A New Years Message from Dave -- Courage
Happy New Year from Dave
As Ought Six dawns war is deep amongst us and guess what commando: Its chances of ending tonight are slim. Then a light bulb blinked in this old snake eaters skull, about a few great men; a poem and their combined testament to that essential commodity for a soldier to win and to be an effective warrior -- something you, may not have given much thought to lately because your too busy these days displaying it in actions which will stand the test of timethey call it courage.
During acts of Courage sometimes mistakes are made. I think its important to mention how to overcome a mistake by keeping focused on the solution as not to loose your courage.
Aggressive rawness forms of courage, show our enemies that strength and guile do mater in a fire fight.
A kind of uniquely American courage which is a hodge podge of our ancestors heritage found in the sinew of master of civilian adventures found in the pages of study on the Great African Hunter like Robert Rouark, or Big wave Surfing Pioneers like Buzzy Trent or Laird Hamilton.
Courage, is that something all great warriors have whether they battle nature or motor through a gauntlet of IEDs while driving down Baghdads Haifa Street and come out alive Or which the four passages of Kiplings IF, Speaks volumes of
If ( so Says Kipling)
you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
Like the hunter facing the charge of the Lionor the adrenaline rush of paddling down the face of a twenty foot wave, every warrior has that nerve its just applying it is what separates the warrior from the observer.
Courage is similar. It is the ability to think and act when one is afraid.
Cowardice is when you let fear take over. The secret to handling fear; is to suppress it by focusing on a solution, not the problem.
Fear can turn thoughts inward causing an extrovert to become self reflective in a nano-flash at just the precise time he should be pouring on action. Fear creates panic or absence of thought if YOU let it!
The ability to think under fire (or pressure or fear of any kind) is courage.
Fear is that state of mind when lack of thinking is overiden by emotion.
But we always want to keep our edge Military personnel train by repetition to
inculcate: To teach each other to be reflexive and flexible in motion and thought via immediate action drills; in the course of action and in the absence of thought during extreme situations ( ambushes, IEDs etc) while under fire in combat. Before we go in to combat or on patrol we always reherse: to be inculcated. Part of that rehearsal
always includes immediate action drills.
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
When a soldier matures, he develops the ability to think under pressure and become more dangerous to the enemy and a better leader. One thing important to remember is how courage also helps you handle mistakes and forge on. We have all played a sport where we made a big mistake and blew a play. If we dwell on our failure we loose the game. But if we keep our focus: or as they say our head in the game, we can still win.
A couple Men who exemplify courage are Sfc Robert L. Howard and Petty Officer Mike Thornton.
During the Vietnam war First Lt., Robert L. Howard (then Sfc .), U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces on 30 December 1968 distinguished himself with a centering toward his situation that was quite remarkable.
While serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the Republic of Vietnam, the platoon First Lt. Howard was with, had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk, and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt, detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely. 1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Petty Officer Mike Thornton , U.S. Navy (SEAL ), Navy Advisory Group in the Republic of Vietnam, on 31 October 1972. PO Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with U.S. Navy Lieutenant Tommy Norris(SEAL) serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a 3-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, PO Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of 2 enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately 2 hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary courage and perseverance, PO Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer Norris and enabling the safe extraction of all patrol members, showing conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against enemy forces and thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Howard and Thronton --- momentarily fell off the horse but quickly got back in the saddle before any emotion or fear set in finishing the action and thus:
so [held] on when there is nothing in [them]
Except the Will which [said] to them: "Hold on!"
Howard and Thronton in Vietnam, are examples of why a soldiers and sailors trains to fight the way they do. They Drill their specific duties to replicate a state of fear so that during a action any state of fear never becomes a panic and thus, their response is a focus, motivation and intense course of effective action that is reflexive.
I want to Drive theirs (and other actions like theirs ) home to you! Courage is allabout thinking Panic is all about NOT THINKING.
And that Poem?
Its called If. Its by the late great Rudyard Kipling. Whenever you get a moment, take a look at If , those medal of honor citations and then your self in a tall mirror and know without a doubt you do have the same courage which those verses or men before you have had. You need just to apply the courage wisely and remember:
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!
Tactical Gear News Title
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RAdm. "Jay" R. Stark, USN; once called "[Marines] I see as two breeds, Rottweilers or Dobermans, because Marines come in two varieties, big and mean, or skinny and mean. They're aggressive on the attack and tenacious on defense. They've got really short hair and they always go for the throat. "
Our guess is he was refering to Marine MP's
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by Capt. Eric Badger
Airmen drop the ball on New Years Eve
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
1/3/2006 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- With inspiration from New York -- the city that never sleeps -- Airmen at this desert base that never sleeps got to drop the ball this New Years Eve.
In less than 72 hours, some 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron members constructed a New Years Eve Ball like the one dropped at New Yorks Times Square every year.
Weve got New York beaten -- hands down, said electrician Staff Sgt. Jacob Phillips, the New Years Eve Ball project officer.
New Yorks ball is six feet in diameter. The one he helped build has a 12-foot diameter. The Big Apples ball weighs 1,042 pounds, versus the ton the desert ball weighs. But the New York ball has more lights -- 696 to 417.
Two out of three isnt bad, he said.
Similar to the Times Square tradition, which dates to 1907, the squadron suspended the ball about 100 feet in the air and slowly lowered it from a crane on New Years Eve as the audience counted down the seconds until 2006.
When the last second ticked away, about 230 volts of electricity helped illuminate the 417 lights.
Sergeant Phillips said the flamboyant ball had humble beginnings.
It was made out of an unused sewage tank, he said. The tank was ordered by our plumbing folks and was too big for what the shop needed it for. So they gave it to us and we sculpted it into (the ball), he said. This is the first time the base has ever done anything like this, so its really exciting to be a part of it.
The civil engineers built legs for the ball and transported it by flat-bed truck from their compound to the bases Memorial Plaza where the New Years Eve celebration took place.
The entire squadron pitched in to help out on this project, said electrician Senior Airman Joseph McGee. From the electrical shop to plumbing, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) and structures, each shop contributed big time to make this a memorable New Year for everyone.
There were skeptics, Sergeant Phillips said...
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, Jan. 5, 2006) -- The U.S. Biathlon Association nominated a Soldier this week to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics Feb. 10 through 26 in Torino, Italy.
Army biathlete makes Olympics team
Spc. Jeremy Teela, a member of the Armys World Class Athlete Program, was nominated to represent the United States in the Olympics as a biathlete following his performance in the TD Banknorth Festival at Fort Kent, Maine, Dec. 28 to Jan 3.
Teela is one of 10 biathletes nominated to represent the United States at the Winter Games. He understands making the team is easier than winning a medal.
Even with the snow and rain, this is probably the easiest course well ski on in the whole year, he said following the first two days of competitions at the Maine Winter Sports Center.
During conditions that included freezing rain and sleet, Teela placed sixth in the Mens 20 km Individual on day one of the best-three-out-of-four competition. He knew he had to finish stronger in his next three events if he wanted to make a second appearance at the Winter Olympics. Still, he didnt appear shaken.
In the last Olympic trials I finished in 12th place in the Individual, he said.
Indeed, Teela showed continued improvement throughout the four-day event. During a snow storm on Dec. 30, he finished third in the mens 10-km biathlon sprint; on Jan. 2, he finished second in the mens 12.5-km pursuit; and on Jan. 3, he finished first in the mens 10-km sprint.
You just have to stay focused and confident, Teela said. At this level, confidence is everything.
Submitted by: 31st MEU
SCOUT SWIMMERS of 31st MEU boat company takes the beach
Story Identification #: 200612224026
Story by Gunnery Sgt. William J. Ray, Jr.
KIN BLUE BEACH, OKINAWA, Japan (Dec. 29, 2005) -- Marines of F Company, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted Combat Rubber Reconnaissance Craft training Dec. 28 and 29 as part of their preparation for an upcoming special operations capability test.
"This is the first chance we've had to get the boats in the water since we arrived on Okinawa," said Staff Sgt. Michael Roy, platoon sergeant, 3rd Platoon. "We need to just get out in the boats again and knock off some of the rust. It's also what we have to do to prepare for the upcoming (Special Operations Training Group testing) package."
The 32-year-old Elk Grove, Calif., native went on to talk about the different areas of training and how it was also conducted as a re-familiarization exercise for the company.
"We are primarily practicing our surf passages, landing procedures, organization methods once ashore, and our basic movement to the objective," explained Roy.
Coxains control the CRRCs while the company is out on the water, said Roy. They are the ones who get the company from the ship to the shore.
The scout swimmers are the initial wave of Marines to ensure there are no obstacles in the water. They also mark and initially secure the landing zone. A follow-on security force then lands when signaled by the scout swimmers. This security force will then more thoroughly secure the landing zone while the mission takes place. Once the security force is in place, the assault and support forces will land and then proceed with the mission.
1/3/2006 - KABUL, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- When most people think of Christmas, they think of spending quality time with family and friends, sitting around a beautifully decorated tree, opening brightly colored gifts and eating a feast of homemade goodies.
The Christmas spirit is alive in Afghanistan
Others say Christmas is all about giving.
All of which I believe. But if you'd have asked me two weeks ago, I'd have said my Christmas was looking rather dreary, being deployed to Afghanistan.
After all, I wasn't going to be watching my two children, ages 4 and 1, get up all excited after seeing what had magically appeared under the tree during the night. I wasn't holding my wife and laughing as the kids tore into their gifts with a fervor that goes unmatched at any other time of the year. I wouldn't be eating all the freshly cooked turkey, ham, dressing and pies -- and smelling all the beautiful aromas that come with them.
Even though my Christmas lacked all of the things that normally inspire the Christmas spirit, if you ask me today, I'll tell you I had one of the best Christmas experiences of my life.
Thanks to the diligent efforts of an Army staff sergeant with whom I share living quarters and the kind words of half a dozen Afghan guards who watch over us like guardian angels while we sleep, I experienced a magic on this Christmas Eve like never before.
The festivities started around 6:30 p.m. But as could be expected during a deployment and with my lack of enthusiasm this year, I arrived about an hour late to find an underwhelming amount of people and a total lack of Christmas spirit.
There was loads of food brought from all over, holiday cookies from home and individually packaged treats from a box. But the magic just wasn't there. Whether it is the sports talk on television filling the void where holiday music should have been or the lack of children's laughter throughout the house, the mood just wasn't in the air.
About the time it really started sinking in that this Christmas Eve would probably be best spent sleeping in my bunk, the staff sergeant caught my attention and said, "Grab some cookies. We're going to hand them out."
In my confusion, I picked up a tray of cream-filled cookies and followed him past all the revelers, out the door, through the yard and into the alley behind our safe-house where Afghan guards work around the clock. We started handing cookies to each of the guards, who in turn, greeted us with salutations of 'Merry Christmas' and their heartfelt thanks and appreciation for our being here in their country instead of at home with our loved ones.
After our exploits as cookie Santas, we returned to our house accompanied by a few Afghan guards who'd shown up early and weren't on duty yet. A fire pit burned in the backyard. We all sat, warming our hearts and feet, to the crackle of the fire and laughter of good friends -- some of whom I'd met for the first time that night.