday during a White House briefing.
The medal will be presented to Murphy’s family during a 2:30 p.m. ceremony Oct. 22 at the White House, Cohen said. In addition, the late officer will be honored at two other events: the inclusion of his name on a wall at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes at 11 a.m. Oct. 23, and the presentation of the Medal of Honor flag at the Navy Memorial at 6 p.m. Oct. 23.
Murphy, 29, was leading a four-man observation team in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains when they were spotted by Taliban fighters on June 28, 2005. During the intense battle, Murphy and two of his men — Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson — were killed, and a fourth man, former Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, was seriously wounded but managed to escape. Luttrell was rescued days later.
Murphy, known as “Mikey” to his friends and family, shot and wounded, managed to crawl onto a ridgeline and radio headquarters at the nearby air base for them to send in reinforcements. Taliban fighters were closing in on the team’s position, shooting their weapons and firing rocket-propelled grenades.
“Mikey was ignoring his wound and fighting like a SEAL officer should, uncompromising, steady, hard-eyed, and professional,” Luttrell wrote in his recently published book, Lone Survivor, about his military experiences, his team and the events of that day and the deaths of his teammates, his friends.
The fighting grew more intense, but the team pressed on in the close-quarters battle. At one point, Luttrell wrote, Murphy took his mobile phone, “walked to open ground. He walked until he was more or less in the center, gunfire all around him, and he sat on a small rock and began punching in the numbers to HQ.”
“I could hear him talking,” Luttrell wrote. “ ‘My men are taking heavy fire ... we’re getting picked apart. My guys are dying out here ... we need help.’
“And right then Mikey took a bullet straight in the back. I saw the blood spurt from his chest. He slumped forward, dropping his phone and his rifle. But then he braced himself, grabbed them both, sat upright again, and once more put the phone to his ear.
“ ‘Roger that, sir. Thank you,’ ” Luttrell heard Murphy say, before the lieutenant continued to train fire on the enemy fighters.
“Only I knew what Mikey had done. He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help,” Luttrell wrote. “Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.
“His objective was clear: to make one last valiant attempt to save his two teammates,” he wrote.
Not long after the call, Murphy was shot again, screaming for Luttrell to help him, but Luttrell, also hit and wounded, couldn’t reach him. “There was nothing I could do except die with him,” he wrote.
That day turned more tragic when enemy forces shot down a helicopter carrying members of a quick-reaction force sent to rescue Murphy and his team.
Murphy is survived by his parents, Daniel Murphy and Maureen Murphy, and his brother, John, along with his fiancé, Heather .
The Murphy family on Thursday issued a statement, provided by the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.
“We are thrilled by the president’s announcement today, especially because there is now a public recognition of what we knew all along about Michael’s loyalty, devotion and sacrifice to his friends, family, country and especially his SEAL teammates,” they said. “The honor is not just about Michael, it is about his teammates and those who lost their lives that same day.”
This will be the third Medal of Honor awarded for Iraq and Afghanistan actions.
* Surviving SEAL tells story of deadly mission
* SEAL author speaks of regret, rescue, and the choice that cost 19 lives
* Excerpt from ‘Lone Survivor’
* Michael Murphy's "Fallen Heroes" memorial page
Murphy’s official Navy biography
Lt. Michael P. Murphy, fondly referred to by friends and family as “Murph,” was born May 7, 1976 in Smithtown, N.Y. and grew up in the New York City commuter town of Patchogue, N.Y. on Long Island.
Murphy grew up active in sports and attended Patchogue’s Saxton Middle School. In high school, Murphy took a summer lifeguard job at the Brookhaven town beach in Lake Ronkonkoma — a job he returned to each summer through his college years. Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School in 1994.
Murphy attended Penn State University, where he was an exceptional all-around athlete and student, excelling at ice hockey and graduating with honors. He was an avid reader; his reading tastes ranged from the Greek historian Herodotus to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” Murphy’s favorite book was Steven Pressfield’s “Gates of Fire,” about the Spartan stand at Thermopylae. In 1998, he graduated with a pair of Bachelor of Arts degrees from Penn State — in political science and psychology.
Following graduation, he was accepted to several law schools, but instead he changed course. Slightly built at 5 feet 10 inches, Murphy decided to attend SEAL mentoring sessions at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point with his sights on becoming a U.S. Navy SEAL. Murphy accepted an appointment to the Navy’s Officer Candidate School at Pensacola, Fla., in September, 2000.
Murphy was commissioned as an ensign in the Navy on Dec. 13, 2000, and began Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training in Coronado, Calif. in January 2001, graduating with Class 236. BUD/S is a six-month training course and the first step to becoming a Navy SEAL.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, he attended the Army Jump School, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) school. Lt. Murphy earned his SEAL Trident and checked on board SDV Team ONE (SDVT-1) in Pearl Harbor, HI in July of 2002. In October of 2002, he deployed with Foxtrot Platoon to Jordan as the liaison officer for Exercise Early Victor.
Following his tour with SDVT-1, Lt. Murphy was assigned to Special Operations Central Command in Florida and deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. After returning from Qatar, Lt. Murphy was deployed to the Horn of Africa, Djibouti, to assist in the operational planning of future SDV missions.
In early 2005, Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE as assistant officer in charge of ALFA Platoon and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
On June 28, 2005, Lt. Murphy was the officer-in-charge of a four-man SEAL element in support of Operation Red Wing tasked with finding key anti-coalition militia commander near Asadabad, Afghanistan. Shortly after inserting into the objective area, the SEALs were spotted by three goat herders who were initially detained and then released. It is believed the goat herders immediately reported the SEALs’ presence to Taliban fighters.
A fierce gun battle ensued on the steep face of the mountain between the SEALs and a much larger enemy force. Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with completed disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.
Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point, he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.
As a result of Murphy’s call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of the QRF to extract the four embattled SEALs. As the Chinook drew nearer to the fight, a rocket-propelled grenade hit the helicopter, causing it to crash and killing all 16 men aboard.
On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs continued to fight. By the end of a two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Axelson and Dietz had fallen. Over 30 Taliban were also dead. The fourth SEAL, Petty Officer Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket-propelled grenade and knocked unconscious. Though severely wounded, the fourth SEAL and sole survivor, Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, was able to evade the enemy for nearly a day; after which local nationals came to his aide, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three more days. Luttrell was rescued by U.S. Forces on July 2, 2005.
By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.
Lt. Michael P. Murphy was buried at Calverton National Cemetery less than 20 miles from his childhood home. Lt. Murphy’s other personal awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Ribbon and National Defense Service Medal.
Lt. Murphy is survived by his mother Maureen Murphy; his father Dan Murphy; and his brother John Murphy. Dan and Maureen Murphy, who were divorced in 1999, remain close friends and continue to live in N.Y. Their son John, 22, attends the New York Institute of Technology, and upon graduation will pursue a career in criminal justice, having been accepted to the New York City Police Department.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
You guys are the Marine's doctors; There's no better in the business than a Navy Corpsman...." Lieutenant General Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller, U.S.M.C
Pfc. Shawn Dickens, a new Marine, was a Navy corpsmen for about four years before deciding to join the Corps. Even throughout recruit training, Dickens was referred to as 'Doc' and aided his fellow platoon members with medical questions.
Pfc. Shawn Dickens, a new Marine shows a mural of what he calls the “Corpsmen Code.” The words read “through hell and back for a wounded Marine.” Words Dickens believes to this day.
Oct. 11, 2007; Submitted on: 10/11/2007 08:35:08 AM ; Story ID#: 200710118358
By Lance Cpl. Ubon Mendie, MCRD Parris Island
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. (Oct. 11, 2007) -- "Through hell and back for a wounded Marine" are the words etched on Pfc. Shawn Dickens' stomach and embedded in his heart.
On his pale skin lays a mural of his life's true meaning, not given - but earned.
During training or war, he was there for Marines, nursing every wound either as the unit's doc, or just as a big brother.
Now ready to graduate recruit training, this private first class has a different story. For more than four of his last six years, he served in the Navy, and was embedded with the Fleet Marine Force. During his tenure, he lived as they did, looked like they did, but still was not one of them.
"All the guys that I served with were kids, but they didn't act like it," Dickens said. "Somewhere along the line, these high schoolers turned into these professional young men and woman, but as an outsider, you could never possibly understand what they could have been through to reach that point."
Through tough times and great smiles, Dickens learned to love the Marine Corps from the Navy ranks, but he wanted more.
At the age of 24, and the rank of E-4, Dickens decided to turn in his crow for a chance to earn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor.
"It wasn't a hard choice," Dickens said. "I knew I wanted to continue serving my country and what better way could I do it but with those I have grown to love and respect."
Dickens saw things that were very familiar after entering training. Not only did he know a lot of the training techniques, but he also was familiar with training sicknesses.
As second nature, those in the platoon adopted Dickens as the platoon corpsmen. They would consult Dickens before going to sick call and ask his opinion before they reported issues to their drill instructors.
"I had a heat rash," said Pfc. Michael Porilio, also a new Marine of Platoon 1086. "Doc, took care of it. We can trust him, and you know he cares."
Almost all the platoon can attest to him helping in one way or another.
"I had a bump on my knee and Doc looked at it for me. He told me it looked like cellulitis and circled it to watch it progress," said Pvt. Jonathan Flayntos.
Flayntos added that because of Docs recommendation to be seen, his knee was treated before it got worse.
Now fully on the green side, Dickens looks forward to learning more.
Dickens plans to stay in the Marine Corps until his retirement.
"My goal is to be the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, but I'll take first sergeant as well," he added with a laugh.