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I'm an officer from Coast Guard of Singapore and also a fan of your newsletter, keeping doing your stuff guys, it's great.

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Wanna say thanks for all the newsletter ya'll guys sent me... i'm really into this stuff and some day hope 2 be a special ops personnel. Although i'm a trinidadian I really enjoy the stuff you'll do... DE OPPRESSO LIBER to save the oppressed take care!!!! And I respect that.

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Dave's Message

FORGOTTEN HEROES


SFC Robert Howard (at left) standing in front of a badly shot up huey - Dak To 1968

"It is a good thing for all Americans, and it is an especially good thing for young Americans, to remember the men who have given their lives in war and peace to the service of their fellow countrymen, and to keep in mind the feats of daring and personal prowess done in times past by some of the many champions of the nation in the various crises of her history. Thrift, industry, obedience to law, and intellectual culvation are essential qualities in the makeup of any successful people; but no people can be really great unless they possess also the heroic virtues which are as needful in time of peace as in time of war, and as important in civil as in military life. As a civilized people we desire peace, but the only peace worth having is obtained by instant readiness to fight when wronged – not by unwillingness or inability to fight at all. Intelligent foresight in preparation and known capacity to stand well in battle are the surest safeguards against war. America will cease to be a great nation whenever her young men cease to possess energy, daring, and endurance, as well as the wish and the power to fight the nation's foes. No citizen of a free state should wrong any man; but it is not enough to merely refrain from infringing on the rights of others; he must also be able and willing to stand up for his own rights and those of his country against all comers, and he must be ready at any time to do his full share in resisting either malice domestic or foreign levy."

~ HENRY CABOT LODGE - THEODORE ROOSEVELT

 

"Hence it is that the fathers of these men and ours also, and they
Themselves likewise, being nurtured in all freedom and well born,
Have shown before all men many and glorious deeds in public and
private, deeming it their duty to fight for the cause of liberty
And the Greeks, even against Greeks, and against Barbarians for
All the Greeks."

~ PLATO - "Menexenus."

 

Often it is said...

...that not all laws are good laws.

Sometimes a law is enacted to protect our freedom and most of the time laws are enacted to serve the agenda of some special interest group seeking power which often restricts our freedom and, upon this occasion, it prevented the truly gallant from getting their well deserved due.

In 1917, the laws governing the award of the Medal of Honor ended all DOUBLE or multiple awards of the Medal of Honor. Perhaps back then congress believed that multiple awards might 'glorify' war and the warrior's way – 'make heroes out of 'em,' if you will.


Capt. Robert Howard is awarded the Medal of Honor by Pres. Richard Nixon at the White House
2 March 1971 (Photo courtesy Wesley Alexander)

Legend has it that, during the Vietnam War, one man deserved the Medal of Honor at least three times - all in a 13 month time frame; his storied career as one of the U.S.A's most elite soldiers. His name is Colonel Robert L. Howard (MOH) (b. July 11 1939 in Opelika, Alabama). The men that served with him said that he deserved all three.

Perhaps no man represented the quandary of the political and moral dilemma of the Vietnam War in the heart and mind of the United States of America better than Colonel Robert L. Howard (MOH) -- a highly decorated officer of the United States Army Special Forces and Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War.

With only a few near equals COL Howard (MOH) has arguably become one of the most highly decorated Soldier in American military history, yet few of our countrymen even knew who he was, or is. He is the most decorated soldier of the Vietnam War and the most decorated soldier living today.

So many times we only have what others have to say of our heroes so I thought it would be nice to hear some of his own words captured in this informal speech given then Company Commander C Co 75th Rangers 1/29 Infantry Captain Robert L. Howard (MOH)  approximately 1972 – 1973.

"Colonel Thieme, ladies and gentlemen, this roof don't fall in on me I hope I'll take a few minutes of your time tonight and say that I'm very happy and pleased to be here it's quite an honor to stand here tonight. I was on the platform last night. Its been a long time in this country since I've seen more patriotic Americans in this building then I've seen in some fifty states in the United States of America. I do appreciate the hospitality and the way that you've treated and received us here myself and our Rangers from Ft. Benning. And I hope if I can keep them calmed down we don't leave Houston with a bad reputation (audience laughter).


COL Howard Medal of Honor Vet Day Run 2003

When I was over at the hotel tonight prior to coming over here I saw a couple of them running in with sacks you know and they said that, Sir, I think we've got a party later on tonight. I said, that's great, real great. They said, what are you going to do tonight? I said I think I'll join your party. But anyway we do appreciate the hospitality. I appreciate the kind introduction from Colonel Thieme and I want to start my little speech tonight by saying that I'm very proud to say I'm an American and I'm proud to be an American, proud to wear the uniform of my country even though that's not respected now days very; much and its hard sometimes when you're a Soldier and you walk around and people look at you and they sneer at you. A short time back I was in San Francisco just returning from Vietnam, from another tour and I was on a standby flight. You know they give you a special rate if you're military. I think they knock the tax off or something anyway (audience laughter). Anyway I'd been waiting about three hours I hadn't seen my wife in two or three years. I called and told her I was back. And there was a bunch of students waiting for a plane also. Well they put the students on the plane before they did me and I got a little upset about it you know. The student rates are less then the military rates in this country. I asked the lady, I said, look I've been trying to get home and I've been gone a long time I would appreciate it if you would get me on a flight so I could get to Texas. I raised so much hail (hell) that they finally got me on a flight (audience laughter). Course there was a couple of students that got a little upset about it you know. When I was in uniform and one of them had on a pair of sandals and I just couldn't resist the temptation, (audience laughter and clapping). You know as Paratroopers in the Army there's one thing we take a lot of pride in wearing and that's boots (audience laughter) I won't elaborate on that point but they were glad to get me out of San Francisco (more laughter).


SFC Robert Howard carries NVA prisoner - CCC (Photo courtesy Jim Shorten)

Anyway I was so glad to get back to Texas, and I'll tell you it's quite an honor to be able to come to Texas and participate on the eve of the 198th year of this country that some 56 brave men started a few years ago. And I'm proud to say for 36 years I've participated as an American citizen. I remember when I was about seven years old you know, my dad was drafted and my mother had to go to work because back in those days the Army didn't take care of dependents like they do today and I had two brothers and two sisters and my mother I think she got something like $45 dollars a month to provide for four children. And my father was given six weeks of basic training and he was sent to Europe, and we didn't see him again for four years, six months, and about fourteen days, and he was drafted for one year. In fact he didn't write home very often either, because the mail system wasn't as good as we have today in this country. So when I went to Vietnam the first time I use to think about you know my dad didn't have a one year rotation he went over there for 4 years, 6 months, and some 14 days and when he got home he stayed drunk for two years. My mother solved that problem she just divorced him. That's the reason I ended up in Texas and I'm proud of that. And I'm proud of his service during the 2nd World War. So every time I pulled a tour in Vietnam I felt kind of guilty when my tour was up because I remembered that my father served his country for 4 years, 6 months and some 14 days, and he got shot up a few times too.

I can remember some of his old war stories. In those days you know you just didn't want to take the promotion because people got killed off so fast. If you were a P.F.C. they put you in charge of a company or platoon or you know they'd take the oldest man in the company and put him in charge so everybody just refused promotions. In fact when my dad got discharged they just promoted him to Master Sergeant, but he stayed a Private for 4 years, 5 months, prior to his discharge (audience laughter). And he was proud of that and that was something and I was very proud of his service. So every time I started to come back to this United States of America with the war going on in Vietnam I felt an obligation to serve in Vietnam.

And I'll tell you right now it was a very simple war and I'm a very simple man, but I'm an American and I believe what we done in Vietnam was right. And we had a president of this country that was not too popular but he said, "Before freedom is threatened Americans are challenged" (clapping). And I felt the challenge in Vietnam and I'm very proud of my service and I hope that I get to serve again some place somewhere in the fight for freedom for my country again someday. If I have anything to do about it I've got the best company in the United States Army, if I can just get the Army to believe that (clapping) my only problem is I've got to divert that excess energy that those young Rangers have in the right direction. You know we got to run 10 or 12 miles everyday singing, hollering, and cussing and everybody at Ft. Benning looks at us and says, there's those damn crazy Rangers running by. Well we are a little bit crazy, but we're aggressive.


MAJ Robert Howard (right) at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall dedication - 1982
(Photo courtesy John Plaster)

And I'd like to take a couple of minutes and talk about why I think success in combat and that's training. For some of you young men and you young ladies training is very important and we put a lot of emphasis on that in the Army. And I got a kind of bad reputation in the Army because I like to be honest with people you know. I don't like to tell lies and I hate phony people. And if I work for somebody that's a phony I always screw up because I tell him about it, (laughter) and I'll probably retire as a Captain (laughter) but it will be a happy retirement. But anyway just give yuh when I was in Vietnam my problem in fighting the enemy wasn't that great I mean the Vietcong was a guerilla so we fought like guerillas so we had a lot of success and we upset him, we use to go out and we done the same thing as he done. As Rangers we'd go out in small groups and find Battalions and Companies and we'd just pick at them and pull the same tactics that they pulled against our American Units and they couldn't believe it. Man we use to wait until 2 o'clock in the morning and let them go to sleep and then run around blow them up. (Laughter and clapping).

And I fought for five years with young men. I didn't fight with old men and you ladies will have to pardon me, but you know the professional Soldiers that I got in Vietnam professional noncommissioned officers and professional officers they weren't interested in fighting a war they were worried about some old lady back home with three or four kids pardon me or some wife back home with four kids psychologically they were upset. I didn't want those and that's one reason that I was successful because I was in a Unit that had a mission that gave me the opportunity to ask the men do you want to fight? Did you come to Vietnam to fight? Or did you come to draw $110 dollars a month combat pay? There's a difference. There were a lot of people who drew combat pay that never fired a round. But then there were a lot of people some 58,000 that drew their combat pay that didn't come back to this country. I'm not a poet by any means but I wrote a couple of I call them poems, but I don't know what the Colonel would call them, I didn't let him look at them.


SFC Robert Howard (front left) in Vietnam with some of the guys - MACVSOG (CCC). SGT Chuck Erickson (RT Colorado) is standing behind at far left. Erickson was later on the Son Tay Raid "Blueboy Element" chopper with Dick Meadows. (Photo courtesy John Plaster)

But back in '67 after one tour I was on my way home and I was on a plane and I just took the opportunity to write down some of the problems that I had motivating my men in combat and I want to share these with you tonight. In fact they accepted one of them at the Freedom Foundation. I got a $100 dollar savings bond for it (laughter). But this is some of the problems we had in Vietnam that I encountered when I went to Vietnam in 1964 and 1965. In those days you went over there to fight. In 1966 and 1967 and 1968 we went over there to fight, but when we were over there we would read the papers about them burning up the cities in the United States and people carrying VC flags and we didn't know what the hell to do you know. And that's what I want to share with you tonight; these are some of the problems I had as 1st Sergeant, as a Company Commander, as a Platoon leader, as a squad leader and everything else in Vietnam:"

'Take a man and make him a Soldier
and put him thousands of miles away from home,
empty his heart of all but blood,
make him live in rain, sweat, and mud,
this is the life he has to live,
his soul to God he's willing to give,
you peace boy's smoke your pipe
and prance your style, but over here its worth our while,
we have a lot of smoke, our style is freedom all.
You burn your draft cards, march at dawn,
and check your songs on the White House lawn,
you all want to ban the bomb,
the real enemy in war is in Vietnam,
but your war is at home, you use your drugs
and have your fun, then you refuse to use the gun,
there's nothing else for you to do,
My God help us in our prayers
for our fellow Americans that are willing to fight
for what seems to be right.
He has seen an arm of a friend a bloody shred,
he has heard so many times, this one here is dead,
drag him out of the sun. O my God they took his gun.
I've heard that hundreds of times,
ladies and gentlemen that one statement.
It's a large price to pay, not to live another day,
but he had the guts to fight and die.
He paid the price for what did he buy?
He bought your life an unusual way
by his unselfish devotion to duty.
He died for freedom and the American way.
Keep his memory and pride
and please God help those Americans who can't decide.'

"I dedicate this in memory of my fallen comrades in Vietnam in 1965 through 1971. I had the solemn duty of escorting a young Sergeant home from Vietnam, because the state of Minnesota, and it's a volunteer job and the only reason I volunteered for it was because his parents wrote to the Dept. of the Army and they requested that I escort his body home, because I served in combat with this young man some 18 months. And I finally got his body to the state of Minnesota.


COL Howard visiting troops in Iraq

I had a rough time getting him out of California getting the remains all squared away. And I got up to Minnesota, and this was like 1968 and I couldn't even get this young Soldier buried properly because they rounded up a bunch of Soldiers I believe from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas for the burial detail and they all showed up drunk. And I relieved them and that's the honest truth. I wrote to the Dept. of the Army and told them I would not participate in that. Twelve of them the officer in charge got relieved also because he spent 2 or 3 days in traveling up to Minnesota. But in the process of trying to get this young man buried I had to go to the American Legion and request that the American Legion provide a flag detail so that I could bury him properly.

Its quite upsetting to me because his father was a when I use the term religious he was a Christian. He didn't drink and he was a veteran of the 2nd World War. And he didn't like the American Legion in that town because the only reason people participated in it . . . the American Legion was because they had a lot of booze and legalized gambling and so forth and the place was open about 24 hours a day. And his father requested that I not go to the American Legion. And I said, Sir if I can get them to promise that they'll stay sober for just long enough to participate in the ceremony will you accept that? He thought about it a couple of hours and he came back and said yes. He said if you can get those people to promise to me that they won't drink for one day that I will allow them to provide the flag detail for that burial.


COL R Howard MOH

Well the undertaker in the town was a drunk too and the father didn't like him either, and it was really a problem. Anyway I went to all those people and I requested that they honor and make a promise to this young mans father that they would stay sober for just 24 hours and provide that detail. And he accepted that. And the day that we buried him, there were a bunch of protestors from the University of Minnesota showed up at that time and I thought that we were going to have to fight to get the young man buried. But anyway I've often thought about that. That young man served in Vietnam almost two years and then I had to bring him home and go to the trouble of trying to get him buried properly and provide him the ceremony that was more then appropriate for him and his family. And the only thing he accomplished in his tour in Vietnam was that he kept a bunch of people sober for 24 hours. And that was his testimony to God or somebody. He at least accomplished that. And that is what he got for his duty that was back in 1968. But I've seen those times change a little bit recently. There's not a lot of riots going on in this country now, there's still a little bit of protesting. But I think our law has finally tightened up in some areas and we're beginning to please our people. I think there is some concern now about the rights of an American and what we should do as Americans. I've seen that change slowly and its changing, this country is going through a transition after every war you go through it you know.

We're down to a point right now where we're begging people to come into the Army and I don't like that. And you can see that in these young men right here. When they come into my company I tell them I'd rather have 5 good men then 200 Sergeants, because I'll accomplish with those 5 men what you will accomplish with 200 Sergeants. And I like to be honest with people. And I think we've got to start being honest as Americans and start concerning ourselves about this country. And we've got to start dedicating ourselves to the principles that made this country free. And we can start tomorrow. I really enjoy being here with you people. It's really an inspiration to me, to my Soldiers. We really look forward to putting on a good demonstration for you tomorrow. Thank you very much."

(long, loud clapping by the audience).

Colonel Thieme's closing remarks to Captain Howard (MOH):

"Well I'll tell you when our country is going to start improving ... when we get honest Soldiers in places of government where policy is made instead of politicians who are seeking something for themselves instead of living by principle.  Captain Howard, it's always a pleasure to have in Berachah Church a man who lives by principles."

(The end)


Let's take a look at his Amazing list of Awards and Decorations

Medal of Honor
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Cross (with one oak leaf cluster)
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (with three oak leaf clusters) (4 awards)
Valor device
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star (with three oak leaf clusters and "V" device) (4 awards)
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart (with a silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters) (8 awards)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal] (with two oak leaf clusters)
Valor device
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Medal (with "V" Device and numeral 3. One award for heroism and two for aerial achievement)
Joint Service Commendation
Valor device
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal (with "V" device and one each silver and bronze oak leaf clusters. 4 awards for valor and 3 for achievement)
Joint Service Achievement
Army Achievement
  • Good Conduct Medal, 4 Good Conduct Loops (4 awards)
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Armed Forces Reserve Medal
  • Vietnam Service Medal
  • NCO Professional Development Ribbon with 2 device
  • Army Overseas Ribbon
  • Army Service Ribbon
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, w/3 Service stars (3 awards)
  • Army Presidential Unit Citation, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster
  •   Presidential Unit Citation (United States) 2001, Studies and Observations Group
  • Navy Unit Commendation
  • Army Meritorious Unit Citation

Foreign decorations

  • Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60 device
  • Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star (Corps citation)
  • Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star (Division citation)
  • Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star (Regiment or Brigade citation)
  • Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal 2nd Award
  • Vietnam Wound Medal
  • Vietnam Civil Actions Medal 2nd Award
  • Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation with Palm, 1st Oak Leaf Cluster (Unit citation)
  • Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Samil Medal)

Badges, qualifications and tabs

  • Ranger Tab
  • Special Forces Tab
  • Combat Infantryman Badge
  • Aircrew Badge
  • Master Parachutist Badge
  • Pathfinder Badge
  • Air Assault Badge
  • Expert Infantryman's Badge
  • Vietnamese Ranger Badge
  • Vietnamese Master Parachute Badge
  • Thai Master Parachute Wings
  • Korean Master Parachute Badge
  • Thai Balloonist Badge
  • French Parachutist Badge
  • SOG: The Secret Wars of America's Commandos in Vietnam, by John Plaster Secret Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG, by John Plaster
  • Inducted into the Ranger Hall Of Fame, 2005

Unlike the Alvin York or the Audie Murphy before him, Howard was not touted as a national hero by the media; and no Hollywood movie was made depicting his extraordinary exploits. Of course, none of this bothered the quiet, unassuming Howard.

However, he did appear in two movies, both featuring John Wayne.  He made a parachute jump in The Longest Day and he was an Airborne Instructor in The Green Berets.

Howard enlisted into the Army at Montgomery, Alabama  before rising to become a 'mustang' officer and finally retiring as Colonel. He remained in the Army and retired as a full Colonel, after 36 years of active service, in September 1992.


SOG Warriors - Robert Howard (left) and John Plaster (right) - Ft. Lewis, WA - 4 June 2005
(Photo courtesy John Plaster)

As a staff sergeant of the highly-classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor on three separate occasions for three individual actions during a thirteen months spanning 1967-1968. The first two nominations were downgraded to the award of the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star due to the covert nature of the operations in which Howard participated. As a Sergeant First Class of the same organization, he risked his life during a rescue mission in Cambodia on 30 December, 1968, while second in command of a platoon-sized Hachet force that was searching for missing American soldier Robert Scherdin, and finally received the Medal of Honor.

It can be argued that Howard is the most highly decorated combat soldier in U.S. military history. Col. Howard currently resides in Texas and spends much of his free time working with veterans. He also takes periodic trips to Iraq to visit with active duty troops, including a trip to Camp Taqaddum, Iraq), with two other Medal of Honor recipients of his era retired Capt. John J. McGinty, III U.S.M.C. and retired CSM Gary L. Littrell  U.S.A. on 11 November 2006.

The Three missions which lead to his award.

The First mission

While leading a covert Military Assistance Command, Vietnam Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), SOG platoon-sized mission in southeastern Laos on 16 November, 1967, Sergeant First Class Howard carried out actions that would ultimately  lead to his being recommended for his nation's highest honor.

While the main body of his platoon destroyed an enemy cache, Howard's team came upon four North Vietnamese Army soldiers, whom he shot. The team was then pinned down by heavy machine gun fire. Howard first eliminated a sniper and then charged the machine gun position, killing its occupants. When a second machine gun opened up, he crawled forward to within point-blank range and threw a hand grenade, disabling that gun.

When more of the North Vietnamese took over the same gun, Howard stood in the open and fired a light anti-tank weapon, knocking it out once again. The team was then successfully extracted by helicopter. Although recommended for the Medal of Honor, Howard's award was downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. This would be the first of three recommendations within 13 months for the Medal of Honor for Robert Howard.

The Second Mission

A few days later, Howard accompanied an SOG, FOB-2 Hatchet Platoon into Laos. SOG Hatchet  platoons were platoons strength segments of  SOG Hatch Force companies was organized similar to a U.S. infantry unit (with about 120 men), except American Green Berets filled the NCO and officer positions with the foot soldiers either Chinese Nungs or, Montagnard tribesmen as the forces' main body of troopers .

After four days in the area, on 19 November, 1968, the force was ambushed by Vietnamese troops, including a Soviet-built PT-76 tank. Braving intense fire, Howard crept forward and knocked out the PT-76 with an anti-tank rocket. After a medivac helicopter was shot down, Howard, already wounded, charged forward 300 yards through North Vietnamese fire to lead the two pilots and a wounded door gunner to safety. He was again wounded, this time by 14 pieces of shrapnel, but all that this seemed to do was aggravate him.

He charged the Vietnamese, killed two and dragged back a third as a prisoner. North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire halted the extraction of the platoon until the following morning, when Howard, already perforated multiple times, moved forward and silenced a 37mm anti-aircraft gun, allowing the extraction to be completed. For the second time, Howard was recommended for the Medal of Honor, but his award was again downgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross.

This series of events illustrates the difficulties faced when special operations personnel exhibited extraordinary bravery in denied areas.  Because recommendations for decorations always stipulated the location and circumstances of the action, and since the award of such a high decoration became public knowledge, the citation would have to be changed to place the action within territorial South Vietnam as we were not 'officially' waging war in Laos. The U.S. Congress and President were loath to create any sense of falsehood about the actions of the nation's most highly decorated military personnel, so, in many instances awards were down-graded to keep the recipient out of the limelight.

The Third Mission

On 30 December, 1968 Howard was serving as a member of a 40-man Bright Light rescue mission into northeastern Cambodia. The unit was in search of MACV-SOG Private First Class Robert Scherdin, who had been separated from his recon team. Bypassing a North Vietnamese Army company, Howard was leading his men up a hill when he and Lieutenant Jim Jerson were wounded by a land mine. While administering first aid to Jerson, a bullet struck one of the wounded man's ammunition pouches, detonating several magazines. His fingers in shreds, Howard was dragging Jerson off the hill when he was shot in the foot.

The remaining 20 men were organized by Howard, who administered first aid, directed their fire, and encouraged them to resist. After three and one-half hours under attack, Howard prepared for a fight to the death. The team was saved from that fate, however, when an emergency night extraction took them off without any further casualties. As badly wounded as he was, Howard was the last man to board a helicopter. After his third recommendation in 13 months, Robert Howard was finally awarded a well-deserved Medal of Honor.

 

"The day that President Nixon draped the Medal of Honor's pale blue ribbon around Howard's neck, I sat before the TV in my parents' living room watching the evening news. Coming on top of his previous decorations - the Distinguished Service Cross and multiple Silver and Bronze Stars, plus eight Purple Hearts - Howard's combat awards exceeded those of Audie Murphy, America's legendary World War II hero, until then our most highly decorated serviceman. At last, Howard would get his due. I flipped station to station, but not one of the networks - not CBS or NBC or ABC - could find ten seconds to mention Captain Robert Howard or his indomitable courage. I found nothing about him in the newspapers. Twisted by the antiwar politics of that era, many in the media believed that to recognize a heroic act was to glorify war. They simply chose not to cover the ceremony. It might as well not have happened."

~ Excerpt from John Plaster's recent book SECRET COMMANDOS Behind Enemy Lines with the Elite Warriors of SOG - pg. 303

 

Well Hell!

If a heroic act glorifies war let us forever glorify war and the service of volunteer, highly trained citizen soldiers operating behind the lines around the globe no matter what the action. With less than one percent of American's serving in the U.S. Armed Forces few citizens will ever have an opportunity to fall into the circumstances and combat exploits an elite soldier like COL Robert Howard (MOH) or today's Special Operations Forces personnel may encounter. So, let us pass his exploits down to every school kid old enough to read.  Let us never forget what COL Howard (MOH) and those men like him who willing to put themselves in harms way before us. Men like today's SOF, who follow his legacy -- without question have an equal stage to a nation of free men as much as any heritage the U.S. of A. still endears to her citizenry.

It is said by the people who knew COL Howard (MOH) best that his best work began after he returned from Vietnam. I think this true because he was a tremendous inspiration, leader, trainer and mentor to many of our Special Forces and Rangers that had the privilege of learning from him. It is a known fact but little thought of that subordinates often take on traits of those who lead them and in the case of Col Howard it is true he continues to have an invisible impact with our Country and its Operators .both on our current war and future wars due to the great legacy Col Howard has passed down leading them by example to become some of the top leaders within the Special Operations community.

COL Howard (MOH) did some amazing things both in Vietnam and after. One thing that stands out was how he has never forgotten our POWs and MIA's that never returned home. Col Howard is a man of great moral courage and this was put to the test after the Vietnam War. Col Howard was faced with the knowledge that our government had abandoned many of our POWs and MIA's and was failing in and blocking efforts to rescue known POWs still alive in captivity. Col Howard had to bear this knowledge as he continued to serve our country which was betraying his fellow soldiers that had risked it all to preserve our freedom. For a warrior there is nothing worse than leaving a fallen comrade behind. Col Howard remained true to his character and continued to serve honorably and at the same time put his reputation, career and life at risk to try and rescue those left behind and forgotten.

To get a look at what Col Howard and others like him risked for our forgotten POWs I recommend you read the book KISS THE BOYS GOODBYE, by Monika Jensen-Stevenson & William Stevenson. In her book we get a penetrating and enlightened look of what COL Howard and  others did and what changed the fate of their lives in their attempts to rescue our forgotten POWs:

"After the war Col. Howard became more and more convinced by first hand reports of many of his comrades that POWs had not only been abandoned by the US government, but that substantial numbers were alive. For this reason He swore an affidavit in support of Major Mark Smith's efforts to sue the US government and force it to act on specific ."intelligence about live prisoners. This got Howard and Smith along with everyone who backed them into hot water with the US government and a smear campaign began against all of them. In the brief section below, reprinted from the book Kiss The Boys Goodbye we see COl Howard, at the time through the eyes of military attorney Mark Waple who acted for Smith and MacIntire in their lawsuit, Smith vs. The President on behalf of POWs.. We catch a impression of the Howard who was as brave in tackling moral and spiritual evil as he was on the battlefield. Despite continuing attacks on his character for doing so, Howard never gave up on his fight to bring POWs home."

The Following is from the chapter, "Betrayal" – "Kiss The Boys Goodbye":

"Colonel Howard had come to see him, he explained, like others had, because word got around pretty fast about what was being done to Smith and McIntire. The world of special operations was like a small, exclusive men's club. "Guys know each other's reputations," he said. "They've got terrific 'esprit de corps'."

(... I had been told about a colonel, one of the big guys in covert warfare. It must be Howard. He'd been posted from Asia to Europe, his orders hardly allowing his feet to touch ground in America.) Waple said, "The only free time he had in America was a Sunday. And he gave it all to me! His one Sunday in  America. He spent it driving across the country from -- I can't even tell you the name of the air base -- so he could swear out an affidavit for me. The rest of his Sunday was spent driving back to board the next plane to West Germany."

Waple had warned Howard that, if he joined the lawsuit, it could hurt his career. The colonel brushed the warnings aside. He said, "They're trying to pretend we'll destroy morale among the troops by letting all this stuff come out. I say we'll do more real harm to ourselves as a nation by hushing it up."

That Sunday in Waple's office the colonel swore under oath that as chief of the Combat Services Coordinating Team (CSCT) -- which acted as a liaison with the Korean special forces -- he was sent to check out Smith and McIntire's charge that a recent mission to rescue POWs had been compromised by American officials. Howard became convinced by three years' evidence, gathered by Smith and McIntire, that Americans were alive and captive in Laos and Vietnam. He had told his superiors this, and gave Smith and McIntire a clean bill of health. It was then that all three were sent on a training mission. It appeared they were to be parachuted into another part of Thailand.

But the three checked the flight route with the pilot. That was an unforeseen circumstance. On covert operations, mock or real, each group followed its own orders in accordance with clandestine methods, in which units were told only what they needed to know. But the SFD-K team had become uneasy about elements that seemed abnormal. They asked to see the secret flight plan.

This tied in with what Sergeant McIntire had told me, on film, about this mission: "it was gonna be a survival problem. We were to jump into one of the Thai camps and navigate our way back out. But the original aircraft got recalled. The replacement aircraft had its own flight plan, which was unusual because normally the crew made their flight plan when they joined us. The -- we were suddenly left totally alone. Whenever we have an operational training exercise, people come to watch and observe. This time, all the hangers-on disappeared. And we got chow, radios, weapons, like for a real operation. A senior Thai officer came over and said, 'Listen, if you guys need helicopter support, if you need ammunition, we'll be glad to help you out.' Now, the Thais didn't have those kinds of assets, so this was unusual, to make that offer. Another Thai officer asked me, 'What are all these other aircraft doing" Are they part of this?"

"And the other aircraft were a type nobody had in the Pacific area at this time -- they'd come specially from the States. Suddenly I got aircraft that don't belong there, I got the offer of arms and helicopters, I got a C-132 to myself with nobody to control me. And I got a crew that's got a flight plan they don't know about."

Colonel Howard, Major Smith, and Sergeant McIntire went into a huddle with the C-132 captain. Ifr that hadn't happened, the Air Force would have followed its orders, and Colonel Howard would have followed his orders and jumped with Smith and McIntire into what they'd been told was a Thai training area. In fact it was a few miles the other way -- inside Laos, where the CIA fought its secret war, in a region thick with Communist forces.

I said, 'It's a trick!' McIntire had told me, "I said, 'We ain't gonna do this'1" and I cancelled the flight."

"But they thought we went," Smith had interjected. "All the hangers-on the usual official observers had cleared the field before we aborted the flight. To this day there's people thing we parachuted into Laos."

It would have been a convenient way to dispose of combat soldiers who defied the official contradiction of their own intelligence reports. And Smith's immediate commander, Colonel Howard was sure of it.

When Colonel Howard had turned up in Korea, against all expectations he face charges of illegal cross-border operations -- before it was realized the training mission was never completed. Howard was then posted to Germany. Major Smith was not promoted, and consequently was hit with mandatory retirement when his lawsuit Smith vs. The President was filed.

Howard had concluded in his statement, "There are in fact live Americans in captivity, and there is an ongoing effort in the Defense Intelligence Agency to ignore this."

(Reprinted with permission of the authors Bill Stevenson and Monika Jensen-Stevenson. For those who wish to read more of Kiss The Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POWs in Vietnam, it will soon be available, at no charge, in serial form on the authors' website: www.myfamilymemoirs.com)

We salute COL Howard and thank him with much gratitude and appreciation for his past service and continued service to the United States traveling abroad to our war zones giving speeches to our troops  and we hope his legend will live on to inspire future patriots and warriors continue living a long and gallant life.

HOOAH!

Dave


Robert L. Howard Links of Interest

Howards MOH Citation

Robert L. Howard Tribute


Top 50 Most Highly Decorated U.S. Military Personnel of All Time

43 Medal of Honor recipients gather

Songs for Vets / POW / MIA


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Let Us Know What You Think About Last Month's Newsletter


Awesome great insight I have made reading your articles a task for my whole platoon. So that not only do I benefit from it, but all those who serve with me do too. Soon we head back to the conflict and I know all the articles you've written have given us a greater understanding, perpsective and appreciation of the life we have chosen.

SSG Ramon Rivera PLT SGT 3rd Plt 855 M.P. Co


...to SURVIVE is the ultimate goal! My Name WAS DREW NOLAN, I have survived years of MENTAL torture and for my own reasons I did what I did. If life was easy it would be cheap... life is never cheap, from sperm to egg, and all that happens until old age... we struggle, the goal is to SURVIVE! I have, and will continue to SURVIVE... it's just a bitch that we don't get to enjoy the in-between! I so enjoy what you have to say... there is truth in there... but only those who have to struggle does the flower smell the sweetest!

Drew Nolan


One word: outstanding.

Each month is a banquet of food for thought - thanks!

Tony Rowley


I have read for years about the military (I was a US marine) but one thing that comes to mind is the COP. I have been one for 29 years and am a supervisor in a major So Cal. department. The military deals with stress on the average 3-5 years. The COP deals with it for 20+, and is in harms way for the same. We always carry a gun, and unlike combat don't have a safe zone. COP's are warriors their whole lives but are not supposed to show stress or emotion. The military is set up to deal with stress etc. but what Law Enforcement department does enough to identify and or treat this. A military person gets lifetime medical and the COP who has the same amount of time gets nothing and usally has to pay for his.

SWAT and the other assignments are great, but what about the officer that works day in and day out, NOBODY CARES. I think that cops are just as much warriors as any military person.

Robert M. Hards, Sgt.


Dave,

I cried with pride and then gave thanks for your message, having spent over two years on my life in a hospital, having been shot and set on fire and not supposed to have ever gotten out of a wheel chair twice. I have on prayer when I wake, to make myself of maximum service to my fellow man, mainly vets.

I founded and run the first and most diverse outdoor TV show which honors vets,pd,fd through paid for outdoor adventures (web site artofdeception.com click on RED WHITE BLUE. I am also now terminal and suffer chronic pain and it is messages like your, which get me out of bed and into the good fight. God bless you sir.

W.R. Tony Dukes
Fort Worth TEXAS


Only one word "EXCEPTIONAL"!

Jim Haviley


Dave, your message was wonderful. I have a son somewhere in Iraq and passed this on to him. God Bless you.

Brian Kost


Dave, Im a little late with my response to your letter but let me tell you thats awsome ,and those scenarios are all exactly to the point. Thats the way to get the folks inform and educated. HOOAH

H. Carrion


GOD BLESS THIS AIRLINE CAPTAIN

My lead flight attendant came to me and said, 'We have an H.R. on this flight'. H.R. stands for human remains.

'Are they military?' I asked. 'Yes', she said. 'Is there an escort?' I asked. 'Yes, I already assigned him a seat'.

Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck. You can board him early', I said.

A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck. He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier. He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier. The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still alive and still with us.

My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ', he said. He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words on his own. I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers. The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand. He left the flight deck to find his seat.

We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful departure. About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight attendant in the cabin. 'I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is on board', he said. He then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home. The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the soldier was in before we left. We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia . The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for him and the family to bear.

He had asked the flight attendant if there was anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken off the airplane. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice when he asked me if there was anything I could do. 'I'm on it', I said. I told him that I would get back to him.

Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio. There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to the telephone of the dispatcher. I was in direct contact with the dispatcher. I explained the situation I had onboard with the family and what it was the family wanted. He said he understood and that he would get back to me.

Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family. I sent a text message asking for an update. I saved the return message from the dispatcher and this following is the text:

'Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on this now and I had to check on a few things. Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft. The team will escort the family to the ramp and planeside. A van will be used to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only. When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp and planeside to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home. Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our condolences on to the family. Thanks.'

I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job. I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on to the father. The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, 'You have no idea how much this will mean to them.' Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing.

After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area. The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway. It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and exit. When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told that all traffic was being held for us.

'There is a team in place to meet the aircraft', we were told. It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family from getting off the airplane. As we approached our gate, I asked the copilot to tell the ramp controller we were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers. He did that and the ramp controller said, 'Take your time.'

I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake. I pushed the public address button and said, 'Ladies and gentleman, this is your Captain speaking. I have stopped short of our gate to make a special announcement. We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect. His name is private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life. Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today is Army Sergeant XXXXXXX. Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter. Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.'

We continued the turn to the gate, came to a stop and started our shutdown procedures. A couple of minutes later I opened the cockpit door. I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft. When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping. Words of 'God Bless You', I'm sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with their loved one.

Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.

I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety in these United States of America .


FIRST FA-22 FIGHTERS DELIVERED TO LANGLEY

These are Great In-flight Photos of the F/A-22 as the first Aircraft Delivery was being made to Langley AFB in Va. Langley is to be first Operational AFB for the F/A-22. It is a very beautiful AFB, located in a picturesque location, as you can see in these photos, near Norfolk and Hampton, Va.

The Aircraft flying along with the F/A-22 in the last of these photos is the F-15, which will be replaced by the F/A-22 which is several times better than the F-15.

In Actual In-flight (simulated) Combat Operations against the F-15, two F/A-22s were able to operate without detection while it went Head to Head against (8) F-15s. The F/A-22s scored Missile Hits (Kills) against all the F-15 Aircraft and the F/A-22s were never Detected by either the F-15s or Ground Based Radar. Maj. Gen. Rick Lewis said: 'The Raptor Operated Against All Adversaries with Virtual Impunity; Ground Based Systems Couldn't Engage and NO Adversary Aircraft Survived'!

F/A-22 - America's Most Advanced Fighter Aircraft for the 21st Century!

They're a titanium and carbon fiber dagger. They're so advanced that if their on-board locator is switched off even our own satellites can lose track of them. They're the first military aircraft ever built that is equipped with a 'black-out button.'

What that means is this ...

The best conditioned fighter pilots are capable of maintaining consciousness up to in the vicinity of 15+ G. The Raptor is capable of making 22+ G turns. If someday an adversary builds a missile that is capable of catching up to one of these airplanes and a Raptor pilot sees that a strike is imminent, he hits the 'b.o.b.' and the airplane makes a virtual U-turn, leaving the missile to pass right on by.

They know that in the process he'll temporarily lose consciousness, so the Raptor then automatically comes back to straight and level flight until he wakes back up.





An unusual officer from three countries

Jerry Hogan - Columnist

Walking into the Headquarters of the Green Berets 10th Special Forces Group in Bad Tolz, Germany as a newly assigned Lieutenant in June of 1961, not knowing what to expect, was the start of the second best assignment I had in the US Army (the best was commanding a Battalion of over 700 men and women in the 8th Infantry Division in Europe during the Cold War).

This Special Forces Group is the oldest in the Army having been established in June, 1952, after the Army was convinced following World War II that, based upon experiences during that war of successful operations behind enemy lines with elements of the old Office of Strategic Services (OSS), it would be prudent to retain that capability of unconventional warfare. The Group was specifically formed to conduct partisan operations behind the Red Army lines in the event of a Soviet invasion of Europe.

With this type of mission, it soon became apparent that within the ranks of Special Forces Soldiers were some rather unusual people. Since the mission of the Group was unconventional warfare behind enemy lines, one of the main considerations for staffing the units that would be deployed was the ability of the men to blend into the local citizenry. Obviously a man who spoke fluent Hungarian would be a tremendous asset for a group going behind enemy lines in Hungary. (In addition it would probably give him a much better chance to stay alive.) The same would apply for Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, and other eastern European countries targeted for US operations. Likewise, people who were experts in the culture, habits, and appearance of the natives would increase the probability of successful operations behind the lines.

Added to these needed characteristics was the ability for a man to operate in the unusual environment of unconventional operations. More than likely, the insertion of the Soldiers behind the enemy lines would be done by parachute and then their only contact with other Americans would be by radio; their war would be fought, for however long it took, with the native forces behind the enemy lines. Former OSS operators, Ranger, and Airborne Soldiers from the American Army gravitated to this unit. Another special group of men also were there; the "Lodge Bill" troops. These were immigrants from politically persecuted countries who could become US citizens by serving in the US Army.

One of the most illustrious soldiers from this category was a fellow officer by the name of Larry Thorne.

Larry was a Finn who entered the Finnish Army in 1938 at the age of 19. War broke out between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939 and for the next six years he fought the Russian Army, first as an officer in the Finnish Army; then as an officer in the German SS after Finland surrendered to the Soviets in 1944. While in the Finnish Army he became famous in the period of 1941-1944 when a unit was created under him to penetrate and fight deep behind enemy lines. His unit became so good and so famous the Russians put an unheard of $650,000 bounty on his head. Leading his unit, he received the highest Finnish medal, their Medal of Honor, for his activities behind enemy lines.

When the Finns and the Russians signed their peace treaty, Thorne was dissatisfied with the terms so he went to Germany where he joined the German SS to continue his fight against the Russians. In the last stages of the war he surrendered to the British and eventually returned to Finland after escaping a British POW camp. When he returned, he was then arrested by the Finns, even though he had received their Medal of Honor, and was sentenced to 6 years in prison for treason. He was then pardoned by the Finnish president in December of 1948.

Escaping from Finland after his pardon, he went to Sweden where he fell in love with a Swedish Finn. He hoped to establish a career before he was married so he disguised himself as a seaman and got on a ship headed for Venezuela. Arriving there, he then got on a ship headed for the United States; when it got near Mobile, Alabama, in the Gulf of Mexico, he jumped off the ship and swam to shore. He made it to New York where there was a strong Finnish community and was successful in getting a job as a carpenter. In 1953 he was granted a permit of residency through an Act of Congress that was sponsored by "Wild Bill" Donovan, the former head of the OSS group during WWII.

In 1954 he joined the US Army as a Private under the provisions of the Lodge Act. And as you would expect, he soon ended up in the US Special Forces organization. Going to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he became an instructor at the Special Warfare School where he taught survival, skiing, mountaineering, and guerrilla tactics. He also learned parachuting and was soon an expert in this area.

Rising through the ranks quickly, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1957 and then promoted to Captain in 1960. From 1958-1962 he was in the 10th Special Forces Group and this is where I got to know him.

In 1962, as a Captain, he led his Special Forces team onto the highest mountain in Iran to recover the bodies from an American C-130 airplane that had crashed and also to recover classified material on the plane. While others had failed before, Thorne and his men did what they had set out to do.

In 1963 he was assigned to Vietnam where he earned the Bronze Star medal for valor and five Purple Hearts for wounds. Here most of his combat was from isolated outposts on tops of hills where Special Forces camps were established. On his second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965, the helicopter he was riding in crashed. He was declared missing and then dead in 1966 even though the body had not been recovered.

In 1999 a recovery team made it to the site of the helicopter crash and recovered the bodies of Major Thorne and the other passengers. In 2003 he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

He was the only American POW/MIA to fight communism under three flags: Finland, Germany, and America. Today in Finland he is remembered as a hero and at Fort Carson, Colorado, here in the States, the main headquarters building of the current location of the 10th Special Forces is named Thorne Hall. And so the story goes, in the movie "Green Berets", the part played by John Wayne, Captain Sven Kornie, was based in large part on Larry Thorne!

Larry was just one example of Lodge Bill Soldiers who served in Special Forces following WWII. Others included a Sergeant from Poland, another from Czechoslovak who was a veteran of the Maquis and the French Foreign Legion, "Frenchy" Szarck who was a Pole and a veteran of four Armies, another who served in the Romanian and German armies, and the list goes on. Clearly the expertise these men brought to our Army helped establish the Special Forces we know today.

And my own personal observation, "They were great Soldiers who loved to soldier!"


AN ELOQUENT MARINE

It's freezing here. I'm sitting on hard, cold dirt between rocks and shrubs at the base of the Hindu Kush Mountains along the Dar 'yoi Pomir River watching a hole that leads to a tunnel that leads to a cave. Stake out, my friend, and no pizza delivery for thousands of miles.

I also glance at the area around my ass every ten to fifteen seconds to avoid another sco rpion sting. I've actually given up battling the chig gers and sand fleas, but them scorpions give a jolt like a cattle prod. Hurts like a bastard.

The antidote tastes like transmission fluid but God bless the Marine Corps for the five vials of it in my pack.

The one truth the Taliban cannot escape is that, believe it or not, they are human beings, which means they have to eat food and drink water. That requires couriers and that's where an old bounty hunter like me comes in handy. I track the couriers, locate the tunnel entrances and storage facilities, type the info into the handheld, shoot the coordinates up to the satellite link that tells the air commanders where to drop the hardware, we bash some heads for a while, then I track and record the new movement.

It's all about intelligence. We haven't even brought in the snipers yet. These scurrying rats have no idea what they're in for. We are but days away from cutting off supply lines and allowing the eradication to begin.

I dream of bin Laden waking up to find me standing over him with my boot on his throat as I spit a bloody ear into his face and plunge my nickel plated Bowie knife through his frontal lobe. But you know me. I'm a romantic. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This country blows, man. It's not even a country. There are no roads, there's no infrastructure, there's no government. This is an inhospitable, rock pit shit hole ruled by eleventh century warring tribes. There are no jobs here like we know jobs.

Afghanistan offers two ways for a man to support his family: join the opium trade or join the army. That's it. Those are your options. Oh, I forgot, you can also live in a refugee camp and eat plum-sweetened, crushed beetle paste and squirt mud like a goose with stomach nb sp;flu if that's your idea of a party. But the smell al one of those 'tent cities of the walking dead' is enough to hurl you into the poppy fields to cheerfully scrape bulbs for eighteen hours a day.

I've been living with these Tajiks and Uzbeks and Turkmen and even a couple of Pushtins for over a month and a half now and this much I can say for sure: These guys, all of 'em, are Huns. Actual, living Huns. They LIVE to fight. It's what they do. It's ALL they do.

They have no respect for anything, not for their families or for each other or for themselves. They claw at one another as a way of life. They play polo with dead calves and force their five-year-old sons into human cockfights to defend the family honor. Huns, roaming packs of savage, heartless beasts who feed on each others barbarism. Cavemen with AK47's. Then again, maybe I'm just cranky.

I'm freezing my ass off o n this stupid hill because my lap warmer is running out of juice and I can't recharge it until the sun comes up in a few hours.

Oh yeah! You like to write letters, right? Do me a favor, Bizarre. Write a letter to CNN and tell Wolf and Anderson and that awful, sneering, pompous Aaron Brown to stop calling the Taliban 'smart.' They are not smart. I suggest CNN invest in a dictionary because the word they are looking for is 'cunning.' The Taliban are cunning, like jackals and hyenas and wolverines. They are sneaky and ruthless and, when confronted, cowardly. They are hateful, malevolent parasites who create nothing and destroy everything else. Smart. Pfft. Yeah, they're real smart.

They've spent their entire lives reading only one book (and not a very good one, as books go) and consider hygiene and indoor plumbing to be products of the devil. They're still figuring out how to wor k a Bic lighter. Talking to a Taliban warrior about impr oving his quality of life is like trying to teach an ape how to hold a pen; eventually he just gets frustrated and sticks you in the eye with it.

OK, enough. Snuffle will be up soon so I have to get back to my hole. Covering my tracks in the snow takes a lot of practice but I'm good at it. Please, I tell you and my fellow Americans to turn off the TV sets and move on with your lives.

The story line you are getting from CNN and other news agencies is utter bullshit and designed not to deliver truth but rather to keep you glued to the screen through the commercials. We've got this one under control The worst thing you guys can do right now is sit around analyzing what we're doing over here because you have no idea what we're doing and, really, you don't want to know. We are your military and we are doing what you sent us here to do.

You wanna help? Buy Bonds America!

Saucy Jack
Reconnaissance Marine in Afghanistan
Semper Fidelis

Word of Truth

The Word of Truth - Alive and Powerful

The Word of Truth

Suffering Part II

By Rev G.J. Rako
LTC (Ret)
IN USAR

Pain and suffering in life is an absolute guarantee. No one will escape adversity of various types in this life. However, stress in the soul often produced by suffering is optional. Most humans are weighed down by such stress as fear, worry, anxiety, and guilt. These debilitating sins are destructive to the soul. Allowed to continue they will also begin to destroy the body. All of this is unnecessary. God in His matchless grace has provided a means of perfect peace in this life.

Phil. 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

2 Thes. 3:16 May the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ your only opportunity to combat stress in the soul caused by adversity is to execute the command found in 2 Peter 3:18 and many other passages of scripture.

2 Peter 3:18 … but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you have not made the most important decision in this life, to believe in the person and the work of Christ, then take a few moments to consider who and what Jesus Christ is, and what He has done for you personally.

Isa. 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isa. 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD(God the Father) hath laid on Him(God the Son) the iniquity of us all.

1 Peter 2:24 Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Because of His great compassion mercy and love, eternal God became a man, lived a perfect sinless life, voluntarily restricted the independent use of His deity, and fulfilled the Fathers plan by going to the cross. While He hung on the cross God the Father gathered all the sins of every man, woman, and child, whoever lived or would live and imputed those sins to Christ. Then He judged those sins in His own body on the cross. He was buried and raised after three days in the tomb.

Lam. 3:20-25 Surely my soul remembers and is humbled within me. This I recall to mind and therefore have confidence, it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. The Lord is my portion says my soul; therefore I will have confidence in Him. The Lord is good to those that wait for Him, to those that seek Him.

The greatest act of selfless love and sacrifice was carried out that day on the cross. Jesus Christ provided the so great salvation. After salvation was accomplished, He said “Finished.” The work of providing mankind a way back to God was complete. Since the spiritual death of Adam, all people are condemned. Spiritual death means separation from God.

1 Cor. 15:20-22 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Each of us, born spiritually dead, and separated from God, deserve to die. We are born physically alive but spiritually dead. We are born with a sin nature and it will not take us very long to commit our first act of personal sin. God’s perfect righteousness and justice can have nothing to do with sin except to judge it.

Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no judgment to those that are in Christ Jesus.

God has provided a means for us to escape this death, by the free gift of eternal life.
Consider yourself standing before the judge waiting to hear your sentence. Then the judge looks you in the eye and says “guilty, you will be executed for your crimes.” Just then, out of nowhere, Jesus Christ stands in front of you and says, “I will take this man’s punishment.” The judge accepts the substitute and justice is served. Jesus Christ dies in your place, as your substitute.

This is exactly what took place on the cross two thousand years ago. At that time, Jesus Christ became your substitute and died in your place, so that you might have eternal life.

Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up as a substitute for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Appropriating this gift of eternal life requires a simple act of faith...“faith alone in Christ alone,” is the only way.

Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

John 11:25 Jesus said, “ I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and he who lives and believes in me shall never die, do you believe this?”

John 3:16 Whosoever believes in Christ shall never perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:36 He that believes on the Son has eternal life, he who does not believe shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.

The decision is yours, you must decide. Is Jesus Christ who He said He was? Did He do for you, what He came to earth to do?

The peace that the Lord gives can only be given to one of His own. As believers in Christ, God has provided everything we would ever need, both spiritually and temporally. These provisions include the solutions to all of life’s problems, with peace and contentment in the face of adversity.

We will never realize these great blessings unless we have the mind of Christ. His thinking must become our thinking.

1 Cor. 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But, we have the mind of Christ.

Phil. 2:5 Have this thinking in you which was also in Christ Jesus,

This is only accomplished by the consistent study of the Word of God. We must make the Bible a priority in our lives. Then, His thinking will become our thinking.

2 Tim. 2:15 Study, to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

As you grow to spiritual maturity, God will give you more and more peace and contentment. Because the power is in the Word, the Word in you changes your victim like thinking into confident thinking. You will have confidence in your eternal destiny. You will know, without a doubt that the Lord will take care of you in any adversity.

Phil. 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Your confidence will be based on the absolutes of the Word of God. You will have pain and suffering however, you will not have stress in the soul.

1 Peter 5:10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

 

Click here to contact Reverend Rako >>

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Quotes & Jokes

"Its Not the Arrow, but the Indian using it."

~ Old Ranger Adage


"Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state government, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people"

~ (Tench Coxe, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788)


"Today we honor you, the members of this heroic unit[Project Delta, Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne),] in Vietnam. Your accomplishments were invaluable.You operated at the tip of the spear before the term was coined."

~ Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of USASOC Oct 24th 2008


"...When I was the immagrant's son who, taught me as a little boy President Abraham Lincolns adage [of how Americans are at the core...] 'You can fool some of the people some of the time, and youcan fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. '...Well apparently [Barack]Obama and his minions have almost fooled all of the america peoall the time though fear and intimidation and propaganda not seen since the Soviet Union with the entire press corps on his side..."

~ Michael Savage Broadcasting on the Michael Savage show October 23rd 2008


"...Well, they're worried about Barack Obama winning and they're worried if he wins, he will take their guns away. And the truth is, they have a reason to worry.This guy — he supported the most radical gun control agenda that's ever been imagined. He voted to ban single shot and double-barrel shotguns. He's voted to ban almost all hunting ammunition. He supported a 500 percent tax increase on guns and ammunition. So this guy is bad news when it comes to the Second Amendment and if people are buying guns, it doesn't really surprise me."

~ Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the NRA To Bill Hemmer on FOX News October 31st 2008


"Most gun owners at least until recently have been misled by Senator Obama. Though he claims to be an advocate for the Second Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate says otherwise. He voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens."

~ Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association, Oct 30th 2008 Washington Times


"The Constitution shall never be construed....to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms"

~ (Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87)


"...In as much as California has pretty much indicated that they don't want us [the Los Angeles Police Department ] involved in that issue, we're out of that business. If YOU don't like it leave the state."

~ Current LAPD Chief Willaim Bratton in Regards to the the LA Special Ordinance 40, in an interview with KABC Radio - Ken Minyard Show - August 26, 2003.


"When Councilman Zine asked me about Special Order 40 and whether or not it prohibited police officers from doing something about gangs, I said absolutely not. It doesn't. Built into [the] special order is a part that, if somebody violates the law and the officer brings them in, the first thing they're supposed to do is notify immigration if they believe they're undocumented. That's in Special Order 40. But somewhere it was lost. Never, ever, ever was Special Order 40 designed, written to keep law enforcement from enforcing the law against a criminal."

~ Daryl F. Gates, LAPD chief, 1978-1992, Draftee of Special Order 40

[Ed. Note : "But oddly enough the current chief[Bratton] uses it to make LA a sancutuary city.. Or Is LA really NOT that loaded with gangs? Read the story here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-jamiel28-2008oct28,0,867987.story]


"I'm a 'bitter' gun owner and I vote!"

~ NRA slogan


"The right of the people to keep and bear arms has been recognized by the General Government; but the best security of that right after all is, the military spirit, that taste for martial exercises, which has always distinguished the free citizens of these States....Such men form the best barrier to the liberties of America"

~ (Gazette of the United States, October 14, 1789.)


"No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."

~ (Thomas Jefferson, Proposal Virginia Constitution, 1 T. Jefferson Papers, 334,[C.J.Boyd, Ed., 1950])


"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

~ (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)


"The Constitution shall never be construed....to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms"

~ (Samuel Adams, Debates and Proceedings in the Convention of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 86-87)


"The strongest reason for people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

~ (Thomas Jefferson)

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  • Tactical Tips

    Accuracy... Combat Pistol Craft

    Has various schools of thought. Some of us prescbie to the Skyes-Fairbairn-Applegate Point shooting school of thought ...Or the late Col. Coopers system of Combat Craft. ..With similar acoord Larry Vickers, a longtime 1st SFOD-Delta operational member...and pistol guru states:

    "... As anyone who has taken one of my classes can attest I am very accuracy oriented. My classes always stress a high degree of accuracy. That is because in a gunfight accuracy will almost always suffer. There are many reasons for this not the least of which is you may very well be receiving fire from your assailant. In addition there is a high likelihood that you will be moving, your enemy may be moving, and it could be in an environment of limited visibility.

    All of these factors and countless others will have a negative affect on accuracy. The hope is that if you strive for a high degree of accuracy in your training that when your accuracy suffers in a gunfight, it will still be enough to get the job done. This approach has been used with great effectiveness in Tier One special operations units for years. I am a product of that school of thought, and I have trained a great many of these soldiers with that approach uppermost in my mind.

    Whenever I teach drills, I always tell my students to shoot as fast as they can, but not at the expense of a reasonable accuracy standard. One of the techniques I use frequently is to place a 25 yd pistol bullseye center target on the chest area of an IPSC or IDPA target. I then tell the students to shoot as fast as they can on each and every drill but always strive to keep the shots in the black of the bullseye. On drills such as shooting on the move this is opened up to keep your shots on the replacement center paper. This is commonly known as the ‘aim small, miss small’ approach. Part way through the first day I will peel off the bullseye and show the students the large ragged hole that inevitable results from this drill. This reinforces the teaching point that speed is fine, but accuracy is final - words that I live by.

    Another question I get frequently asked is what is the acceptable mechanical or intrinsic accuracy for a service pistol or carbine. Meaning what should the weapon/ammo combination be capable of producing from a shooting device or rest that eliminates shooter error. Keep in mind I come from a surgical accuracy oriented special operations background with little margin for error. Based on this and years of experience I have concluded that a service pistol should be capable of head shots at 25 yds and a service carbine should be capable of the same at 100 yds - basically 5 inch groups. However there is a catch; I have found that under conditions of stress a shooter will only be able to shoot to within roughly 50 % of the accuracy potential of a given weapon. And that is only for the best shooters; the majority will not even be close to that. That means in order to achieve my standard of head shots (5 inch groups) at a given distance the weapon/ammo combination needs to be capable of at least 2.5 inch groups. I personally measure that accuracy standard with 10 shot groups. Many quality service pistols and carbines with good ammo will achieve this but there are many other factors involved such as sights and trigger pull characteristics. By these criteria it is not hard to see why a tuned 1911 pistol is so popular in selected spec ops units. Keep in mind that any effort to make a weapon more accurate almost always means tightening tolerances which can lead to a less than acceptable reliability standard for a combat weapon. A balance between accuracy and reliability has to be achieved. Surprisingly there are many pistols and carbines that do a good job offering an acceptable blend of both. In addition weapons of this type will require a higher degree of end user maintenance to keep them running. Don’t expect a pistol to shoot like a custom 1911 but be as forgiving about maintenance as a Glock 17; it just doesn’t happen that way.

    In closing always strive to maintain a high degree of accuracy in your training sessions. It will serve you well in case you ever have to use your weapon for real. Remember the motto on the home page of this website: Speed is fine- Accuracy is final."

    Articles

    'Rocket Man' Soars Across English Channel

    LONDON - He had nothing above him but four tanks of kerosene and nothing below him but the cold waters of the English Channel. But Yves Rossy leapt from a plane and into the record books on Friday, crossing the channel on a homemade jet-propelled wing.

    Rossy jumped from the plane about 8,200 feet over Calais, France, blasting across the narrow body of water and deploying his parachute over the South Foreland lighthouse, delighting onlookers who dotted Dover's famous white cliffs, cheering and waving as Rossy came into view.

    Backed by a gentle breeze, Rossy crossed the Channel in 13 minutes, averaging 125 miles per hour. In a final flourish, he did a figure eight as he came over England, although the wind blew him away from his planned landing spot next to the lighthouse.

    "It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions," the Swiss pilot said after touching down in an adjacent field. He said he wanted to show, "it is possible to fly, a little bit, like a bird."

    Read More >>

    U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard Capture Drug-Running Semi-Submersible

    From U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command-Commander, U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

    USS MCINERNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- USS McInerney (FFG 8) and attached U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) 404 seized a submarine vessel carrying seven tons of cocaine off the coast of Guatemala Sept. 13.

    In the early morning hours, McInerney and LEDET 404, in collaboration with Patrol Squadron (VP) 26's Combat Air Crew 12, successfully interdicted a Self-Propelled Semi-Submersible (SPSS) vessel carrying an estimated $107 million worth of cocaine 350 miles east of Guatemala.

    When the team boarded the vessel, the alleged smugglers attempted to throw them in the water by quickly reversing the engines, and tried to drown any evidence by opening a valve whose sole purpose was to completely submerge (scuttle) both the SPSS and any drugs inside. Both attempts failed and the combined team successfully boarded and secured the vessel.

    After a full day of inventory and information gathering, four suspected illicit-traffickers and over seven metric tons of cocaine were removed from the SPSS.

    Read More >>

    Civilian Volunteers for Iraq Duty

    Army News Service
    by Spc. Josh LeCappelain

    CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - Service members realize when they enlist the odds of deploying are very high - for some, even guaranteed. Civilians working on military installations don't have to worry about that; usually, they are secure in their surroundings.

    For Michelle Holmes, the secretary to Brig. Gen. Jefforey Smith, deputy commanding general - support, the 10th Mountain Division's deployment to Iraq created a unique opportunity to share an experience that her husband, Roy, had already experienced five times - supporting military operations in a foreign land.

    "I thought it would be exciting. It's a chance to see what my husband (a first sergeant with 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment) does first hand," said Holmes, a native of Fort Drum, N.Y.

    The opportunity to volunteer for service here was first presented to Fort Drum civilian employees by Col. David Clark, division deputy commander who was the acting Fort Drum garrison commander at the time.

    "Colonel Clark put it out in (early 2008). I had responded that I wanted to go. There was a big meeting for interested people, and after that, in May, he called me and said he wanted me to come," Holmes said.

    Read More >>

    Russian bombers land in Venezuela

    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez says two Russian bombers have arrived in the country to carry out training flights.

    The Russian Air Force said the bombers would be based in Venezuela for several days and fly over neutral waters.

    Earlier this week Russia confirmed that it would send a Navy squadron and long- range patrol planes for joint exercises with Venezuela in November.

    Mr Chavez has developed close relations with Moscow, including the purchase of Russian arms and co-operation on oil.

    Hugo Chavez announced that two Tu-160 bombers would carry out manoeuvres, saying that it was part of a move towards a "multi-polar world".

    Read More >>

    Russia may hold naval maneuvers with Venezuela

    MOSCOW (AP) - A Foreign Ministry spokesman has said Russia might hold joint naval maneuvers with Venezuela.

    Andrei Nesterenko said today Russian ships are to visit Venezuela before the year’s end and the two navies could hold a joint exercise.

    The Russian statement came after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the maneuvers in his television and radio program yesterday. Chavez said Russian ships are due to call at Venezuelan ports in late November or December.

    Nesterenko said the joint exercise wouldn’t be directed against any third country.

    Read More >>

    More U.S. Special Forces debated for Afghanistan

    Resources, terrain make 'surge' unlikely

    By Peter Spiegel | Tribune newspapers

    WASHINGTON - As part of an urgent review of U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, senior Pentagon officials are weighing new, controversial proposals to send additional teams of highly trained U.S. Special Operations Forces to narrowly target the most violent insurgent bands in the country.

    The proposals are part of an acknowledgment among senior brass that a large-scale influx of conventional forces is unlikely to come in the near future because of ongoing commitments in Iraq, and it reflects the urgency of taking fast action to reverse recent setbacks in Afghanistan.

    While U.S. commanders in Afghanistan reportedly have doubled the number of extra troops they say they need, the Special Forces proposals are part of a growing consensus among military leaders that an Iraq-style troop "surge" and counterinsurgency plan may not work in Afghanistan because of the country's rugged geography and a history of resistance to rule from Kabul.

    Read More >>

    US Special Forces Rescue US Hostage In Afghanistan

    The mission was conducted in cooperation with the Afghan government and Afghan security forces were involved, the officials said.

    U.S. special forces in Afghanistan last week rescued a kidnapped American civilian in a night raid on an insurgent stronghold west of Kabul, U.S. military officials said on Thursday.

    The American, who was not identified, was abducted in mid-August while working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Officials said special forces units, acting on an intelligence lead, freed the captive on Oct. 15 in Wardak province.

    The mission was conducted in cooperation with the Afghan government and Afghan security forces were involved, the officials said.

    "He was in fairly good physical condition when they found him," said one military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the rescue.

    Officials said they believe the man has since returned to the United States.

    As violence rises in Afghanistan, kidnapping has become a lucrative business. Scores of Afghans and foreigners have been abducted by criminals or Taliban militants in recent years.

    Read More >>

    Too Few People For Too Many Jobs

    October 29, 2008: The most heavily used troops in the war on terror are, no surprise, those of SOCOM (Special Operations Command). The U.S. Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs and operators from the marines and navy have been worked hard since September 11, 2001. While some 80 percent of them are assigned to Iraq or Afghanistan, others serve in over 40 other countries.

    While SOCOM has about 5,000 more personnel than it did on September 11, 2001, it is still a small force (less than 50,000 troops). Most of the personnel in SOCOM are providing support for the 10,000 operators (Special Forces, SEALs, commandos. Rangers and other specialists) who are constantly overseas chasing down terrorists.

    Recruiting and training more operators is a time consuming process, as it takes about three years to get a Special Forces or SEALs operator up to a basic level of competence. It takes another few years in the field before such operators are ready for anything serious. Recruiting to expand the number of operators began right after September 11, 2001. Soon, SOCOM was told to increase its strength by 43 percent, and do it by 2013.

    Read More >>

    Outdoor Research Awarded $54 Million Contract to Manufacture Modular Glove System, Generation II for U.S. Special Forces

    SEATTLE, Oct. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Outdoor Research, Inc. (OR), a leader in the outdoor apparel industry, announced it was awarded a $54 million 5-year contract to manufacture the Outdoor Research Modular Glove System, Generation II for the U.S. Special Operations Forces' (SOF).

    Developed and manufactured by OR, the Modular Glove System meets the Special Operations Command's requirement for a protective glove system enabling SOF operators to perform in all battlefield conditions, including extreme cold weather environments. The Outdoor Research Modular Glove System, Generation II also defends the hand against heat and flame threats.

    "We are honored that the Special Operations Forces selected Outdoor Research to develop and manufacture their next generation of gloves," said Dan Nordstrom, Owner of Outdoor Research, Inc. "Outdoor Research takes great pride in our history of product development for extreme environments. SOF recognizes our unique ability to help meet the needs of men and women who operate in the most challenging conditions while serving our country."

    Read More >>

    Hunter and Lumpkin square off, clash over experience

    By Michele Clock

    UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

    EAST COUNTY – The Democratic and Republican candidates vying to replace Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter peppered each other over their backgrounds and positions in an at times raucous debate last night.

    The event at Cuyamaca College was disrupted at the start when write-in candidate Joe Ryan refused to step off stage and had to be escorted away in handcuffs by a campus police officer. A police supervisor said Ryan was cited and released.

    Ryan had argued that he should be allowed to participate in the debate because it was held in a public venue.

    Read More >>

    Somalia's pirate problem grows more rampant

    For many Somalis on the coast, piracy is the only way to earn a living in a country without a functioning government and faced with soaring inflation, civil war and rising malnutrition.

    By Abukar Albadri and Edmund Sanders
    October 31, 2008

    Reporting from Haradhere, Somalia, and Nairobi, Kenya -- Straddling a wooden crate filled with $1 million in cash ransom, a cranky old pirate bellows names from a notebook as his anxious, bleary-eyed minions lean against the stone walls of their cramped hide-out.

    The grizzled buccaneer, chain-smoking Marlboros as he taps into his calculator, checks the notebook again for outstanding loans or fines before counting out each man's share of the bounty in musty $100 bills paid to release a hijacked Thai ship off the Somali coast.

    Read More >>

    US special forces launch rare attack inside Syria

    By ALBERT AJI – Oct 26, 2008

    DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as "serious aggression."

    A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the network of al-Qaida-linked foreign fighters moving through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military's reach.

    "We are taking matters into our own hands," the official told The Associated Press in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

    The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an "uncontrolled" gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

    A Syrian government statement said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown and fired on workers inside, the statement said.

    Read More >>

    Gun owners fret Obama White House

    Voting bloc has 'deep-seated' concerns

    Jennifer Harper

    The nation's gun owners have the presidential election in their sights.

    Some are up at arms about the prospect of future gun legislation should Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama win the White House. Others are beefing up their personal arsenals, skittish that firearms could become scarce or too expensive in the near future.

    "If the economy is down, and gun sales are up, it shows you just how deep-seated the concern is out there about the situation," said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association.

    "Most gun owners at least until recently have been misled by Senator Obama. Though he claims to be an advocate for the Second Amendment, his voting record in the Illinois Senate says otherwise. He voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens," Mr. Pearson continued.

    Read More >>

    Harking back to World War II OSS Operational Swimmers ; 12 Coasties being considered for SEAL training

    By Amy McCullough - Staff writer

    Of the 12 remaining candidates Coast Guard and Navy officials hope to select as many qualified candidates as possible to go through Navy SEAL training by the end of next week, said a Deployable Operations Group spokesman. The move would be a first for the Coast Guard.

    Representatives from DOG and Naval Special Warfare Command will screen the remaining 12 applicants Nov. 2-7 at the Naval Diving Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Fla., said Lt. James McLay, spokesman for DOG commander Rear Adm. Thomas Atkin.

    After Commandant Adm. Thad Allen announced the program July 31, Coast Guard Personnel Command fielded more than 150 phone calls from people requesting additional information. As of the Sept. 15 deadline, 19 people had applied - 12 officers and seven enlisted members whose ratings included two boatswain’s mates, four machinery technicians and one food service specialist, McLay said.

    Of the 19 applicants, 12 were selected to move onto the evaluation phase in Florida. Those still in the running include eight officers - three ensigns and five lieutenant junior grades - and four enlisted members – three machinery technicians and one boatswain’s mate. Originally the goal was to have at least two officers and two enlisted Coast Guardsmen participate in the program, although McLay said there are no caps to those selected.

    "The goal is to supply the Navy with as many qualified applicants as available," McLay said.

    The Coast Guardsmen who make it through the nearly two years of physically and mentally challenging training will be assigned to a SEAL team for five to seven years, although they still officially will be part of the Coast Guard.

    Those who successfully complete the service commitment are not required to return to the Coast Guard, but Allen said this summer that he wants them to come back.

    "It would bring a tremendous amount of expertise and knowledge [to the Coast Guard], and that would really improve our program," Allen said. "It really was a win-win for us and the Navy special ops, because they will now have a broader group to draw on."

    At this point, Coast Guardsmen are not eligible to become special warfare combatant-craft crewmen - the sailors who operate SEAL transport boats. However, Atkin has said, "we are working on it."

    "Our engagement with the SEALs is huge, but the Coast Guard, Navy and Marine Corps partnership, as outlined in the maritime strategy, is really the direction we are going here," he said shortly after the announcement.


    Combat In Afghanistan

    60 Minutes video

    Enemy combatants for U.S. troops are on the rise in Afghanistan. Lara Logan reports from a forward operating base near Pakistan.

    View the Video Here >>

    Blackwater Hits the High Seas

    By Sharon Weinberger

    Blackwater USA -- the company at the center of a brewing storm over private contractors -- isn't letting a little controversy get them down. No, they're focused on expansion, and the latest addition is a ship that can be used for everything from anti-terrorism to special operations missions.

    Lost amid the latest brouhaha, was a small report that Blackwater had bought and refurbished the McArthur, a 183-ft. ship that boasts "state of the art navigation systems, full GMDDSS communications, SEATEL Broadband, dedicated command and control bas, helicopter decks, hospital and multiple support vessel capabilities."

    Under the new banner of "Blackwater Maritime Solutions," the world's most notorious merc outfit private security contractor now has the three "services:" Land, Air and Sea.

    Okay, this isn't quite the Armada. According to Blackwater literature, the McArthur could cover a number of humanitarian missions, in addition to military roles. Other nifty capabilities include: "UAV launch and recovery"; "Function as a 'mother ship' supporting smaller patrol craft and helicopters"; and "Provide support to combat illegal Unregulated Unreported (IUU) fisheries activities worldwide."

    Read More >>

    Blackwater Floats Private Navy To Fight Pirates

    William Pentland

    In September, Somali pirates captured a Ukrainian ship bound for Kenya that had a cargo of 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment. Despite the presence of a number of U.S. Naval vessels, the pirates have refused to return the ship until they receive a $35 million ransom.

    The brazen assault made headlines around the world, but it was simply the highest-profile attack in the region of late. More than 70 shipping vessels have been attacked off the coast of Somalia in the past year. Eleven of those ships and 200 crew members are still being held for ransom by rogue Somali pirates.

    Foreign navies have begun patrolling the Gulf of Aden to rein in the pirate gangs off the coast of northern Somalia, but they have had only limited success. As a result, ship owners have seen insurance premiums for coverage of passage through the Straits of Aden climb from an average of $900 to $9,000.

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    Blackwater's Private Spies

    by JEREMY SCAHILL

    This past September, the secretive mercenary company Blackwater USA found its name splashed across front pages throughout the world after the company's shooters gunned down seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Nisour Square. But by early 2008, Blackwater had largely receded from the headlines save for the occasional blip on the media radar sparked by Congressman Henry Waxman's ongoing investigations into its activities. Its forces remained deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and business continued to pour in. In the two weeks directly following Nisour Square, Blackwater signed more than $144 million in contracts with the State Department for "protective services" in Iraq and Afghanistan alone and, over the following weeks and months, won millions more in contracts with other federal entities like the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

    Blackwater's Iraq contract was extended in April, but the company is by no means betting the house on its long-term presence there. While the firm is quietly maintaining its Iraq work, it is aggressively pursuing other business opportunities.

    In September it was revealed that Blackwater had been "tapped" by the Pentagon's Counter Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office to compete for a share of a five-year, $15 billion budget "to fight terrorists with drug-trade ties." According to the Army Times, the contract "could include antidrug technologies and equipment, special vehicles and aircraft, communications, security training, pilot training, geographic information systems and in-field support." A spokesperson for another company bidding for the work said that "80 percent of the work will be overseas." As Richard Douglas, a deputy assistant secretary of defense, explained, "The fact is, we use Blackwater to do a lot of our training of counternarcotics police in Afghanistan. I have to say that Blackwater has done a very good job."

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    US want 'James Bond' flying submarine

    The US military have launched a competition to find a design for a flying submarine, a week before the release of the latest Bond film.

    Bond drove a submersible Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me and the villain Scaramanga drove a flying AMC Matador coupé in The Man With The Golden Gun but the US group is looking for a vehicle that can do both.

    The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, based in Arlington, Virginia, wants a flying submarine to help small teams of special forces to approach coastlines undetected.

    The agency said that it wants the craft in order to "maintain its tactical advantage for future coastal insertion missions".

    DARPA, which was set up in 1958 as a response to the surprise launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik and is credited with the invention of the internet, intends to spend billions developing the most promising design.

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    Always Remember

    "I was told to keep my mouth shut... But what you must understand is that I'm nothing. I'm just a little piece of the story, just a cog in the wheel. The only reason they pointed me out is that I've outlived the rest of the bastards."

    OSS LEGEND WALTER MESS

    WWII Spy, F.C. Local Comes Out of the Cold

    Written by Albert Eisele

    At 93, Walter Mess is of an age where he wouldn't know a Google if it bit him.

    But that was before last Thursday, when the National Archives released previously classified files that identified the longtime Falls Church resident and civic leader with some 24,000 other people who served during World War II in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the international spy network that was the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

    As a result, Mess now knows that his name will turn up nearly 9,000 times when someone enters "Walter Mess OSS Falls Church" in the Google search engine. That's because he is listed alongside more famous people like TV chef Julia Childs, Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., actor Sterling Hayden and Chicago White Sox catcher Moe Berg.

    "They were soldiers, actors, historians, athletes, professors, reporters," the Associated Press wrote in a story that appeared in newspapers around the world and quoted Mess. "But for several years during World War II, they were known simply as the OSS. They studied military plans, created propaganda, infiltrated enemy ranks and stirred resistance among foreign troops."

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    Veterans Day

    Veterans Day gives Americans the opportunity to celebrate the bravery and sacrifice of all U.S. veterans. However, most Americans confuse this holiday with Memorial Day, reports the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    What's more, some Americans don't know why we commemorate our Veterans on Nov.11. It's imperative that all Americans know the history of Veterans Day so that we can honor our former servicemembers properly.

    A Brief History of Veterans Day

    Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, was originally set as a U.S. legal holiday to honor the end of World War I, which officially took place on November 11, 1918. In legislation that was passed in 1938, November 11 was "dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as 'Armistice Day.'" As such, this new legal holiday honored World War I veterans.

    In 1954, after having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress -- at the urging of the veterans service organizations -- amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

    In 1968, the Uniforms Holiday Bill ensured three-day weekends for federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays: Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. Under this bill, Veterans Day was moved to the last Monday of October. Many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holiday on its original date. The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on Oct. 25, 1971.

    Finally on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law which returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of Nov. 11, beginning in 1978. Since then, the Veterans Day holiday has been observed on Nov. 11.

    Celebrating the Veterans Day Holiday

    If the Nov. 11 holiday falls on a non-workday — Saturday or Sunday — the holiday is observed by the federal government on Monday (if the holiday falls on Sunday) or Friday (if the holiday falls on Saturday). Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management — a complete schedule can be found here. State and local government closings are determined locally, and non- government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state or local government operation determinations.

    United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on Aug. 4, 2001, designated the week of Nov.11 through Nov. 17, 2001, as "National Veterans Awareness Week." The resolution calls for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.

    The difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day

    Memorial Day honors servicemembers who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle. Deceased veterans are also remembered on Veterans Day but the day is set aside to thank and honor living veterans who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime.

    President Eisenhower’s letter to Harvey V. Higley, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, designating him Chairman, Veterans Day National Committee

    The White House Office

    October 8, 1954

    Dear Mr. Higley:

    I have today signed a proclamation calling upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954 as Veterans Day. It is my earnest hope that all veterans, their organizations, and the entire citizenry will join hands to insure proper and widespread observance of this day. With the thought that it will be most helpful to coordinate the planning, I am suggesting the formation of a Veterans Day National Committee. In view of your great personal interest as well as your official responsibilities, I have designated you to serve as Chairman. You may include in the Committee membership such other persons as you desire to select and I am requesting the heads of all departments and agencies of the Executive branch to assist the Committee in its work in every way possible.

    I have every confidence that our Nation will respond wholeheartedly in the appropriate observance of Veterans Day, 1954.

    Sincerely,
    DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER


    Army Special Operations Soldier killed in Afghanistan

    U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Oct. 28, 2008) — A U.S. Army Special Operations Soldier was killed by a suicide bomber Oct. 27 in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, Afghanistan while in support of combat operations.

    Sgt. Nicholas A. Casey, 22, of Canton, Ohio, a human intelligence collector assigned to Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg, N.C., was killed when a suicide bomber entered a police station in Pul-e-Khumri, the capital of Baghlan province, while Afghan officials were meeting with U.S. troops advising a police training program.

    Casey is survived by his wife, Rachelle; sons, Nicholas II and Curtis; father, Samuel Casey; mother, Debaroh Mitchell; brother, Samuel Casey III; and sister, Amber Casey, all of Canton, Ohio.

    For further information, media should contact the Special Forces Command Public Affairs Office during duty hours at 910-432-4587 or after duty hours at 910-689-6187.

    For Sgt. Casey's bio, click here.


    John Ripley, Vietnam War hero, dies at age 69

    Associated Press

    ANNAPOLIS, Md.— Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday.

    Ripley's son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

    In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to "hold and die" against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

    "I'll never forget that order, 'hold and die'," Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

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    USASOC honors clandestine SF unit from Vietnam War

    By Spc. Tony Hawkins

    USASOC PAO

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Oct. 28, 2008) – One of the most decorated units in Special Forces history was honored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command in a ceremony here, Oct. 24.

    Project Delta, Detachment B-52, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), the most decorated single unit in the Vietnam War, had a memorial stone dedicated in their honor and placed in the Memorial Plaza at the USASOC headquarters. Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of USASOC, hosted the ceremony.

    "Today we honor you, the members of this heroic unit in Vietnam," Wagner said. "Your accomplishments were invaluable. You operated at the tip of the spear before the term was coined."

    Project Delta was a covert Special Forces operation in Vietnam which began May 15, 1964. A single SF detachment, B-52, was tasked with training the Civilian Irregular Defense Group and the South Vietnamese Special Forces, known as the Luc Luong Dac Biet, in conducting long-range reconnaissance patrols in uncontrolled and enemy territory.

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    Last flight leaves Berlin's Tempelhof Airport

    Reporting from Berlin -- The last flight lifted off from Tempelhof Airport late Thursday, ending an era of aviation that spanned World War II, the Cold War and the rebirth of the German capital.

    The future of the 900-acre site is uncertain. Proposals have included turning the airfield and building -- one of the world's biggest and a historic landmark -- into a luxury spa, condos, a museum, a park, a trade center or even the centerpiece of a new Olympic bid.

    After World War II, Tempelhof became a major U.S. Air Force base. It was the central point of a massive U.S.-led airlift in 1948 when the Soviets blockaded all land and water traffic to Berlin in an attempt to squeeze Western allies out of the city.

    Just before midnight Thursday, a DC-3 "Candy Bomber" and a Junkers Ju-52, both from the 1930s, took off.

    Then the runway lights went black.


    "Ladies and Gentlemen,

    The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.

    The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.

    Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.

    ...

    The children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.

    To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France’s eternal gratitude.”

    ~ Speech by Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy

    President of the French Republic
    before the Congress of the United States of America
    House of Represenatatives Transcript
    November 7, 2007


    Navy names warship in honor of local hero

    USS Michael Monsoor is named after Garden Grove High School graduate who sacrificed his life to save others in Iraq.

    By DEEPA BHARATH

    The U.S. Navy's newest Zumwalt-class destroyer will be named after Garden Grove High graduate and Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor, who smothered a live grenade with his body to save his teammates during an intense September 2006 firefight in Ramadi, Iraq, Navy officials said today.

    The announcement about the USS Michael Monsoor was officially made Wednesday night by Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter at a Navy SEAL Warrior Fund Benefit Gala at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

    Monsoor's family received a posthumous Medal of Honor from President Bush during a White House ceremony April 8.

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