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Monday, May 31, 2010

Oil platform - FUBAR

If a tree falls in the forest, but no one is there to see it fall, does that mean that it fell?

If a bomb explodes in the forest, but no one is there to hear the blast – or at least, no one important, does it mean anything exploded? If you live near a place named Tunguska, the answer to both questions would be “yes.”

Similarly, if an oil rig was said to be a safety hazard, but no one was really listening, would that mean the oil rig wouldn’t explode and sink to the bottom of the ocean, killing half the eastern seaboard in an unstoppable wave of black death? Would it mean that a civilian company wouldn’t be left holding the whole bag of sticky poo as the entire gulf coast dies? Would it mean that a U.S. president – an outspoken opponent to drilling and big oil - wouldn’t be sitting on his hands?

See where I’m going with this?

Cause and effect – yeah baby. It’s all about cause and effect. As impossible as it is to know the circumstances surrounding the catastrophe in the Gulf, it is more impossible to understand the reason for the hand-wringing and inaction going on now within our government. The president listens to a few briefs, picks up even fewer tar balls from off the sandy beaches in the South, and goes home for vacation – yet again.

"Hey, Secret Service guys, let's stop for some yummy shrimp cocktails before we head home."

Meanwhile, everything dies – or gets ready to die. British Petroleum executives must be hoarse from the screaming. One can almost hear them – “What the Hell? Who the Hell? Wait a minute … what the Hell?” Then a few days later – “What the Hell? Who the Hell? Wait a minute …. What the Hell? SOMEBODY BLOODY HELP US!”

So, they send in the Coast Guard. Look, I’m not one to get down on any military service, because I was in one - and I know I'm going to get cursed by CG guys for this - but when you have a Lobster Boat lost at sea, you call the Coast Guard. When you have potentially every lobster turning toxic at the bottom of the ocean, it’s time to call someone else. I don’t know – was Bruce Willis busy? Could somebody give the guy a call, at least? I mean, he dealt with that asteroid thing pretty well, and he’s an oil drillin’ guy too, right?

Yeah, I know, that one was fiction. Bummer. Worse than a bummer, because we’re supposed to be counting on British Petroleum and the Coast Guard – or is it the Coast Guard and British Petroleum? Does anyone know who’s in charge here? One can just hear the BP executives now, “What the Hell? Who the Hell? Wait a minute…”

I apologize, dear reader. I know you are about to push the nuke button on me, because this is serious Shite, here and the Coast Guard is all over this problem - and they're handling it. But, being a former military guy, I can see when something is SNAFU, TARFU – or as in this particular case, FUBAR. When things have reached FUBAR stage, it’s time to grab your ass, pucker up, and develop some flexibility. For those unfamiliar with these acronyms, I offer this pleasant gauge:

SNAFU – An oil platform is placed in deep water with Gilligan and the Skipper in charge.
TARFU – Gilligan and the Skipper cannot be found after the oil platform explodes.
FUBAR – Gilligan and the Skipper are running the effort to close the valve on the broken pipe at the bottom of the ocean, with a can of compressed air and some silly-putty between them.

Got the picture? It’s about that bad now. Even the professor and Mr. Howell can’t come up with a good enough plan – or throw enough money at it. If it weren’t so tragic, you’d have to laugh. In fact, you may as well laugh – or pray. That’s about the best course of action at the moment, and that's my official policy. Why doesn't the President order up some big juju magic and do something? Why would he? If he stays away from it, maybe it won't stick to him, like say, tar would.

No wait – let’s build a big hat and drop it over the pipe! Wow! That’s a great idea! Holy crap, someone call BP! No wait – they tried that. It was called the “Ass-hat” idea.” Yep. Didn’t work. It didn’t work about as well as everything else hasn’t worked. In fact, the big O, actually picking tar-balls off the coastline was maybe the most effective thing done yet. How bad can it get?

Well, after we try a big hat, then a smaller hat - then a really small hat and some shit no one understands, how about this: It is already the most massive environmental disaster the U.S. has ever seen, but that’s just the warm-up. The threat is simply unknown. No one has any idea. As of now, there is nearly 100 miles of coastline polluted in Louisiana alone. As there’s only 400 miles of Louisiana coast, things have certainly reached the FUBAR stage. There's oil plumes extending out far beyond this already, and no one knows why. Oh, and here's the best part...every fish and invertebrate contacting the oil will be dying, RIGHT NOW. Birds, reptiles and mammals will be dying for a long time to come – and here’s a big wake up call … WE'RE MAMMALS TOO! Some smart guys have actually been saying there will be “both short term and long term impacts.”

No shit, professor? Feel like cracking open Mr. Lobster or sucking down those raw oysters a year from now? Yummy. Just do a quick science experiment … buy a can of 40 –weight oil (your choice) and dump it in your fish tank. Then fry up Mr. Fish, get all Jurrasic on him and see how you feel in the morning.

No? Well, then, for good measure, call the Coastguard and British Petroleum and ask them to recommend a filter to get all the goo out of the tank. Still nothing?

OK, who’s to blame? According to Speaker Pelosi, and some other dim lights in Congress, it’s former President George Bush. Wow. Color me surprised. According to environmentalists, it’s just “big oil.” And according to President Obama, it is big corporate greed, then former President Bush - then big oil. But as far as British Petroleum is concerned – well, we know what they are saying still.

“What the Hell? Who the Hell…”

Sorry, no answers – and no non-toxic fish yummies. And definitely no more screaming, because those BP executives have lost their voice.

It’s a FUBAR alert still in progress.


Not sick yet – look at this fun link….

Friday, May 28, 2010

Poppies and Memorial Day





By Wicked Patriot

Sometimes I wonder at the phrase "Happy Memorial Day" I wonder how many people remember that Memorial day has nothing to do with holidays, family vacations, BBQ's or cold beer.

Memorial Day began as Decoration Day to honor the Union soldiers who died during the Civil War. After WW1 is was broadened in scope to encompass all soldiers who have fallen in service of our great country.

The first Memorial Day was observed by freed slaves to honor the Union soldiers who had died to free them in a long forgotten place called the Washington Race Course on May 1st 1865. The Washington Race Course was a former Confederate prisoner of war camp in South Carolina.

After the war freed slaves exhumed Union soldiers buried in the mass grave on the site and gave them a proper burial.

Memorial Day was not a declared “holiday” until 1968. This is when the "holiday" was combined with Veterans Day and Washington's Birthday to create a convenient three-day weekend for Congress (fitting). The “holidays” were eventually separated again in 1978. Most businesses are no longer closed on Washington's Birthday or Veterans Day, but Memorial Day seems to endure. Not so much to honor the fallen, but to give the government a three-day weekend.

My father served all his adult life for a country he loved. Now he is gone, like so many others forgotten on distant shores – never again to see the country they fought and died for.

You see it is not about BBQ's and days off to me, or anyone like me. The little boys and girls that have to grow up without their moms and dads, know this as do the wives and husbands who cannot go on to grow old together. And there are so many sisters and brothers sorely missed by those that love them – they understand this too.

When I think about Memorial Day, I think of Red Poppies sold by the VFW and the poem that inspired that tradition, “In Flanders Fields,” penned by John McCrea. Do you know it? I do.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
  That mark our place; and in the sky
  The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
  Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
  The torch; be yours to hold it high.
  If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

Remember as you drive to your BBQ’s and to the beach, there are those unseen, beyond the veil of the final nightfall, who whisper “remember me.”

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Patriotism.


In 1991 I wrote an article about patriotism.

It wasn’t much. I simply explained that the flag waving and bugle playing and all that great stuff really wasn’t what it all was about. It was really about family and duty and caring for your brothers and sisters. Patriotism is the best things about being human.

I know these sorts of ideas may seem trite to some. I imagine there are plenty of folks out there who don’t believe in God or Heaven – or whatever you’d like to call either. Perhaps they believe in other things. Perhaps they believe in nothing at all. And that’s fine – belief or non-belief isn’t mandatory, but making some kind of choice to do something for other people is.

I can’t help but think of all those commercials and paid “news reports” – some with the President himself, extolling the need for volunteering – asking for people to give of themselves. And yet, half a world away, young men and women are doing just that. They are volunteering to protect the rest of us against a very real enemy. You just haven’t seen the faces of those killers, personally. You hear instead, the platitudes of a government led by cowards. You listen to propaganda – or worse – you believe total fabrications intended to ramp up the volume of hate and despair.

I know the face of hopelessness. I know its’ bitter taste, and can tell you personally what it is like to look into the eyes of the kind of creatures who caused the gaping hole and all the misery in New York. These individuals are no longer human. They aren’t fighting for their families – they aren’t serving any duty, holy or otherwise. They are in fact, insane.

Individuals like that, and all those who enable them – even to a large extent, many in our own government – are just husks. They are empty, lost individuals shuffling through a decaying landscape. For them, the suffering of average people is not real, and the sacrifices made on their behalf simply do not even come to mind. They can’t possibly see beyond their own needs, and so, in their mind, how could there be anyone else who does? How could there be any real kindness and any real giving – without a taking? For these people, how could there even be a God in the face of so much thoughtlessness and emptiness in the cold vastness of the universe?

It is within that barren landscape of soul, that hate and terror and oppression are born.

But there is an alternative and it is always within reach. You can simply choose to care. You can simply try your hardest to be a better person than you were the day before. You can be the one to say a kind word, to ask a simple question, to do a selfless thing and to honor those who are giving up themselves in every possible way, so you will be happy and safe.

I have had the greatest honor of wearing the uniform of my country. But it is as nothing compared to the greatness of those who have come before me and those who have come after. I have known both. I have had friends who flew gliders into France on D-Day. I have listened to the stories describing a sky on fire as gliders exploded in balls of flame and bodies of comrades fell to earth. I have known men who were officers in the Underwater Demolition Teams. Their stories are told in pieces – the pieces they are allowed to speak about, and the pieces which their voices will allow them to tell. I have known veterans of Korea and Vietnam and there’s a sadness there, too great for words.

And most recently, I have spoken to a number of my active duty brothers and sisters. I dread the future because it holds the chance – the day – when those voices will go silent and I will never know their fate. My time and my efforts were like a blink compared to these people.

And so we come to the meaning of it all. Patriotism is this: a belief and love for your fellow man, and for an idea that became a country and a people. It is about being more than skin and blood and bone. It is simply about transcendence, and hope, and the willingness to give everything up so that the person next to you – or someone you never met - will be free and live a full life. You don’t have to understand it, but you do have to respect it.

Michelle Obama once described a particular moment as the first time she was proud of her country. With her and her husband choosing to take yet another vacation as the annual wreath is laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I would have to say it is the first time I am truly and deeply ashamed of our President.

But this is still America, and those brave souls being remembered on Monday, died so he and the First Lady could do as they wish. That sacrifice and that gift – all given for nothing in return, is the true measure and meaning of patriotism.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ZEUS system with MTBS®





The veil of secrecy is lifted. The new project at D&S Tactical is now not only named, but is also pending approval by a major tactical supply company - soon to be identified. To contact D&S about this, send e-mail to the Barren Earth Blade Smith


Following are some words on the system. At D&S we make gear for legends.




All ideas start with a small spark. That spark sometimes is a perfect moment – and sometimes it is formed from the actions and simple existence of great men and women. Examples are all around us.
This world has seen titans – and they are measured by their unflinching valor, by heroism which mere mortals cannot understand, and by actions which literally form the very world we live on. Some may say these great people simply disappear like the flicker and pop of a dying candle flame. Others may equate these immortals, as the ancient Samurai did, to cherry blossoms – fine and beautiful things while they are here among us, but gone when the wind comes and the days grow cold.
But there are those who believe our hero’s live on, strengthening us in our darkest personal hours. They are eternal. If heaven or Valhalla exists, then surely they are there looking down on us, giving us the strength to accomplish just one more thing – or to live a whole lifetime with purpose and compassion and strength.
We don’t memorialize the dead – we memorialize the legendary.
That is the spirit in which the ZEUS knife and Modular Tactical Blade System (MTBS®) were created. In the memory of great men he both knew and those brothers and sisters who are still out there in the dark places, fighting for us all. Barren Earth Knife Smith, Dave Rogers, of D&S Tactical brought the ZEUS into being with the finest materials available on the market today – and simple imagination, determination and hand-craftsmanship.
Made from slabs of 8A High Carbon Stainless Super Steel, the ZEUS is .178 thick and extremely tough. Featuring a razor-sharp double-edge down half of its’ wide blade, this weapon is built for a wide variety of challenges in the business of Special Warfare. The spear-point double edge with its’ mild hollow grind, make it easy to sharpen while allowing for excellent penetration of the target and smooth withdrawal. The steel is extremely resistant to corrosion and incredibly durable due to the cryogenic quench in the heat treatment process. A variety of Black-T blade coatings improve the strength and are designed to match the colors of the handles and sheath. The blades are available in black, dark grey, light grey, tan, dark earth and OD green. They fit each of the custom handles, and mounted blades can be field-stripped and reconfigured depending on mission requirements, in a matter of minutes. A cleverly-designed, silenced, kydex container with MOLE system clip is available to carry spare blades. Blades can be ordered with a variety of engraving – or none at all, to facilitate proper equipment in the places and instances where being identified by your equipment simply isn’t an option.
The handle is equally well suited in the water or out, due to the careful hand-shaping and individual treatment given each knife. Holes in the handle suck water away from the surface, allowing a sure grip in any environment and increasing the surface-area in contact with the palm of the hand. The G10 material which makes up the handle is formed from hundreds of tissue thin fiberglass and resin layers under incredible heat and pressure. Every knife is assembled by Rogers with individual attention to every detail. The steel pins are heavy anodized allen bolts and are set firmly into the sides. The handles are available in pitch black, desert / black, urban grey / black and jungle / black. They can be set permanently onto a blade – or can be removable – to allow operators to combine them with different blades and sheaths at will.
The sheaths are made specifically for each individual blade system– hand cut and fitted using black concealex, with specialized removable face-plates available in desert digital, jungle digital and urban digital colors and are fitted with specialized tek-lok clips. Everything is done piece by piece. The application of these faceplates in conjunction with our handles and coated and uncoated blades, provide a truly modular blade system and perfect customization according to individual requirements.
The finished product is completed with the trademark style of any D&S Tactical product. It is carefully disassembled and reassembled to ensure it is as close to perfect as it can be.
Because, we honor the memory of our nation’s greatest warriors.
We memorialize the legendary.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

PTSD revisited again

I’ve got some first-hand knowledge with regard to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s always with me. I’ve dealt with the effects of it since 1993.

So, when I read about some dumb comments being made on the subject, I can’t help but call it as I see it.  Not to be flippant, but the winner of today’s dumb comment drawing is: the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps. To be fair, I don’t know the man – and I wasn’t in San Diego for that three-day conference. I didn’t hear his whole speech. Maybe he’s really with the program. Most Marines I’ve met, are.

But, I felt it necessary to take this story on. These were very dumb comments – and they were were made during a recent, posh get-together consisting of 1,000 Marines, sailors and mental health specialists at the Town & Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego. I’ll take these and put them in the light and perspective of someone with PTSD.

But first, some history and science: PTSD has been in the spotlight because our troops have been deployed – and deployed – and deployed again, in endless rotations to one desert or another, one crap city, town or village or another, and one mountain range or another since 2001.

Check your calendar, dear reader. While you’ve been visiting Starbucks for the last nine years, men and women in uniform have been out there making sure both you and Starbucks are here to enjoy the smell of coffee. On a more serious note, PTSD hasn’t been with us since 2001 – it’s always been with us. The cause of the disorder is thought to be chemical reactions in the human brain.

The human brain produces some of the most powerful chemical compounds on the face of the planet. We are each a pharmacy of “Dr. Feel-Good” medications. The trouble occurs when the brain notices something really bad is happening. In that momentary flash, brain chemistry kicks into high gear, and the result is a “remapping” of brain structure or operation. There are opinions that suggest major reconfiguration of thought processes due to these very real and very physical changes. The brain does this so that the next time such an event happens to you, you are "hard-wired" to respond. Study in fields such as neuroendocrinology and neuroanatomy and genetics have all been brought to bear on the disorder. But basically, the disorder has been with us, since the first tiger chased the first of our monkey ancestors across a field.

And unfortunately, it has happened to military folks through every conflict in history. It has been recorded since the 6th century BC, when an Athenian soldier suffered no external injury but became blind after witnessing the death of a friend. The names people have given it, perhaps reflect the times. In recent history it has been known as exhaustion, neurasthenia, war neurosis, shell shock, battle fatigue  and combat fatigue. New names have not changed the thing itself - they only make the doctors and other professionals in society feel smarter. 

And so, we come back to San Diego. Because it was there that Lt. Gen. Richard Zilmer, the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps, said, “We are at the point where we need to take action.”

Yeah baby. We’re there. We weren’t there nine years ago – and we weren’t there after Kosovo or Somalia or Panama, Vietnam, Korea, WWII or WWI, or all the other military engagements troops have been involved with. But, we’re there now. Oh good. I thought we’d never get “there.”

We are there because the general is sitting with a big smile on his face behind a white-draped table at the Town and Country Resort. We are there because the Marines are seeing a suicide rate which surpasses all the other services – almost doubled since 2006. And of course we’re there, because the words “at the point” and “take action” sound good in a speech - and make you feel all warm, squishy, safe and smart.

But the truth is, we are very far from “there.”

And apparently, this point has not been overlooked by the general, because also part of his speech was the following statement: “We are not satisfied with the results we are seeing.” And of course, his capper to that statement "commanders can point to no single factor." The general also explained that the military is such a loving and understanding place, that “there are men and women in their ranks who have sought and received help for post-traumatic stress disorder – and have been able to rejoin their units and win promotion.” Yeah – it’s ok. Don’t worry, be happy.

I know of instances where that statement has been true. I also know that during my time in the service, if you had a problem, the last place you wanted to be was in a military doctor’s office, talking about your woes, because it would make people you work with, not want to work with you. It might cause your flight status or deployment status or other very important things to be revoked. It might end you up in some dead-end job in a forgotten corner of the world. And it might cause you to be given your walking papers - a medical discharge. But again, to be fair to the general, the military is trying very hard to get a handle on this thing. Of course, dear reader, you’re fooling yourself to think they are any closer to solving it. You can stoke yourself on anti-depressants and seratonin re-uptake inhibitors and drugs that affect dopamine. You can pop sleeping pills until your head swims, you can try prayer – and that one might be your best hope – you can sit in a circle, hold hands and sing kumbaya or cry on each other's shoulders, you can sit in an auditorium and listen to the VA give you a two-hour, droning bullshit “orientation.” You can do the Tai Chi dance in the garden, go in for an experimental treatment like the stellate ganglion block or the ecstasy trials, or you can even let them drill holes in your head and give you a boost to end all boosts.

But in the end, wherever you go, that’s where you are. There’s no easy answer – and no amount of late-night programming, drinking, eating or farting; blogging, reading or zoning-out to the endless scroll of twitter, will ever make it easier to turn out the light. No one will be there in your dreams to help you when the ghosts come. Nothing will tamp down that almost itchy feeling you get in crowds. Nothing will stop the memories from crowding out your waking thoughts. Nothing will stop the anxiety and the incessant feeling like you’re forgetting something important – like you have to do something right now, or you have to watch those high windows, those shadowed places or the fidgeting scumbag in the market for suspicious movement. Nothing will stop the surges of adrenaline in response to fireworks, a dropped object or a too-familiar smell.

And of course, nothing will stop them from re-naming this condition. At least they accomplished that one thing at the conference in San Diego.

They’re calling it “Moral Injury.”


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For your reference: http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/military/article_3dc03ec3-6a37-5608-8563-aca88f635271.html

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Boots.

Boots.
You see them in the closet, or maybe strewn across your floor like some kind of trail to hidden places.

I’ve worn a lot of boots. Maybe I wore so many for so long that my feet would no longer accept a tennis shoe or something a little less rugged and maybe more dressy. Since leaving the service in 1994, my feet got worse and worse until I was walking with a cane. But I was still shuffling along in my Desert Storm era boots - lately salvaged from military surplus stores.

It’s a strange thing when you consider these military icons – I mean really consider them.

Back when I was still a young man, I was a member of the honor guard, rifle detail and sword detail. I worked at a base with 96 ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles. It was a serious, deadly mission. And we were playing “Chicken” with the declining Soviet Union. I would usually get to the base headquarters building just as the anthem was played. I enjoyed taking the time there in front of headquarters, rendering a salute as the flag was raised. I remember it clearly. The jump boots I wore back then gleamed. I kept my uniform immaculate. One of the guys taking down the flag did not. The toes of his boots were in need of polish. I noticed things like that.

Another day I carried the American flag down the main street of Newbury, UK, as the street was lined with WWII veterans there in recognition of Eisenhower Day. I remember seeing those old men in their dark suits, medals lining their chests – so many medals. Beside me, another troop carried the British flag. We moved slow and respectfully with a long parade line behind us. The old men’s faces were somber, but their boots shined as brightly as ours. I noticed.

Flash forward  - to a dispersal exercise in which I was detailed as an LPOP. My camouflage was exceptional, and when I was young, I could disappear. One night two guys walked down to my position. They stopped right over me.

“Where is this guy?” said the one in front of me. I was looking at his boots. He had missed lacing through one eyelet. I noticed things like that – even in the pitch black of that field.

 “I don’t know,” said the other, behind me, now poking me in the back with his rifle. “What is this pile of trash? Someone should come out here and clean this up.” They walked on, their footsteps receding into the distance. As an LPOP I was not supposed to engage them – just report their position. It was my job to notice things like that.

Flash forward – to a long day in Moscow. I had come back in from a walk – trailed for hours by members of the KGB. The Soviet Union was in its’ death throes, but you couldn’t tell that from our trip. We’d been given the full “dollar” tour of the city, and being young and stupid I found every opportunity to slip out into the streets alone. One night I grabbed a cab and made a long trip across the city. It was blistering cold. I needed a real hat and coat. By the time I got back to the hotel, the government agent stationed outside the door of my room had changed. Now it was “Thick Mustache” and his thin-soled scuffed shoes. The laces were thin too – as were his lips. Lips which never smiled despite my courteous tip of my new hat. He crossed his legs, adjusted the newspaper in his hands, and looked away dismissively. I still remember it clearly. The heel of his right shoe tipped toward me and I noticed it was worn on the outside. Bow-legged maybe. Yeah, I noticed.

Flash forward – It looked like I might be staying behind when the main group of our unit left Mogadishu bound for home. I needed new boots, but the Air Force supply group wouldn’t give them to me. You see, I wasn’t on any of their lists – I was with the Joint Task Force and my friends were all U.S. Army, Navy and Marines. It was almost funny when I couldn’t get any of those other groups to slide me a new pair of covers for the old dogs, either. I think I did laugh at that – after all, I did have a tendency to notice things like that. Then my home unit needed me back – and I was on my way back to Holloman and the F-117A.

Flash forward – I picked up a newspaper a week after returning home from deployment in Africa. The black jumps felt foreign on my feet after so long in the deserts. They would forever feel foreign now, although I didn’t know that then. I slouched in the couch at the front of the office and flipped open the paper. The front page caught me immediately. The soles of a pair of boots were visible in the back of a flatbed. Their owner stared up at the sky – those who were loading him into the back, were caught in a moment of strain. Perhaps it was the camera gear still hanging around his neck. Maybe it was just the slackness of his frame. Shot up and dead, the Frenchman had been my friend. He had filmed me all around the country of Somalia. We had joked about that. Back then I could still speak some French - not anymore. My friend’s left shoe was unlaced, ends of the string trailing in a pool of something. A black and white photo doesn’t deliver true color, but I knew those boots were deep brown – and the pool of liquid they were being dragged through was red. I noticed things like that.

There’s no answer for the things we carry with us. There’s no reality where such troublesome thoughts fit neatly or comfortably. There’s no place to put them when they try to crowd out other thoughts. I've seen other photos now too in newspapers - of boots next to an up-ended rifle and a helmet. I've seen a lot of photos like that. 

Flash forward – I’m old now, but not old enough to have these memories wiped clean by time. Sometimes I’m grateful for that. Most of the time I am not. Still, the other day I received a phone call that I’d won a contest. Somehow I’d won an entire lifetime of new boots from www.militaryboots.com. The irony isn’t lost on me, and oddly the new Converse shoes actually fit. They fit perfect. I can't help but think of all the young guys and gals over there now, in the bad places for us. A lot of them would like a new set of shoes. Some of them there today, won't be coming home tomorrow. I can't do anything about that, except remember them every time I lace up. The militaryboots folks were very kind - they really just held the contest out of the goodness of their hearts. It wasn't a slick marketing thing. They really are the best sorts of people - and they have every boot known to man. When they asked what color I wanted, I didn't hesitate.

My new boots are black. Black like eternal night - like my dreams mostly are. Black because I'm so tired of the desert, and still after all these years, it's where I live. 

I notice things like that.



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Here's the full story on the contest: http://www.militaryboots.com/blog/
And here's where to go if you need new boots: http://www.militaryboots.com

And here's a link to a better writer than I,; and it is such a very high compliment: http://www.twitlonger.com/show/180e2d

Friday, May 7, 2010

An old article I did after interviewing Commander Marcinko

Just thought some of the readers of this blog would like to see this - an interview which I did with SEAL Commander Dick Marcinko in 1997. The Commander is known worldwide for his series of books which started with his exceptional biography. Today he's also known for his public speaking, a popular video game, and a new company producing high-tech time pieces for operators. See the black watch at right, which is his top- of-the-line, Red Cell wristwatch.

I remember sitting on the curb with him at the gate of Holloman AFB collecting quotes for this story. He was a regular guy - but not the kind of regular guy you ever wanted coming after you. To the Vietnamese, he was "Shark Man of the Delta," to others, he was Demo Dick. But his most famous name is certainly the one he coined himself - "Rogue Warrior."

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A letter to a general

In the last few months of my time in the military I was placed in charge of “Special Projects” at Holloman AFB. It is a position, which does not exist. It doesn’t exist for a reason – because it never really existed.

Special Projects was like calling your breakfast “special” or your neighbor’s house “special.” Just because one has scrambled eggs on it – and the other has rotten eggs dripping down the windows and doors, doesn’t mean they are special. In fact, “Special Projects,” should have been called “Projects for the Soon To Depart (PSTD),” if it had to be called anything at all. In fact, it was absolutely “Special” in the way the old lady down the street describes it, when her rat-dog shits all over the carpet – as in, “Ohh, isn’t that special!” But there was a reason for it – there always is.

Take for example the office adjacent, in which two high-ranking officers were in charge of something called “Quality Force.” Yep – it’s just what you were thinking. Much like Special Projects, Quality Force had nothing to do with anything in its’ title. There was no such thing as a “Quality Force” or “Do More With Less.” If you could do "more with less," then you must have had too much to begin with. If you are calling everything "Quality" now, that must mean that before, your force was something less than that. Lastly, when you’re given less to work with, less generally gets done – and when you have to call something “Quality,” you can be pretty sure that is not what it is all about. Quality Force propaganda was controlled by the two less-than-quality monkey head officers behind that second-floor headquarters door. But that didn’t change what every regular serviceman and woman knew it to be – just a trail of rat-dog shit.

And once smelled, you always know it for what it is.

And so, when the Army Two-Star and SOCOM Commander, Charles T. Cleveland allowed the charges to go forward against three young Navy SEALs, you could be damned sure there was both more and less to that whole story than met the eye. The smell was too familiar. Now, with two SEALs cleared, the third and final guy steps into the courtroom this week.

If the military administrative rat-dog squad had anything other than “Quality” people, the General might get a clue and try to back out while there’s still time. Just let McCabe go. But, the wheels and weasels are already in motion – and in the service, that means the whole stinking trail of poop must be allowed to drop completely, once a little bit of the steaming sauce has hit the carpet.

After all, why have a small mess, when a much bigger one is possible.

Being an NCO of some hard-knocks experience, I tend to view things from a Special Projects perspective. So pardon me if I don’t get all teary-eyed over Cleveland getting smeared as this charade he allowed to begin implodes like a rusting Soviet submarine on its’ way to Davy Jones. And I damned sure would be contemplating a fun Welcome Back To  Active Duty party (WBTAD), to Petty Officer Third Class Kevin DeMartino, the lying rat-dog enlisted guy who has proven to the world that “Yes, Virginia, Shitheads Do Exist (YVSDE).

In fact, now that I am long since out of the service, I can voice my gentle opinion as publicly as I would like – and “I do like,” so, here it is:

Dear General,
The dumbest Airman Basic I ever knew, could have seen this one coming. In fact, there were probably a number of recent trainees, fresh from Lackland AFB, you could have consulted. But you didn’t. One wonders how it was possible, then, to run afoul of such a simple and obvious thing. If young enlisted guys are unwilling to accept non-judicial punishment and instead risk court-martial for something they are swearing they didn’t do – then probably, they didn’t do it. Because, in the world of the enlisted, you know how things are geared – and that is mostly in such a way as to chew you up and spit you out. When an enlisted guy is offered non-judicial wrist slapping instead of career-ending CM action, and he takes the CM, he’s either a fool, he likes how they deliver the food at the jail, or – and this is really a key point – HE’S INNOCENT.

But, potentially being a worthless hump, you decide in your gilded letterhead glory, to hammer these guys.

I have only met a handful of generals, because I was just a regular schmuck. One bitched me out, two were really good to me, one shook my hand, one stood beside me in a hummer in Somalia, one signed my journals and one even tried to promote me. They were all good guys, and to be fair, I don’t know you. But I can say for certain how I would have handled a scenario like this one these SEALs have been faced with. I would have been indignant and pissed off, and as a tough, but principled sergeant, I would have delivered my thoughts about such a thing in-person, replete with colorful language and punctuated with appropriate additional activity. It would have been stupid and pointless (perhaps like this article), then, as an old friend of mine once said, “I could go to lock-up or some icy northern rock in the ocean, with a smile on my face.”

But these young men are professionals. They are good, decent men. They deserve respect and support, not Prosecution By Pinheads (PBP). They have handled themselves with dignity and their actions prove what I and every other American except for yourself and the prosecutors already knew – they didn’t deserve this. They prove there are a lot of folks out there, anyone would be proud to serve with. You, however, should possibly consider opening a new office for yourself – the PSTD (see paragraph two of this article), because you might just want to think about some civilian career options.

Subsequently, you may feel free to include yourself in the “pinhead” category if you would like. I won’t put you there, because I’m a member of the former “Quality Force.”

And I was “Special.”


______

P.S. If the poor schmuck you have compiling your press clips happens to come across this article and you are given it in your daily folder of "poop about you," please feel free to send me a response. I'll actually print it - even if you call me an asshole - and especially if you say "you didn't do it."Because I always gave officers my support. And I always thought you generals were stand-up guys. I wonder what young men and women will think, though, after this? 

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