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Tuesday, June 23rd

The Little Bird

Colonel’s Corner – USMC Leadership

A little bird delayed flying south for the winter.

He realized that his friends had already flown & set out to follow them.

But he’d waited too long and the cold winds & ice caught up with him.

As he tried to keep flying, his wings become frosted and he grew weak.

He fell out of the sky & landed in a farmer’s barnyard.

A cow walked over and dropped a huge turd on him.

Surrounded in warm manure, he defrosted and happily began to sing.

A cat heard the singing, dug him out, and ate him.

So what is the moral of the story?

Not everyone who craps on you is your enemy.

And not everyone who digs you out of crap is your friend.

Monday, June 22nd

This Badge

"Yes... let’s all join in the hatred of all police for the sins of a few. Let’s defund one of the most important public institutions in our country’s history. Let’s have all badges removed and allow people to tend to their own safety and security.

But before you do so, let me tell you about the badge and the thousands of good men and women who wear it.

This badge ran towards certain death as the Towers collapsed on 9-11.

This badge ran into the line of fire to save the people in the Pulse Night Club.

This badge sheltered thousands as bullets rained down from the Mandalay Hotel in Las Vegas.

This badge protected a Black Lives Matter rally that left five officers dead in Dallas.

This badge ran into the Sandy Hook School to stop a school shooter.

This badge ended the anti-Semitic slaughter in a Pittsburgh synagogue.

This badge killed the Oregon District mass shooter in seconds.

This badge has done CPR on your drowned child.

This badge has fist fought the wife beater who left his spouse in a coma.

This badge has run into burning buildings to save the occupants.

This badge has been shot at for simply existing.

This badge has delivered countless babies before expectant Moms could reach the hospital.

This badge has waded through flood waters to rescue the elderly trapped on the roof.

This badge has intentionally crashed into the wrong way driver to protect innocent motorists.

This badge has helped find the lost child so his mother would stop crying hysterically.

This badge has helped the injured dog off the road and rushed it to the vet.

This badge has encouraged the terminally ill youngster who wanted to be a cop for a day.

This badge has escorted the elderly woman across the street because she couldn't see well and was afraid to cross.

This badge has bought food for hungry kids because they had been abandoned.

This badge runs to the sound of shots and screams when others ran.

This badge has been literally soaked in blood, sweat and tears.

This badge has been covered by a mourning band to honor those who have sacrificed everything in service.

You may hate me because I wear it. But, I wear it with pride. Despite your hate and your anger, I will await the next call for help. And, I will come running without hesitation. Just like the thousands of men and women across this great nation.”

This badge.

Author Unknown

Monday, June 22nd

Uzi for the 21st Century

The Uzi Pro Tricked Out (Best of Israel & the US)

Note & Highlights by Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret)

This past article by Jorge Amselle is my favorite on the Uzi Pro. It is a solid review on an outstanding weapon. I’ve taken the respectful liberty to include a few POC recommendations on how, where, & with whom to get the most out of this beauty that is meant to be a carbine. And with some innovative USA “Can Do” you can!

“An Uzi For U: Israel Weapon Industry (IWI) Compact Uzi Pro Pistol”

IWI's Uzi Pro Pistol brings iconic spec-ops style to your home-defense arsenal.

by Jorge Amselle

It was 1985 when Chuck Norris, fresh from rescuing American POWs still held by the Viet Cong, returned to America only to have Florida invaded by terrorists in the middle of his much-needed vacation. I may be getting news reports mixed up with the film Invasion USA, but in either case the solution was two full-auto, 9mm Micro Uzis in a custom-made DeSantis shoulder harness. That was my first introduction to this miniscule Uzi, and I had to have one, or two, just in case.

The civilian version of the Micro Uzi was called the Uzi Pistol, and it was identical minus the folding stock and the full-auto capability. That original Uzi Pistol was produced from 1984 to 1993. In 2010 Israel Weapon Industries (IWI) introduced the latest version of the Micro Uzi, the Uzi Pro, for military and police units. Now the civilian version is finally available. Meet the Uzi Pro Pistol.

Born From Battle

Uzi is a rarefied name among gun owners for good reason because of its distinct history. At the time of the creation of Israel and her War for Independence in 1948, Jewish settlers and troops were armed with a hodgepodge of weaponry scavenged from the remains of war-torn European arsenals. Following the war, the need for a domestic arms industry became obvious. The resulting 9mm Uzi submachine gun was the 1950 brainchild of Major Uziel Gal, and the platform was first issued to the Israeli Defense Forces in 1954.

This easy-to-produce, open-bolt 9mm submachine gun was simple, durable, reliable and effective. Women loved it too. It is also undoubtedly the most popular submachine gun ever made. Success breeds innovation, and soon special operations units were asking for something smaller. Thus the Mini Uzi, and after that something even smaller, the Micro Uzi.

Upgraded Classic

The Uzi Pro Pistol, a combination of steel, sheet metal and durable polymer, features a grip safety like original Uzis and comes with 25-round magazines.

Today’s Uzi Pro Pistol is a closed-bolt, single-action, blowback-operated, 9mm semi-auto pistol made in Israel by IWI. The pistol also incorporates several design changes and improvements over the old Uzis.

The lower receiver is now made from polymer to reduce the weight and increase durability, corrosion resistance and strength. It extends the full length of the upper receiver. There are nearly 2.5 inches of Picatinny rail attached to the lower receiver just in front of the trigger guard for easy installation of tactical light and laser systems. This rail section extends underneath the barrel.

The grip had been redesigned with a much more ergonomic and less boxy appearance. The magazine well is also flared for easier and faster mag changes.

Another more American (and less European) change is the placement of the magazine release at the rear of the trigger-guard.

There are three separate safeties on the Uzi Pro. The grip safety located at the rear of the grip. The manual safety located above the grip area near the trigger. . And finally, an internal firing-pin-block safety.

Refined Design

The stamped steel upper receiver is the serialized portion of the pistol and also bears some very distinct design changes. Most notable is that the polymer, non-reciprocating charging handle has been moved from the top of the receiver to the left side. It is now easier to operate and allows for 5 inches of top-mounted Picatinny rail. This is great for faster target acquisitions. It allows the top of the weapon to be clear for great things.

(Note from Col. Mike: Get the Trijicon RMR Type 2 as you will love it. Lanny & Tracy Barnes (US Olympic Biathlete friends) tell me their batteries last 3 years)!

There are standard sights adjustable for elevation & windage. The 4.5-inch barrel is cold-hammer forged and has four-groove rifling with a 1-in-10-inch, right-hand twist rate.

Maintenance and disassembly for the Uzi Pro Pistol is easy. Note that the bolt will not retract if the safety is on and the sear is in the forward (fire) position. Unscrew the barrel lug by depressing the barrel lug release tab and then the lug and barrel can be easily removed. Then depress the receiver cover tab at the front of the rear sight to remove the cover. Now the charging handle and bolt assembly can be removed. Finally, separate the upper and lower receivers by pushing out the two takedown pins at the front and rear of the lower receiver. Assembly is reverse order. All can be done easily without tools.

Compact Power

The Uzi Pro operates as a blowback gun, so the weight of the bolt is all that keeps the action shut. As such, you have a fairly heavy bolt which makes up a large portion of this pistol’s 58.5 ounces. This weight is directly over the hand so the weapon is well balanced.

The single-stage trigger measures at 13 to 14 pounds. The grip safety engages as long as you maintain a firm grip. The manual safety deactivates with the thumb of the shooting hand.

At the rear of the receiver there is an end cap. This is removable so you can install a folding stock.

(Note by Col Mike: Custom Smith Mfg. out of Phoenix, Arizona, makes an outstanding folding stock, together with a forward grip for below the barrel. Both of these are welcome additions and help increase control, balance, safety and accuracy).

On the range, the Uzi Pro performed well out of the box. Once broken in, it performed even better. Handles a mix of ammo. Uzi’s are battle-proven with a history & heritage matching modern Israel itself.

This is not a fine target nor easily concealed-carry weapon. It will appeal to Uzi fans and military/history buffs, particularly plinkers. It also makes for an excellent home-defense or trunk gun. Recoil is minimal assuring fast follow up shots. The whole family will enjoy it.

For more information, visit http://www.iwi.us or call (717) 695-2081.

Also check out IWI’s Story: https://iwi.us/ourstory/

Operator Manual:


Special Recommendations by Col Mike:

I purchased my Uzi Pro from Onsight Outdoors LLC, Hillman, Michigan, 49746. Owned & Operated by Tim & Michelle Milko (248) 866-4150 … My cost was: ($1,150.00). Great service!


Special Recommendations by Col Mike:

I purchased my Uzi Pro from Onsight Outdoors LLC, Hillman, Michigan, 49746. Owned & Operated by Tim & Michelle Milko (248) 866-4150 … My cost was: ($1,060.00). Great service!


(This is what I have on my Uzi Pro in attached color photos)

Michael Bonamico (very helpful)

Owner, Designer, Shooter: Custom Smith MFG LLC

Phoenix AZ


(480) 307-4041

Uzi Pro Recommended (Made in USA) Forward Grip ($39.95):

IWI UZI Pro AFG by Custom Smith


Uzi Pro Recommended (Made in USA) Folding Stock ($99.95):

DSA Arms B.R.S Tailhook Adapter (Tailhook Sold Separately)


Trijicon (Made in USA) Details:


Uzi Pro Recommended Trijicon Sight: RMR06 ($699.00)

SKU: RM06-C-700672

The RMR Type 2 is beautifully designed with a patented housing shape that absorbs impacts and diverts stresses away from the lens to increase durability. It’s suitable for military, law enforcement, concealed carry self-defense, target shooting, hunting applications, and full range plinking! Easy-to-use. The 3.25 MOA dot in the RM06 is the most versatile and popular of all RMR dot sizes. It looks & operates like it was made for the Uzi Pro!

Bottom Line: You will love the Uzi Pro, particularly when it is coupled with the Trijicon sight and the Folding Stock & Forward Grip by Custom Smith Mfg. It is attractive, rugged, reliable, accurate, sweet to break down & clean, plus fun to shoot. It combines a great weapon from Israel with the best upgrades from America. It eats all the various 9 mm rounds I’ve fed it. But like most Uzis, it likes the 124 grain the best.

Good shooting! Semper Fi, Col Mike

Sunday, June 14th

American Military Number 1 Menu Ite

With special culinary & historic thanks to my Iraq War battle buddy, Colonel Tim Kaminski, US Marines (Ret) of Arizona, who provided this recipe and background. As he said, this is what happens when US Soldiers pick an affectionate nickname for meat on bread.

The unofficial term—abbreviated as “S.O.S.”—became popular slang among American soldiers during World War II. It refers to “cream chipped beef on toast,” a dish that’s been featured in Army cookbooks for over 100 years.

Any creamed meat (shit) served on toast (shingle) could be referred to as S.O.S. The meal amassed many nicknames, including “Creamed Foreskins on Toast” and “Shit on a Raft,” depending upon the ingredients and division of soldiers eating it. But, despite a collection of unpalatable titles, creamed chipped beef is a relatively beloved wartime dish. Or at least not as hated as the name implies.

The first appearance of a Shit on a Shingle recipe may be in the 1910 Manual for Army Cooks, which listed it as “stewed, chipped beef.” It features 15 pounds of beef to feed 60 men. However, cream chipped beef has been a breakfast staple in the Northeastern United States since the turn of the 19th century. The reason for its success in both contexts is the same: Chipped beef has been dried, salted, pressed, and thinly sliced, making for a compact and shelf-stable snack that’s an ideal source of protein on long-haul journeys. In a plight much like that of American soldiers, European immigrants relied on the same economical, transportable, and filling meat.

Over time, cream chipped beef over toast spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic U.S.—particularly in Pennsylvania—where it remains a popular diner breakfast item. At one point, cream chipped beef was even offered nationally on IHOP and Cracker Barrel menus.

Though S.O.S was coined during World War II, the nickname extends far beyond the mess halls of the 1940s. In fact, the soldiers’ uncouth name choice has remained popular. Pennsylvania Dutch recipes insist on “Dutch frizzled beef,” and diners offer “cream chipped beef over toast.” But locals still call it Shit on a Shingle.

Servings 4 servings

Prep Time 10minutes

Cook Time 15minutes


3Tbsp butter

3Tbsp all-purpose flour

2cups milk

pinch ground nutmeg

1/4tsp garlic powder

1/4tsp onion powder

1/2tsp coarse black pepper

3dashes Worcestershire sauce

1/2tsp mustard

12.5 oz jar chipped beef

8slices bread


Chop your chipped beef roughly and set it aside. If you are sensitive to salt, rinse the beef.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the roux for a minute. Whisk in the milk gradually and season with ground nutmeg, ground onion powder, ground garlic powder, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, and a squirt of mustard. Cook until thick and season the white sauce with black pepper. Stir in the chipped beef and set the heat to low.

Meanwhile, toast your bread. Once toasted, top with the beef mixture and sprinkle with parsley.

As we say in the Marines: “Bon Appetite & Semper Fi” !!

Saturday, June 13th

One Man With Courage is a Majority

Colonel’s Corner –

“One Man With Courage Is A Majority”

The Story of Jonathan Davis

by John Connor

There was a very long ballad written about Capt. Davis, below is a part of it.

Six feet one, in trowsers and shirt,

Covered with swear, and blood, and dirt;

Not very much scared (though his hat was hurt,

And as full of holes as a garden -squirt);

Awaiting the onslaught, behold him stand

With a twelve-inch “Bowie” in either hand.

His cause was right, and his arms were long,

His blades were bright, and his heart was strong.

December 19, 1854 was a cold day in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Three prospectors carefully traversed a rough trail in aptly named Rocky Canyon in El Dorado County, near the North Fork of the American River. Unknown to them, 14 heavily armed bandits lay in ambush ahead. Unknown to both parties, three miners watched from a nearby hilltop. They were about to become witnesses to what historian John Boessenecker calls, “The single most extraordinary feat of self-defense by an American civilian in the annals of frontier history.”

Jonathan R. Davis was born in Monticello, S.C. in 1816. Following his education at the University of South Carolina, he enlisted in the Palmetto Regiment of Volunteers and was quickly promoted to lieutenant. Davis fought with distinction in several battles in the Mexican War. He was wounded at Churubusco in 1847, along with over 1,100 other American casualties. In those days, simply surviving one’s wounds and the inevitable infections was too much for all but the toughest of men. Jonathan Davis proved to be made of boot leather and barbed wire—a tough man indeed.

Davis mustered out of the Army in 1848 with the honorary rank of captain, and, along with hundreds of other veterans, cast adrift after the war; he later headed for the gold fields of California. There, his soldierly demeanor, skills with arms and unblemished character earned the respect of his fellow prospectors. He was known as a superior marksman, and described by a friend as “second to none in the state as a fencer.” He was never seen without his two Colts and a big Bowie knife.

The Gold Rush drew dreamers, dilettantes and desperadoes from all nations, either to seek their fortunes in the streambeds and hills, or to prey upon those who did. Since most honest prospectors were armed and determined, the predators frequently formed murderous gangs and operated by raid and ambush. One such gang was made up of two Americans, five Australians, two Britons, four Mexicans, and a Frenchman. In just the two days previous to December 19, they had robbed and murdered six Chinese and four Americans. Ambushing three men in a lonely canyon must have seemed like plucking flowers. But one of those men had never been anybody’s daisy.

Ambushing The Wrong Party

As Davis, his good friend Doctor Bolivar Sparks, and James McDonald picked their way along the trail, all 14 bandits leaped from cover and opened fire. McDonald was killed instantly, dropped before he could even pull his revolver. Dr. Sparks got off two shots as he fell, his fire apparently going wild.

Jonathan Davis drew his Colts and commenced firing until they ran dry. It is unknown if any of his slugs missed, but when the firestorm ended, seven of his attackers lay dead or dying, and the rest had also run out of ammo.

The fight wasn’t over. Four of the bandits charged, one with a short sword, the other three with knives. Davis drew his Bowie and engaged. In seconds, he had killed three and grievously injured the gang’s leader, among other wounds, cutting off his nose and a finger. The three surviving bandits ran for their lives. And those three miners on the hilltop saw it all.

Davis had suffered two flesh wounds, but he immediately began tearing strips from his shirt and bandaging not only his good friend Dr. Sparks, but also three mortally wounded but still breathing bandits, trying to save their lives as well. He won, they had lost, and as the victor, mercy was his duty to give.

When the witnesses came running up the trail, Davis leaped to McDonald’s body, grabbed his loaded revolver and shouted “Halt!” John Webster, Isaac Hart and P.S. Robertson identified themselves and explained they had been out hunting game and had seen the entire fight. They assisted Davis in tending the wounded, then returned to their camp, bringing back 15 others to witness the bloody scene and help dig graves.

As the sun went down, three wounded bandits died. The noseless leader confessed to his gang’s 10 murders on the 17th and 18th. He died the following day. One of the miners counted six bullet holes in Jonathan Davis’s hat and 11 more through his shirt and coat. The bandits’ bodies yielded $491 in gold and silver coins, nine watches (two silver and seven gold), and 4 ounces of gold dust. Davis informed the group that Dr. Sparks, who was still clinging to life, had a home and family in Coloma; he urged that all the ill-gotten plunder should go to Dr. Sparks’. They agreed.

The Aftermath

The next day, all the dead were buried. Being law-abiding men, the group formed a coroner’s jury, wrote out a report of the incident, citing all evidence and witnesses statements, and concluded Davis’s party acted in self-defense. Seventeen of them signed it and it was sent to Placerville, the county seat. Davis carried his friend Bolivar Sparks to his home in Coloma, where the doctor passed away on December 26th.

In the months following, many people expressed doubt about Davis’s deed, and city folk proclaimed it wild exaggeration. Davis sought neither publicity nor notoriety, but was stung by the challenges to his honor, and felt it was disrespectful to his dead friends. Finally, Davis and the witnesses appeared before Judge R.M. Anderson and a court of inquiry, where detailed depositions and comparisons of statements set the matter to rest.

Jonathan Davis said, “I did only what hundreds of others might have done under similar circumstances, and attach no particular credit to myself for it.” Indeed, hundreds of others might have—but would they have done it so well?

Special Thanks To:

Michael Trcic, gifted sculptor and longtime GUNS reader: Mike’s prodigious talents can be seen at Trcic Studio in Sedona, Ariz., and at www.trcicstudio.com. His striking bronze of Jonathan Davis bears the quote by Thomas Jefferson: “One Man with Courage is a Majority”—a perfect choice.

John Boessenecker, noted frontier historian and prolific author: Without his probing, scholarly research the Jonathan Davis story and many others might never have been brought back to light.

By John Connor

Thursday, June 11th

Collective Victimhood vs Collective

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." Thomas Paine


Wednesday, June 10th

America to Germany Wake Up

“A friend loveth at all times, but a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

The United States has bailed Europe out of two horrific World Wars & rebuilt it each time. Germany was at the root of each major conflict & must remember that it has a tremendous responsibility to work as a true NATO team member. Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Trump's Order to Pull Troops From Germany Alarms European Allies

James Marson, Thomas Grove

U.S. allies in Europe expressed dismay over President Trump’s plan to slash the number of American troops in Germany by more than a quarter, saying it undermined NATO and boosted adversaries such as Russia.

Mr. Trump’s order, reported by The Wall Street Journal on Friday, surprised allies, who hadn’t been officially informed, according to European diplomats. The proposed cut to 25,000 from 34,500 would reverse recent increases in U.S. troops in Europe designed to deter Russia, which invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has bolstered armed forces on its western flank.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany would take note of the decision, if confirmed. “We value the cooperation with U.S. armed forces, which has grow over decades,” he told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. “They are in the interests of both our countries.”

Asked about German relations with the U.S., he replied: “It’s complicated.”

Allies of German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German Parliament assailed Mr. Trump more forcefully.

“The plans show once again that the Trump administration neglects an elementary leadership task: the involvement of allies in decision-making processes,” said Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of Ms. Merkel’s ruling conservative bloc in Parliament. “All benefit from the cohesion of the alliance, only Russia and China from discord.”

Mr. Trump has frequently hectored allies over weak military spending and other issues such as Iran, and questioned the value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Allies have complained about not being consulted on major decisions, most recently last month when the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, an accord designed to reduce the risk of war between Russia and the West. Mr. Trump has criticized Germany, Europe’s largest economy, in particular over its failure to reach the alliance’s spending target of 2% of gross domestic product.

NATO and its members have sought to placate Mr. Trump by pledging to meet that target in the future and offering larger contributions to the alliance’s budget, which covers bills such as the cost of utilities at its headquarters in Brussels.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has attributed increased military spending among members to Mr. Trump’s coaxing and frequently praised his leadership.

The alliance held a leaders’ meeting last year, hailed as a success by diplomats largely because Mr. Trump didn’t launch fresh broadsides against allies and even defended the alliance against criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Speaking the day before the London meeting, Mr. Stoltenberg touted the recent increase in U.S. troops in Europe as evidence of U.S. commitment.

Mr. Trump’s decision to cut numbers shows “complete disconnection between the NATO trend, where allies are pushed to a robust posture against Russia, and the reality of U.S. priorities,” said one senior European diplomat at NATO.

The planned cut to U.S. forces in Europe is a boon for the Kremlin, which has long sought to drive a wedge between the Western allies and reduce U.S. influence in Europe.

While Russia has largely given up the idea of improving ties with the U.S., it has looked to various countries where it can gain toeholds in the West not only to boost its own influence but reduce that of the Americans, analysts said.

“The only direction Russia can move in boosting relations with the West is toward Europe,” said Andrey Kortunov, the director of the Russian International Affairs Council, a Moscow-based think tank with ties to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

With Russia and the EU on opposite sides of issues such as Ukraine and Syria, Moscow has limited room for improving diplomatic ties in Europe. Instead, it has succeeded in pushing through economic projects on the continent, such as the Nord Stream 2 project that could double Russia’s supply of natural gas to Germany. The Trump administration’s attempts to stop the project have created a bone of contention between Berlin and Washington.

Alexei Leonkov, a Moscow-based military expert, said tensions between the U.S. and Germany over the withdrawal of troops and other factors could help give Moscow further leverage in seeing the project through.

“Germany’s economic growth has been held back by the U.S.’s need to sanction Russia for everything and anything. Maybe we can see a change here,” he said.

However, Victor Olevich, an expert on U.S.-Russian relations at the Moscow-based Center for Actual Politics, said Russia had to be measured in its expectations. A hacking scandal that exposed Russia’s alleged attempts to gain access to Ms. Merkel’s emails have hit relations hard. Furthermore, the U.S. is planning to increase further its forces in Poland, which it has steadily built up in recent years.

“The potential move of U.S. forces eastward, from Germany to Poland, is bound to increase pressure on Russia’s western borders and elicit visible countermeasures from Moscow,” said Mr. Olevich.

Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com and Thomas Grove at thomas.grove@wsj.com

Saturday, May 30th



“When laws do not apply to those who make them, people are not being governed, they are being ruled. Make no mistake, these executive orders are not laws. They are royal decrees.”



Chief Judge Michael McHaney of Clay County, Illinois, had this to say at the conclusion of the case he heard yesterday afternoon (Mainer v Pritzker) in the Clay County courtroom:

“Since the inception of this insanity, the following regulations, rules or consequences have occurred: I won't get COVID if I get an abortion, but I will get COVID if I get a colonoscopy. Selling pot is essential, but selling goods and services at a family owned business is not. Pot wasn't even legal and pot dispensaries didn't even exist in this state until five months ago and, in that five months, they have become essential, but a family-owned business in existence for five generations is not.

A family of six can pile in their car and drive to Carlyle Lake without contracting COVID but, if they all get in the same boat, they will. We are told that kids rarely contract the virus and sunlight kills it, but summer youth programs, sports programs are cancelled.

Four people can drive to the golf course and not get COVID but, if they play in a foursome, they will. If I go to Walmart, I won't get COVID but, if I go to church, I will. Murderers are released from custody while small business owners are threatened with arrest if they have the audacity to attempt to feed their families.

These are just a few of examples of rules, regulations and consequences that are arbitrary, capricious, and completely devoid of anything even remotely approaching common sense.

State's attorneys in this state, county sheriffs, mayors, city councils and county boards have openly and publicly defied these orders followed by threats to withhold funding and revocation of necessary licenses and certifications unless you obey. Our economy is shut down because of a flu virus with a 98 percent plus survival rate. Doctors and experts say different things weekly. The defendant cites models in his opposition. The only thing experts will agree on is that all models are wrong and some are useful.

The Centers for Disease Control now says the virus is not easily spread on surfaces. The defendant in this case orders you to stay home and pronounces that, if you leave the state, you are putting people in danger, but his family members traveled to Florida and Wisconsin because he deems such travel essential. One initial rationale why the rules don't apply to him is that his family farm had animals that needed fed. Try selling that argument to farmers who have had to slaughter their herds because of disruption in the supply chain.

When laws do not apply to those who make them, people are not being governed, they are being ruled. Make no mistake, these executive orders are not laws. They are royal decrees. Illinois citizens are not being governed, they are being ruled. The last time I checked, Illinois citizens are also Americans and Americans don't get ruled. The last time a monarch tried to rule Americans, a shot was fired that was heard around the world. That day led to the birth of a nation consensually governed based upon a document which ensures that on this day in this, any American courtroom tyrannical despotism will always lose and liberty, freedom and the constitution will always win.”—Judge Michael D. McHaney, Clay County court, Mainer v. Pritzker, argued May 22, 2020.

Thank you, Judge McHaney. You said it beautifully.

Thursday, May 28th

Chinas Pandemic Politics the US St

Edward Luttwak wrote the book on regime change, and he sees parallels between China’s pandemic response and the Soviet Union’s late years.

Chinese citizens (to include the elite) online have started describing the Mr. Xi regime as “ridiculous”.

“I saw not an emperor standing there exhibiting his ‘new clothes’, but a clown who stripped off his clothes and insisted on continuing being an emperor.” Ren Zhiqiang, retired Chinese billionaire real-estate tycoon & Communist Party member, who was soon arrested, Wall Street Journal, May 23-24 2020, Edward Luttwak expert on Regime Change

Introduction – United States National Security Strategy (NSS), 2020

Since the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations in 1979, United States policy toward the PRC was largely premised on a hope that deepening engagement would spur fundamental economic and political opening in the PRC and lead to its emergence as a constructive and responsible global stakeholder, with a more open society. More than 40 years later, it has become evident that this approach underestimated the will of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to constrain the scope of economic and political reform in China. Over the past two decades, reforms have slowed, stalled, or reversed. The PRC’s rapid economic development and increased engagement with the world did not lead to convergence with the citizen-centric, free and open order as the United States had hoped. The CCP has chosen instead to exploit the free and open rules based order and attempt to reshape the international system in its favor. Beijing openly acknowledges that it seeks to transform the international order to align with CCP interests and ideology. The CCP’s expanding use of economic, political, and military power to compel acquiescence from nation states harms vital American interests and undermines the sovereignty and dignity of countries and individuals around the world.


The PRC today poses numerous challenges to United States national interests. 1. Economic Challenges Beijing’s poor record of following through on economic reform commitments and its extensive use of state-driven protectionist policies and practices harm United States companies and workers, distort global markets, violate international norms, and pollute the environment. When the PRC acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, Beijing agreed to embrace the WTO’s open market-oriented approach and embed these principles in its trading system and institutions. WTO members expected China to continue on its path of economic reform and transform itself into a market-oriented economy and trade regime.

These hopes were not realized. Beijing did not internalize the norms and practices of competition-based trade and investment, and instead exploited the benefits of WTO membership to become the world’s largest exporter, while systematically protecting its domestic markets. Beijing’s economic policies have led to massive industrial overcapacity that distorts global prices and allows China to expand global market share at the expense of 3 competitors operating without the unfair advantages that Beijing provides to its firms. The PRC retains its non-market economic structure and state-led, mercantilist approach to trade and investment. Political reforms have likewise atrophied and gone into reverse, and distinctions between the government and the party are eroding. General Secretary Xi’s decision to remove presidential term limits, effectively extending his tenure indefinitely, epitomized these trends.

Challenges to Our Values

The CCP promotes globally a value proposition that challenges the bedrock American belief in the unalienable right of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under the current generation of leadership, the CCP has accelerated its efforts to portray its governance system as functioning better than those of what it refers to as “developed, western countries.” Beijing is clear that it sees itself as engaged in an ideological competition with the West. In 2013, General Secretary Xi called on the CCP to prepare for a “long-term period of cooperation and conflict” between two competing systems and declared that “capitalism is bound to die out and socialism is bound to win.” 5 The CCP aims to make China a “global leader in terms of comprehensive national power and international influence,” as General Secretary Xi expressed in 2017, by strengthening what it refers to as “the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” This system is rooted in Beijing’s interpretation of Marxist-Leninist ideology and combines a nationalistic, single party dictatorship; a state-directed economy; deployment of science and technology in the service of the state; and the subordination of individual rights to serve CCP ends. This runs counter to principles shared by the United States and many likeminded countries of representative government, free enterprise, and the inherent dignity and worth of every individual.

Security Challenges

As China has grown in strength, so has the willingness and capacity of the CCP to employ intimidation and coercion in its attempts to eliminate perceived threats to its interests and advance its strategic objectives globally. Beijing’s actions belie Chinese leaders’ proclamations that they oppose the threat or use of force, do not intervene in other countries’ internal affairs, or are committed to resolving disputes through peaceful dialogue. Beijing contradicts its rhetoric and flouts its commitments to its neighbors by engaging in provocative and coercive military and paramilitary activities in the Yellow Sea, the East and South China Seas, the Taiwan Strait, and Sino-Indian border areas.

Beijing’s military buildup threatens United States and allied national security interests and poses complex challenges for global commerce and supply chains. Beijing’s Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) strategy gives the PLA unfettered access into civil entities developing and acquiring advanced technologies, including state-owned and private firms, universities, and research programs. Through non-transparent MCF linkages, United States and other foreign companies are unwittingly feeding dual-use technologies into PRC military research and development programs, strengthening the CCP’s coercive ability to suppress domestic opposition and threaten foreign countries, including United States allies and partners.


The NSS demands that the United States “rethink the policies of the past two decades – policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false. Rival actors use propaganda and other means to try to discredit democracy. They advance anti-Western views and spread false information to create divisions among ourselves, our allies, and our partners.” Guided by a return to principled realism, the United States is responding to the CCP’s direct challenge by acknowledging that we are in a strategic competition and protecting our interests appropriately. The principles of the United States’ approach to China are articulated both in the NSS and our vision for the Indo-Pacific region – sovereignty, freedom, openness, rule of law, fairness, and reciprocity. United States-China relations do not determine our Indo-Pacific strategy, but rather fall within that strategy and the overarching 8 NSS. By the same token, our vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific region does not exclude China. The United States holds the PRC government to the same standards and principles that apply to all nations. We believe this is the treatment that the people of China want and deserve from their own government and from the international community. Given the strategic choices China’s leadership is making, the United States now acknowledges and accepts the relationship with the PRC as the CCP has always framed it internally: one of great power competition.


In accordance with the President’s NSS, the political, economic, and security policies outlined in this report seek to protect the American people and homeland, promote American prosperity, preserve peace through strength, and advance a free and open vision abroad. During the first 3 years of the Administration, the United States has taken significant steps in implementing this strategy as it applies to China: Protect the American People, the Homeland, and the American Way of Life


The Administration’s approach to the PRC reflects a fundamental reevaluation of how the United States understands and responds to the leaders of the world’s most populous country and second largest national economy. The United States recognizes the long-term strategic competition between our two systems. Through a whole-of-government approach and guided by a return to principled realism, as articulated by the NSS, the United States Government will continue to protect American interests and advance American influence. At the same time, we remain open to constructive, results-oriented engagement and cooperation from China where our interests align. We continue to engage with PRC leaders in a respectful yet clear-eyed manner, challenging Beijing to uphold its commitments.

For the complete report:



Friday, May 22nd

Memorial Day Honoring Our Fallen

This Memorial Day 2020, we want to remember and honor America’s brave defenders who made the ultimate sacrifice. We also want to honor those brave allies and stations who also sacrificed and stood beside us.

Memorial Day this year may take on new forms due to this temporary, unfortunate pandemic. Family and community gatherings may take on new forms … private visits, video or Zoom chats. Old Glory waving outside a home, a patriotic hat, flowers, or specifically a red poppy worn on a lapel, may replace a past crowded parade. Our visit to a Memorial may have to be virtual. A classic book or film is always there as we remember our U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, and in particular this year, the importance of our 1st and 2nd Amendment Rights. We have the blessed right to assemble, and we have the right to a means to defend our freedoms.

But these changes and the absence of public ceremonies won't stop our memories from stirring or hearts from uniting as we honor the heroes who died in service to America. The most challenging times can't diminish our gratitude for those who made such important battlefield or home front sacrifices. Each individual gave a priceless gift to defend those at their sides (their unit, tank, ship, aircraft, etc.) and our American freedom at home. They also served the cause of freedom on the land, sea or air where they fought and sacrificed.

Perhaps you can take time to review the years of articles and blogs that we have written and collected here. They are all about patriotism, heritage and freedom. Please pass them on as our History is a precious thing. Blessings to you all.


Monday, May 18th

Pandemic Party of Families Shooting

A Pandemic Party - Families that Shoot love Salute Targets

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret),

(Husband, Father of Five, Historian, Combat Engineer, Iraq War Vet, Shootist & Raconteur)

It is Spring 2020 and we are several months into the Corona Covid 19 Pandemic. Our world has changed!

The outbreak has been challenging and sensational, globally. Regionally it had affected folks in a variety of ways, some apparently devastatingly, others much less but scary and isolating. Of that, most can agree that there have been so many questions asked and concerns ranging from the virus itself, to changes in our routines, future jobs, stability of the economy, meal preparations, … and, to the availability of toilet paper, a wide variety of services, and to us 2nd Amendments types, ammo supplies. Many of our neighbors have now taken an increased interest in the availability and acquisition of weapons for home defense. The old adages of “A gun in the hand beats a cop on the phone” and “When seconds count, the police are minutes away” have resonated with many in a realistic awareness and concern. I have personally fielded many questions by phone and email from people who want to learn more about America’s 2nd Amendment and where to start regarding gun ownership, training, and responsibilities.

With the virus casualties rising, controversial press conferences, small businesses shuttering, and the race for the cure, there's been a lot of mixed news. We all await the “light at the end of the tunnel” with the hopeful expectation that America and other nations are opening up sooner vs later.

In classic American and British form, the Anglo-Saxon Western world has focused on the factual realities of the situation and buckled down to do what needs to be done. An indomitable spirit of freedom and liberty makes light of the situation. We have weathered world wars, great depressions and other challenges. And a vital part of our western civilization is free speech, free press, and of course the first port of call defense mechanism, to soothe collective anxiety: humor and light-hearted sanity checks. Whether that's quasi-philosophical coronavirus quotes or full-on coronavirus jokes, most of us have endeavored to give each other a healthy dose of humorous relief.

Many of us have used our time reading, writing, viewing media and a vast array of film libraries. We have gardened, performed home maintenance, and embarked on new culinary adventures within our kitchens. We have journaled and tried to write pithy, impactful statements.

One of the main areas of encouragement for me, my family, and close friends in our literal “neck of the woods” is shooting. We are blessed with several dozens of acres of forest and cleared area west of Portland, Oregon, in a historic area called Helvetia. Having founded Salute Targets on Christmas Day 2003 in-between Iraq War combat tours, I have a variety of private pistol, shotgun, carbine and rifle ranges laid out in appropriate areas based on range distances, impact areas and training requirements. Salute Targets started from a military need (reactive steel targets for US Marine and US Army forces training the new Iraqi Army) and has spread to both law enforcement and civilian shooter needs, wants, and joys.

This was no more clearly and joyfully demonstrated to me again recently than when a dear Israeli family came to visit us. The father is on assignment for several years to a local high-tech corporation that has an American-Israeli partnership. My son was attending a cooking class at a local church where I went to pick him up. I just happened to be wearing an Israel Defense Force Combat Engineer (“Handassah Kravit”) hat that was given to me in Israel when I visited a Battalion up on the Golan Heights that was commanded by an old friend. As I picked up my son, a young ten year old girl named Tamar noticed & read the Hebrew inscription on it and asked me if I was Israeli. Soon I met her Mom and exchanged pleasantries which lead to our families getting together for swimming and celebrating the 4th of July. And being good Israelis, our newly adopted friends showed a keen interest in shooting. And so another great “2nd Amendment” family and friends connection was established.

So a new version of a “Pandemic Party” took place here in Helvetia, Oregon, when we gathered again for cooking, eating and shooting. And what better targets for Tamar to “plink” at with a vintage Winchester Model 62 in .22 caliber than the Salute scarecrow targets protecting my wife’s Blueberry and Raspberry patches! Tamar, her brother, and Dad were soon placing hit after hit on our popular “Saddam Hussein” and “Osama Bin Laden” targets. As I told them, at Salute we have an old saying: “If you don’t hear the pling, you have missed the thing” … one of the other great aspects of steel silhouette shooting!

There you have it … another practical pandemic pastime! Shooting is indeed an international, cross-cultural passion that is exciting, challenging, important, and above all fun!

So check out SaluteTargets.com … you won’t be disappointed!

Monday, May 18th

The Trump administration has issued


Friday, May 8th

Victory in Europe VE Day WWII 75th

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Today, 8 May 2020, I and millions of others take time to reflect upon the cost of freedom. We want to honor the memory of those who fought and won World War II. And give thanks for the tremendous sacrifices they made for us. It was 8 May 1945. America and her Allies had defeated Hitler, liberated Germany, and won the war in Europe.

My Grandfather served in the Army in WWII. My Dad served in the Marines in WWII. My favorite Uncle Jim also served in the Army in #WWII, landing in France in 1944, and was wounded twice. I will always remember the honor of his instructing me in the shooting of the German 9 mm #Luger that he brought home to Stratton, Nebraska. It was a beautiful pistol and fit my hand perfectly. Uncle Jim told me that despite being an impressive Nazi war souvenir, it was over-engineered and under-powered. Uncle Jim loved the simple reliability and power of his GI 1911 .45 that he had carried in combat. But the Lugar was his WWII Trophy and reminder that he had done his job and done it well. He told me the vivid story of his hand to hand struggle to the death in France with a German officer who was a forward observer and had pounced upon him from an artillery post wall above. The German was on top of him and strangling him when Uncle Jim, while flaying with his arms, was able to grab the edge of his own GI helmet and crush the German’s skull with it. Later, after Uncle Jim’s company commander showed him the maps, binoculars, radio, Luger pistol and cigarettes taken from the dead German, my uncle chose to keep the pistol and the cigarettes. This made WWII, particularly the Battle for Europe, riveting to me. Yes, Uncle Jim Richardson, of the 378th Infantry Regiment, 95th Infantry Division, was a real WWII hero to me! His stories impressed and filled me with a sense of duty, service, patriotism and a future goal.

So today we remember the 16 million Americans who faithfully served in WWII, and the 400,000 who did not return. They made a difference. Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day (United Kingdom) or V-E Day (US), is a day celebrating the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany's unconditional surrender of its armed forces on Tuesday, 8 May 1945. This marked the end of World War II in Europe. VE Day is celebrated across Western European states on 8 May, with several countries observing public holidays on the day each year, variously called Victory Over Fascism Day, Liberation Day or simply Victory Day. Russia, Belarus, and Serbia celebrate on 9 May, as do several former Soviet bloc countries. Israel also marks VE Day on 9 May, as a result of the large number of immigrants from the former Soviet bloc, although it is not a public holiday. The term VE Day existed as early as September 1944, in anticipation of victory. Adolf Hitler, the Nazi leader, had committed suicide on 30 April during the Battle of Berlin and Germany's surrender was authorized by his successor, Reichspräsident Karl Dönitz. The administration headed by Dönitz was known as the Flensburg Government. The act of military surrender was first signed at 02:41 on 7 May in SHAEF HQ at Reims, and a slightly modified document, considered the definitive German Instrument of Surrender, was signed on 8 May 1945 in Karlshorst, Berlin at 21:20 local time.

“The German High Command will at once issue orders to all German military, naval and air authorities and to all forces under German control to cease active operations at 23.01 hours Central European time on 8 May 1945 ... — German Instrument of Surrender, Article 2”

Upon the defeat of Germany, celebrations erupted throughout the western world, especially in the UK and North America. More than one million people celebrated in the streets throughout the UK to mark the end of the European part of the war. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, appeared on the balcony of the palace before the cheering crowds. Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret were allowed to wander incognito among the crowds and take part in the celebrations.

In the United States, the event coincided with President Harry Truman's 61st birthday. He dedicated the victory to the memory of his predecessor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had died of a cerebral hemorrhage less than a month earlier, on 12 April. Flags remained at half-staff for the remainder of the 30-day mourning period. Truman said of dedicating the victory to Roosevelt's memory and keeping the flags at half-staff that his only wish was "that Franklin D. Roosevelt had lived to witness this day". Later that day, Truman said that the victory made it his most enjoyable birthday. Great celebrations took place in many American cities, especially in New York's Times Square.

Tempering the jubilation somewhat, both Churchill and Truman pointed out that the war against Japan had not yet been won. In his radio broadcast at 15:00 on 8 May, Churchill told the British people that: "We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing (as Japan) remains unsubdued". In America, Truman broadcast at 09:00 and said it was "a victory only half won".

And so this morning, President Donald Trump, Commander in Chief of the US Armed Forces, solemnly greeted a handful of aging WWII Vets at the beautiful National WWII Memorial in Washington, DC. He and his gracious wife Melania showed their respect with a wreath, and then slowly walked around this impressive stone and bronze artwork surrounded by fountains and reflecting pools. It is a location that all Americans should solemnly visit.

And so I remember my Uncle Jim and his brave service in WWII Europe. I also can’t help but think of all those WWII Vets that were my mentors growing up. Men like Al Nunes (who fought as a Marine on Iwo Jima), Bob Strathearn (a B-24 crewman in 8th Air Force), Bert McLean (my maternal Grandfather aboard the USS Baltimore), Wally Kirchberger (my wife’s uncle who was a B-17 crewman in 8th Air Force), and many others. And there was our dear family friend Audie Murphy (who also taught me to shoot on our Moorpark Ranch, who served and was recognized as America’s most decorated GI in WWII). You all set the example for me of a proper work ethic and how to follow and later lead. You instilled a sense of integrity, duty and determination in what was important.

I will never forget you patriotic American warriors as long as I live. Thank you for your faithful, indomitable service and sacrifice. Thanks for making me a better American.

Tuesday, May 5th

A Song for America Goin to Work by

A Song for America: ‘Goin to Work’ by Juice Newton

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

For the past couple months of this 2020 pandemic, I keep finding myself drawn back to a classic song from 1989. In fact, it is from an outstanding album called: ‘Ain’t Goin to Cry’ which she recorded in a beautiful country style. For several decades, my wife Lynn and I used it almost each morning to get our five kids up and out of bed and off to school. Then when I was deployed twice to the Iraq War, it became a theme song for both units I served in as a reminder of what life, struggles and war are all about. It is a fantastic song about duty and perseverance! And I believe it resonates powerfully and lyrically with a great tune about where our American heads and hearts should be today.

So turn up your speakers and enjoy!


“Goin' to Work” Juice Newton, 1989

The alarm went off, but I wasn't asleep

After tossing and turning, oh man, what a relief

Just to go to work

Get up and go to work

So I get out on the highway and I head into town

That's one part of my life I didn't let you tear down

Baby, that's my work

Right now I'm goin' to work

'Cause when that whistle blows, I'll be there

Life goes on, even when it's not fair

Who's got time to hurt?

Right now, I'm goin' to work

Now I remember what it is I used to do

For a while, I thought my life was just loving you

But now it's back to work

Oh, thank God for my work

So from 9 to 5, I'll take a break

From an empty bed and a heart that aches

Oh, I'm good at my work

Yeah, I'm good at my work

'Cause when that whistle blows, I'll be there

Life goes on, even when it's not fair

Who's got time to hurt?

'Cause right now, I got to go work

Oh, I gotta stay busy, that's the only way

Throw myself into my work and collect my pay

Watch me keep it together while I fall apart

The world won't stop for my broken heart

No, no, no, no

'Cause when that whistle blows, I'll be there

Life goes on, even when it's not fair

Who's got time to hurt?

Right now, I got to go to work

Hot Country 98WSIX F.M. with Hoss Burns

7:15 in the morning and the traffic is really piling up

Around Old Hickory Boulevard at I-24

In fact, it's piled up so high, it's painful!

But who's got time to hurt?

Gotta get up and go to work!

Judy Kay "Juice" Newton (born February 18, 1952) is an American pop and country singer, songwriter, and musician. To date, Newton has received five Grammy Award nominations in the Pop and Country Best Female Vocalist categories - winning once in 1983 - as well as an ACM Award for Top New Female Artist and two Billboard Female Album Artist of the Year awards (won consecutively). Newton's other awards include a People's Choice Award for "Best Female Vocalist" and the Australian Music Media's "Number One International Country Artist."

Newton has several Gold and Platinum records to her credit, including Juice, Quiet Lies and her first Greatest Hits album. During the 1980s, she charted 14 Top-10 hits across the Billboard Country, AC, and Billboard Hot 100 charts, with many of the recordings achieving crossover success and six of the songs hitting the No. 1 position.

Newton was born on February 18, 1952, in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and graduated from First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her mother encouraged her interest in music, giving her a guitar during her high school years. After graduating from high school, Newton attended Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, where she played folk music in local coffeehouses. She then formed a folk-rock band with guitarist and songwriter Otha Young, and played bars around northern California.

Newton's solo debut album, Well Kept Secret, was released later in 1978 and stands as Newton's most rock-oriented record, to date. Many years of great albums covering pop and country followed.

On August 6, 2009, Newton's longtime musical partner Otha Young died of cancer. The pair worked together for 37 years.

Her Personal Life:

Newton bought a thoroughbred gelding named Puppy in 1983 and stabled him at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center. The center's manager was polo star and coach Tom Goodspeed. Newton married Goodspeed in 1985, and the couple had a daughter Jessica and son Tyler. Newton, now divorced, lives in San Diego, California.

Besides continuing in the music business, Newton works as a horse trader. She deals mostly in European horses. And you will be most fortunate to catch her at an occasional private concert.

Go Juice! Thank you for years of inspiriting, motivating and beautiful music … particularly to those of us fighting in the Iraq War with your masterful: “Goin to Work”!

May it help America get out of this 2020 Pandemic Period.

Many Thanks, Col Mike

Wednesday, April 29th

US Navy Seabees Faithful Heroic Se

by Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret)

In late 2002, thousands of United States Navy “SeaBees” (Construction Battalion) deployed to Kuwait as a part of the First Marine Expeditionary Force centered on 1st Marine Division. There were significant engineering challenges to American and US Allied Coalition forces advancing some 500 miles from Kuwait to Baghdad. The main obstacles were the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Saddam Canal, and the Diyala River just outside of Baghdad. All of these were reinforced through enemy ground forces, minefields, and other obstructions. The tremendous capability of our SeeBees in additional bridging and general construction capabilities made them an essential part of what we referred to as the “MEG” (MEF Engineer Group).

The main assault on Saddam Hussein’s evil regime was called Operation Iraqi Freedom. I had the privilege of being both the Commanding Officer of the 960 man strong 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, while at the same time serving as the G-3 Operations officer of the MEG as a major subordinate command of some 5,000 US Navy SeaBees, US Marines, US Army Soldiers, South Korean Army Engineers, and other coalition forces representing some 30 US & UK allies. Our mission was simple: to liberate the Iraqi people of the Baathist oppressors under Saddam and his “thug-ocracy”. We crossed the LD (Line of Departure) into Iraq from northern Kuwait on 20 March 2003. The Brits of 1st UK Armoured Division were on our right flank headed north-east for Basra, Iraq’s main seaport. The US Army was on our left flank heading due west way out into the Iraq desert and then swinging north to hit Baghdad from the west. Our US Marines were the central effort heading due north up the ancient Mesopotamian (the land between the two rivers) to hit Baghdad from the east. The main “march up” to Baghdad took us some three weeks, fighting through open desert, significant sandstorms, Saddam’s regular and Republican Guard divisions, and the for-mentioned obstacles. The logistics of war: beans, bandages, bullets, fuel and other vast amounts of material were also a considerable challenge. We were all blessed to have faithful air support all the way to our objective.

To me, the proudest moment for the “MEG” was as we approached the final phase of the operation and closed in on Baghdad from the east. Our 1st Marine Division was ready “to close with and destroy the enemy” in the heart of the enemy capitol

after the long march. But they were critically short of ammo and food. Our regular logistics capabilities were extremely spread out. But the MEG proved to be the American “aces in the deck”. Without hesitation, the SeaBees were able to offload most of their gear and report to Salman Pak, a critical airfield east of Baghdad where our air transports were able to bring in the needed supplies. It was a beautiful moment in US military history when US Navy SeaBees with their WWII motto “Can Do” hand delivered badly needed ammo and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat – or as our Grunts affectionately called them “Meals Rejected by Ethiopia” ) to Marine infantry fighting in Baghdad! All I could think at that moment in the first week of April 2003 was “God bless the United States Navy”!

Things happened fast in 2003, just as they continued to occur during the following years of the Battle of Fallujah, enemy insurgency, our powerful response with “The Surge” and events following like our 2011 withdrawal and the rise and fall of ISIS. The story continues for Iraq. We gave the Iraqi people a priceless gift … the gift of freedom. What they will do with this gift is still being worked out. But one thing I do know is that I was a part of the team that initially took Baghdad and ousted Saddam Hussein. We did our job, not wanting to let down the American military heritage of our previous American Warriors. And as the G-3 Operations officer of the MEF Engineer Group, none of what we accomplished as the MEG could have happened without one essential individual who is long overdue is being called out and honored: Bill Rudich, who I am honored to call a dear friend.

Captain William L. Rudich, CEC (Civil Engineer Corps), US Navy, or affectionately “Mr SeaBee” to all of us who know him, is now retired and lives a well-deserved restful life in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has been good to visit him and his dear wife and family many times since. Bill is originally from East Meadow, New York, and still has the accent to prove it. I first met Bill back in the early 1990s when we participated in the annual Team Spirit Joint exercises in South Korea. I remember a fellow Marine buddy of mine advising me never to travel in a HMMWV for any extended amount of time as he lived on but two staples: Diet Pepsi and Pop Tarts.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom 2002-2003, Bill was the crucial forward combat commander for the main SeaBee effort, what we designated “Task Force Mike” (the ‘M’ standing for Mobility). Bill had the critical responsibility of commanding the highly capable 30th Naval Construction Regiment/Task Force Mike of First SeaBee Division. As Bill said in his own words:

“I commanded a Seabee Regiment assigned to I MEF during OIF. During the march north, we were the lead Seabee element assigned a mobility mission,

primarily to emplace Mabey-Johnson sustainment bridges to replace Marine Corps assault bridging between Al Nasiriyah and Al Kut. This was critical since the Marines lacked sufficient bridges to span the Tigris if seven difficult to bypass Iraqi bridges on Route 7 had to be replaced. We followed 1st Marine Division as a maneuver element, which was a first in the history of the Seabees. Fortunately, because of the rapid advance of our Marines, the Iraqi Army was caught off-guard and none of the bridges we planned for were destroyed. To further confuse the Iraqis, U.S. forces executed a last minute boundary shift that gave I MEF an uncompleted expressway. We worked hard on to keep it open and trafficable. We emplaced three British made Mabey-Johnson Bridges (the modern day replacement of the famed WWII Bailey Bridge) outside Baghdad and three additional MJB’s to support the push into the city. A more notable task was to move ammo and rations from Salman Pak where they were flown into Iraq from Kuwait to resupply the Division as it fought its way into Baghdad. We downloaded bridges, supplies and equipment from our trucks for this very unusual mission. The biggest lesson from all of this: no matter what you plan for, you need to expect the unexpected and deal with it.

As a US Marine, there is one clear incident that I will never forget that epitomizes the dedication of our SeaBees. Approximately two thirds of the way to Baghdad, our MEF HQ was just south of the Tigris River. It was just after midnight in the middle of a howling Iraqi sandstorm. As I made my way outside our MEF G-3 Engineer Ops tent to make a “head-call”, I could barely see ahead that there was a dim light next to a large electrical generator providing essential power to our HQ. The source of the dim light was the flashlight of a big US Navy SeaBee conducting a PM (Preventative Maintenance) check on the generator. I was truly impressed that this old Vietnam Vet reservist from Port Hueneme, California, was there cheerfully doing his duty. I thanked him for his strong sense of duty. He was a happy Warrior who truly impressed me. Saddam didn’t have a prayer, what with the team America had!

For the reminder of the intense and complex Iraq War campaign, the Navy SeaBees were always there when we needed them.

Just like in WWII at Guadalcanal, the bitter 1942 initial US ground offensive in the Pacific, we Marines fought knowing that we had the SeaBees with us to faithfully back us up in all the many, complex engineering requirements. Once again, they faithfully proved to us and America that they can build and they can fight!

All I can say as a US Marine Combat Engineer is “Thank You” and God Bless Bill Rudich, the SeaBees, and the United States Navy.

Semper Fi & Can Do,

Mike Howard


Monday, April 27th

Home Schooling and The Pandemic

When the government says you don't need firearms, the first thing you should do is buy a firearm.


Friday, April 24th

Give Me Liberty

"To ... not prepare is the greatest of crimes; to be prepared beforehand for any contingency is the greatest of virtues." - Sun Tzu


Wednesday, April 22nd

Downton Abbey Classic Quotes

"What is the point of living if we don't let life change us." Mrs. Hughes

"They do say there's a wild man inside all of us." Lord Grantham

"I'm tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed without supper." Lady Violet, The Dowager

"They're the only family I've got." Carson

"I would love you however, whatever, whenever." Bates

"The business of life is the acquisition of memories." Carson

"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice." Sybil

"What a Topsy Turvy world we've come to." Carson

"I know what real love is and there aren't many who can say that. I'm one of the lucky ones" Bates to Anna

"I'd rather work to get you free than dine with the king at Buckingham Palace." Anna

"I'm afraid that boys interest in her may not be entirely proper." Carson

"All women need someone to show a bit of interest in them every now and then - preferably in a manner that's not entirely proper." Mrs. Patmore (best comeback)

"I love to garden. To feel the soil under your nails. Sun on your back. The pride of growing things yourself. At least my gardeners tell me it feels like that." Lade Violet, The Dowager

"If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it among the English upper class." Lady Violet the Dowager Countess

"At my age, one must ration one's excitement." Lady Violet the Dowager Countess

2nd Amendment Notice: Aside from Westerns & War movies, here is another artistic, creative way to pass time during a pandemic while cleaning your guns! Your wife will love it and you will appreciate the elegant history, humor & drama.

Tuesday, April 14th

The Secret of Santa Vittoria

(a great way to help get through this Corona Pandemic)

Review by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

“In the long run, one life means nothing.” - Captain Sepp von Prum, German Army

“In the end, nothing is more important than one life.” - Italo Bombolini, Mayor, Santa Vittoria

Original Book by Robert Crichton

**Film by Stanley Kramer**

There are special books and sometimes special movies resulting from them. This is one.

Published in 1966 and filmed in 1969, the Secret of Santa Vittoria is a beautiful, big, dramatic story based on historical fact. It is a warm, roaring, human, romantic comedy that is also serious, dramatic and powerful. It tugs at your heart in so many ways. It is about Italy in World War II. It is about people, love, laughter, devotion and intrigue. It is about courage, compassion and cowardice. It is about ordinary men and women rising to great heights in extraordinary, dangerous times.

As the novel shares, from time immemorial the Italian hill town of Santa Vittoria has existed. For cinematic, Hollywood purposes, the story is actually filmed northeast of Rome in the beautiful, hillside village of Anticoli Corrado. But as author Robert Crichton paints his precious artwork, Santa Vittorio is a world unto itself, wary and even hostile to strangers, wholly involved in growing and making the fat black wine that is its glory and its lifeblood. It is a simple town with a simple lifestyle. It has experienced Mussolini and Fascist Italy from the backrow of current events and history. But now in 1943-1944 Italy, as the liberating Allied armies approach from the south, the Germans occupiers send an occupying force to claim the town’s one humble asset … well over a million bottles of their wine. But to the people of Santa Vittorio, their wine is their great treasure.

At this moment of wartime supreme danger a leader emerges … Italo Bombolini, husband, father, wine merchant, clownish, often drunk, wine merchant, and secret student of Machiavelli. It is behind Bombolini that the town unites, forgetting petty differences, ancient feuds, class divisions, lovers’ rivalries, the division between aristocrat and peasant, pooling its energies and resources to outwit the invader. Here Crichton weaves his magic from a tattered manuscript and notes given to him by Roberto Abruzzi, the primary source of this story. He originally left this outside of the author’s hotel room in Montefalcone, Italy in 1962 along with the desperate note: “In the name of God, so something with this.” As Crichton shares, out of the framework of plot and counterplot, wild contrivance and operatic confusion, a bold but risky strategy evolves.

Bombolini and the people of Santa Vittorio devote themselves entirely to carrying out their plan, to confronting the Germans’ determination with the deceptive calm, the cunning and the endurance rooted in their irrepressible heritage and vitality. The inevitable struggle converges on two men: the German commander Captain von Prum, a man obsessed by Teutonic drive and an inhuman concept of duty, and the underachieving Mayor of Santa Vittoria, Bombolini, whose supreme virtues are his dedication, compassion and total respect for human life. Risking his own life, he rises to the occasion in a tale of redemption in which he wins the admirations and love of his family and friends.

The Secret of Santa Vittorio is at all levels, a rich and compelling story. Both the novel and the film share a comedy that overlies a profound compassion and excitement. It conveys the choices in life: the impulse to destroy and the impulse to affirm the fundamental dignity of the human being.


Distributed in 1969 by United Artists, The Secret of Santa Vittoria is a delightful film. It was produced and directed by a Hollywood great, the incredibly talented visionary Stanley Kramer (High Noon, The Caine Mutiny, Judgment at Nuremberg, On the Beach, Inherit the Wind, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, to name a few) . To him, this film, its actors, music and story were an obvious labor of love. It was based on the best-selling novel by Robert Crichton. The beautiful music score is by Ernest Gold. Superb Italian collaboration was provided by the cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno.

The film stars greats such as Anthony Quinn (I believe in his finest performance ever), commanding Italian actress Anna Magnani, beautiful Virna Lisi, Hardy Kruger, and Sergio Franchi. The Italian supporting cast is magnificent. And as I mentioned earlier, it is almost entirely shot on location in the village of Anticoli Corrado, outside Rome in the mountains to the east. My wife and I made a point of touring this location in 2014 and loved it. It is truly Italy at its heart and best! Sit in the piazza near the fountain and church and savor a chilled glass of Italy’s finest: Montepulciano D’Abruzza.

The world premiere was held in Los Angeles on October 20, 1969. Television coverage included special interviews by Stanley Kramer, Anthony Quinn, Virna Lisi, and Sergio Franchi. Gregory Peck served as chairman of the benefit. The event ended with a celebration at the Century Plaza Hotel. The film was also selected as the opening-night film for the Annual San Francisco International Film Festival.

The story is set during World War II in the summer of 1943, in the aftermath of the fall of Italy's Fascist government under Benito Mussolini. The German army uses the ensuing political vacuum to occupy most of the country. The wine-making hill town of Santa Vittoria learns that the German occupation forces want to steal all of Santa Vittoria's wine and take it back to Germany. The townspeople organize under the inspiration of their mayor, Italo Bombolini (Anthony Quinn). They are able to hide a million bottles of wine by sealing them up in the galleries of an ancient Roman cave before the arrival of a German army detachment under the command of Captain Sepp von Prum (Hardy Krüger).

The Germans are given thousands of bottles of wine to appease them, but von Prum comes to suspect that there are many more hidden somewhere in Santa Vittoria. The two very different men engage in a battle of wits in the days to come. Von Prum orders every building and home searched, but his men find nothing. Finally, with time running out before the Germans must obey their orders and leave, a frustrated von Prum threatens to shoot mayor Bombolini in front of the assembled townspeople unless the hidden wine's location is given up. No one speaks up. Not being a Nazi fanatic, von Prum silently accepts defeat and leaves the hill town without harming the mayor. After the Germans leave Santa Vittoria, the townspeople, led by Bombolini, celebrate their victory by dancing in the streets.


• Anthony Quinn as Italo Bombolini

• Virna Lisi as Caterina Malatesta

• Hardy Krüger as Sepp von Prum

• Sergio Franchi as Tufa

• Anna Magnani as Rosa

• Renato Rascel as Babbaluche

• Giancarlo Giannini as Fabio

• Patrizia Valturri as Angela

• Eduardo Ciannelli as Luigi

• Leopoldo Trieste as Vittorini

• Gigi Ballista as Padre Polenta

**Awards and Nominations:**

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Film Editing (William A. Lyon and Earle Herdan) and Best Music Score (Ernest Gold). The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture Comedy; and was nominated by the Golden Globe Awards committee for Best Director (Stanley Kramer), Best Actor Comedy (Anthony Quinn), Best Actress Comedy (Anna Magnani), Best Original Score (Ernest Gold) and Best Original Song ("Stay", Ernest Gold and Norman Gimbel)

by Bob Peak

Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Produced by: Stanley Kramer

Based on: the novel The Secret of Santa Vittoria by Robert Crichton

Starring: Anthony Quinn, Virna Lisi, Hardy Krüger, Sergio Franchi, Anna Magnani

Music by: Ernest Gold

Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno, A.S.C.

Production company: The Stanley Kramer Corporation

Distributed by: United Artists

Release date: October 29, 1969

Running time: 139 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Budget: $6.3 million

Friday, April 10th

Saddam Hussein Tourist Attractions

Colonel’s Corner - Saddam Hussein Tourist Attractions

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)


I used to live in a beautiful marble and gold palace in a far-away ancient land. The land was Mesopotamia, which in Greek means “the land between the two rivers” these being the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers of Biblical antiquity.

Well, I didn’t exactly “live” in the palace … but I worked in, near, and often slept in the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, just north of the old Saddam Hussein International Airport, now renamed simply Baghdad International, in the south-west sector of the Iraq capitol. To the former dictator for decades of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, the Al Faw Palace was simply one of many. But to us (the American military and Coalition partners who occupied it from 2003-2011) it was much more than a thug’s play area and retreat, it was the official Headquarters of the Multi-National Force, and Multi-National Corps, Iraq. It was the heart and soul of the US military and that of our Allies in the Iraq War.

Specifically, though our crucial daily meetings and special events were held here, I worked nearby in what we affectionately referred to as “The Boathouse”, a short walk away, where all of our Coalition Engineers in the C-7 considered home. Yes, I was a lone US Marine Colonel (among mostly US Army, US Navy Seabees, and other US Coalition Allied engineers). I represented our I MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) Headquarters forty miles to the West at Camp Fallujah, in Anbar Province. As the I MEF G-3 (Operations) Engineer Liaison, my job was to interface with the US Army centric HQ in Baghdad and “liaison” with my buddies way out west in Fallujah, what we called the Wild West or Indian country.

I was stationed here from August 2004 to March 2005, having flown from the US to Kuwait, and from Ali Al Salem, Kuwait to Camp Fallujah and Al-Taqaddam “TQ”, Baghdad (by USAF C-130 Hercules transport & USMC CH-46 Sea Knight “Phrog” helicopter). This was much easier in 2004 than the year before when we had fought our way (20 March to 9 April 2003) from northern Kuwait (Camp Commando & Camp Matilda) across some 550 kilometers of desert and rivers (the Tigris, Saddam Canal, the Euphrates, and Diyalah) to capture and liberate Baghdad.

And it is only appropriate that the Iraqi people are now trying to make some money out of this past sociopathic, narcissist dictator’s ruthless extravagance … he actually wanted to turn the ancient ruins of Babylon (now Al Hillah) into an Iraqi Theme Park with him at the center of it (like Disney & Mickey Mouse).

Please keep praying for Iraq and her people … as we always tried to remind them with a smile: democracy is not easy.

Waste Of Space:

Tikrit Turns Saddam Hussein’s Palaces Into Tourist Attractions

Ghazwan Hassan al-Jibouri

The despised ex-leader of Iraq built luxurious palaces with hundreds of rooms in Tikrit, near his hometown. Now the local council wants them turned into money-making museums'

Some might say the formerly-luxurious palaces built by Iraqi autocrat, Saddam Hussein, in Tikrit are a metaphor for how things have developed since 2003. Tikrit is often known as the “city of palaces” due to the fact that Saddam Hussein, who came from a nearby village, built dozens of luxurious residences and halls, often along the banks of the Tigris River here. It has been suggested there are anywhere between 60 and 136 such mansions in the area. The largest are well known and often hark back to ancient Iraqi or religious history. For example, one, which has 360 rooms, is called Dhu Al Fiqar, after a mythical sword in Islamic history and the buildings are sword-shaped.

The places boast everything from walls made to resist heavy weapons to rare marble.

The gardens are planted with trees brought from all over Iraq and there are miniature lakes and swimming pools galore. But today, many of the palaces and their facilities stand in ruins. They’ve been occupied by different military forces and put up for sale. Local authorities and the federal government have both failed to preserve them even though public interest in them is high. Today they are more like ruins or rubbish dumps, and their state of repair has only worsened since the city was occupied by the extremist group known as the Islamic State in 2014.

“The presidential palaces have been offered for sale more than once,” explains Tami Saab, deputy director of the Salahaddin Investment Commission. “But the main reason that investors are scared to put money into them is because they are occupied by militia groups and security forces, many of whom have refused to leave the buildings, both before and after the Islamic State group was here.”

Because the palaces are isolated and easy to defend, they are still often used by security forces. And, as Saab says, the military men are refusing to vacate the premises even though the local government has asked them to.

The parliamentary committee on economics in Baghdad has said they would put the development of the palaces out to tender, inviting bids much as they do for Iraq’s oilfields. The bidding would include former palaces of the Iraqi dictator right around the country, not just in Tikrit.

In announcing this plan, the committee noted that there were 136 palaces in and around Tikrit itself, some of them designed by international architects, boasting everything from unique security features such as walls made to resist heavy weapons, to rare marble, pools and vast interior spaces.

Unfortunately, the Iraqi security forces and militias have been in the presidential palace complexes since April 2015, Fadhil al-Dujaili, a member of Salahaddin’s provincial council, told NIQASH. “The complex is now closed and most of the palaces were destroyed either by the Islamic State group or by air strikes against them.”

But he still has hope for the palaces. They “could be used to generate tourist dollars for Tikrit,” he argues. “Especially as this area has further important sites, including the ‘Green Church’, one of the oldest churches in the Middle East, and the house where Salahaddin al-Ayubi [the first sultan of Egypt and Syria] was born. Many tourists also want to visit Saddam’s places to see how he lived. This could provide our people with hundreds of job opportunities,” he argues.

Even today there are dozens of visitors to certain sites within the palace complex and not all of them are for pleasant reasons. Many journalists, mourners and delegations come to visit one particular palace courtyard overlooking the Tigris. It was here that in June 2014, the extremists of the Islamic State executed an estimated 1,700 air force cadets in cold blood and threw some of their bodies into the river in what would come to be known as the Camp Speicher massacre. Other victims were buried in the palace grounds and search teams are still trying to excavate their bodies.

Dozens of families come here to mourn their lost sons. They leave flowers, paint the walls with henna and pray and cry on the site. The Iraqi government has made special arrangements to host the mourners here and has declared a special memorial day too.

While some locals believe the palaces of Saddam Hussein should be restored as part of Iraq’s checkered recent history, others believe that they should be left to their own disintegration, taking the bad memories with them.

Friday, April 10th


Those guys had God on their side, that's for sure. Boeing was on their side, too. Consolidated B-24s would have made it 1/2 that long of a flight with all that damage.


A real miracle - from WWII

B-17 "All American" (414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew

Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.

Co-pilot- G. Boyd Jr.

Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle

Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge

Engineer- Joe C. James

Radio Operator - Paul A. Galloway

Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda

Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk

Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus

Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland

In 1943 a mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of WW II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot, then continued its crashing descent Into the rear of the fuselage of a Flying Fortress named "All American", piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron. When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame, and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16-feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest; the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner's turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft miraculously still flew! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, The wind turbulence was so great that it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane. When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged that it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the "All American". Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the "All American" as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown.

They also radioed to the base describing that the appendage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress, taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base. Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been "used"

So five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane to land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear when the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited through the door in the fuselage

and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed.

This old bird had done its job and brought the entire crew home uninjured.

Friday, April 10th

American WWII Scandal The Navy Mark

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

We all must learn from the Lessons of Bureaucratic Incompetence. The WWII US Navy Bureau of Ordnance denial that its Torpedoes (for Submarines, Surface Ships and Aircraft on the Front Line) were Disastrously Defective, was unconscionable and cost the lives of countless Americans in combat.

No more excuses!

“The only reliable feature of the torpedo was its unreliability.” Theodore Roscoe, United States Submarine Operations in World War II

My maternal Grandfather, Boatswain’s Mate Chief Albert J. McClean USN (Ret), proudly joined the US Navy in 1927, and finally retired in 1963. Throughout his 36 year career, he faithfully served, and was extremely devoted to accomplishing the mission and taking care of his Sailors. I was brought up on this proud heritage and tradition of service and it was “Grandpa” who knew me all too well and said: “The Navy is a bit too slow for you Michael, you really should consider the Marines.” This was outstanding advice.

Grandpa knew me well, and he knew his beloved service all too well. As Admiral Hymen Rickover said, “The US Naval Academy is the only organization I know that takes men and turns them into boys.” Rickover was a true American patriot who, as both a Jew and career Navy officer, loved the Navy, but suffered but triumphed over its petty ethnic prejudices.

It is to men like Rickover and Lockwood, and the many brave US sub commanders of WWII, that this article is dedicated in the hope that future Americans will learn from these tragic mistakes. True leadership means that integrity, loyalty, duty and responsibility must always prevail over personal self-interest, pride and careerism. And selfish bureaucrats who cost precious lives must be held accountable, if not personally, than historically. The WWII US Navy Bureau of Ordnance failed in WWII to accomplish the mission and take care of its people.

The Mark 14 Torpedo Scandal

Rear Adm. Charles Lockwood, the problems with the Mark 14, and the Bureau of Ordnance By Dwight Jon Zimmerman - March 4, 2013

A torpedoed Japanese destroyer photographed through the periscope of either USS Wahoo or USS Nautilus, June 1942. Problems with the magnetic and contact detonators of the Navy’s Mark 14 torpedo made such sights rare early in the war. National Archives photo

In 1942, submarines in the three regional Pacific Ocean commands had fired 1,442 torpedoes and sunk only 211 ships totaling almost 1.3 million tons (post-war analysis of Japanese records reduced these figures to 109 ships and 41,871 tons). The new Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet, Rear Adm. Charles Lockwood looked at the tally sheet for March 1943. The results continued to be disappointingly low. The problem: duds and premature explosions of torpedoes. In 1942, Lockwood had forced the powerful Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) to admit to and fix faults in the Mark 14 torpedo’s depth gauge, the cause of torpedoes running too deep. Now he braced himself for another bruising battle with BuOrd, this time over the magnetic “exploder,” also called a pistol, which was meant to detonate the torpedo beneath the keel of enemy ships.

In May 1942, he became Commander, Submarines, Southwest Pacific Area, based in Fremantle, Australia, where he found himself neck-deep in the Mark 14 controversy. Lockwood’s association with submarines began in 1914 with the A-2, the Navy’s second submarine. During that war he commanded Submarine Division 1, Asiatic. He held a variety of submarine commands in the interwar years. In February 1941, he served as the naval attaché in London, where he debriefed Ensign Eugene Smith, the Navy pilot secretly instrumental in helping sink the Bismarck. In May 1942, he became Commander, Submarines, Southwest Pacific Area, based in Fremantle, Australia, where he found himself neck-deep in the Mark 14 controversy.

A cross section view of the Mark XIV torpedo showing the location of interior mechanisms. The magnetic trigger caused many problems for U.S. Navy submariners during the early years of World War II. U.S. Navy diagram

Designed in 1930, the Mark 14 had the misfortune of being developed in the Great Depression when there was little or no money available for painting barracks, let alone funding new (and expensive) weapon systems. The Mark 14 was put into production even though it had been inadequately tested – in fact no live-fire tests were ever conducted.

When submarine commanders went to war in the Pacific, they discovered that more often than not their torpedoes exploded prematurely, ran too deep, were duds, or, frighteningly, circled back and tried to sink their own submarines! As Theodore Roscoe wrote in United States Submarine Operations in World War II, “The only reliable feature of the torpedo was its unreliability.”

“[We] clinked ’em with a clunk.”

—Lt. Cmdr. William John “Moke” Millican, Thresher captain, referring to a dud Mark 14 torpedo impact on a ship

Because there was such a wide array of problems, BuOrd, which had designed the Mark 14, claimed the fault was with the submarine commanders and not the Mark 14. That initially stopped complaints. Back then semi-autonomous naval bureaus like BuOrd were so powerful that not even Adm. Ernest King, who was both Commander in Chief U.S. Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations (an unprecedented consolidation of power), had direct authority over them. As one submarine commander said, “A naval officer, conditioned to believe the bureau’s word was infallible in matters of ordnance, did not lightly challenge it.” But, as he had proved in 1942, Rear Adm. Lockwood was not afraid to fight for his men.

Lockwood left his headquarters at Pearl Harbor for Washington to push for a solution to the magnetic exploder problem.

Vice Adm. Charles A. Lockwood, Commander, Submarines, Pacific Fleet, comes aboard the USS Missouri (BB 63) for the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay, Japan, Sept. 2, 1945. As a rear admiral, Lockwood waged a battle with the Bureau of Ordnance to have the problems with the Mark XIV torpedoes corrected. U.S. Navy photo

Lockwood met Adm. King and his chief of staff Rear Adm. Richard Edwards. Later, at the Submarine Officer’s Conference, Lockwood said, “If the Bureau of Ordnance can’t provide us with torpedoes that will hit and explode . . . then for God’s sake, get the Bureau of Ships to design a boat hook with which we can rip the plates off a target’s side.”

When Lockwood finally met his old friend Bureau of Ordnance chief Rear Adm. William “Spike” Blandy in the latter’s office, the furious Blandy said, “I don’t know whether it’s part of your mission to discredit the Bureau of Ordnance, but you seem to be doing a pretty good job of it.”

Lockwood replied, “Well, Spike, if anything I have said will get the Bureau off its duff and get some action, I will feel that my trip has not been wasted.”

Lockwood returned to Pearl Harbor, the situation with the magnetic exploder “under study.” Finally, in July 1943, he officially ordered what many of his commanders were already doing: deactivate the magnetic exploder and only use the contact pistol, which would detonate the torpedo when it actually contacted the side of an enemy ship.

“Well, Spike, if anything I have said will get the Bureau off its duff and get some action, I will feel that my trip has not been wasted.”

Yet even that didn’t completely solve the dud and premature explosion problem. In July 1943, Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence Daspit of the Tinosa fired eleven torpedoes under near perfect conditions that were duds. In August, Lockwood ordered field tests in which torpedoes with warshots were fired at an undersea cliff and the duds retrieved for study, and torpedoes containing dummy warheads were dropped from a cherry picker onto a steel plate set at different angles. The tests revealed defects in the contact pistol as well. This information was passed onto Buord which eventually redesigned the contact pistol. In his book, Silent Victory, historian Clay Blair Jr. wrote, “After twenty-one months of war, the three major defects of the Mark 14 torpedo had at last been isolated. . . . Each defect had been discovered and fixed in the field – always over the stubborn opposition of the Bureau of Ordnance.”

Final Note by Col Howard: What a tragedy and failure in leadership. We must learn from this and never forget it. Gen Colin Powell US Army, spoke to my Commander’s Class in 2001 at Quantico, VA, on the brink of the Iraq War. He reminded us: “When troops stop coming to you with their problems, it is for two reasons: either they no longer believe you can help them, or worse, that you no longer care.”

Thursday, April 9th

A Classic Sounds Track Hogans Hero

Featuring a classic sound track from the hilariously popular 1965 TV show Hogan's Heroes...enjoy!

Watch on YouTube: https://youtu.be/HZEba5pCxKY


Wednesday, March 25th


This short doc explores the life of United States Marine Corps Body Bearer. Please Share



Wednesday, March 25th

USMC Tribute Video

Please take a moment to watch "Semper Fi - Trace Adkins a fantastic USMC TRIBUTE video byLeatherneck Lifestyle" on YouTube: https://youtu.be/AIVTZ5JQaR8


Wednesday, March 25th

Momma Didnt Raise a Wimp but a Warr

After spotting a group of 15 Muslims setting up for an ambush, #Marine Corporal Clifford Wooldridge, (now a Sergeant) with guns blazing, charges across an open field and kills or wounds 8 of them. He then boldly rushes around a corner wall after hearing voices, and comes face to face with 4 more Taliban Muslims within close range and immediately guns down 3 of them.

Now with his 249 SAW (Squad Automatic Weapon) machine gun empty, he jumps back behind the wall to reload, then notices the gun barrel of the 4th guy coming around the wall that he is using for cover while reloading. Wooldridge drops his empty SAW, grabs the guy's gun barrel, and proceeds to beat the Allah Akbar out of the Muslim dirtbag with his own gun, effectively killing him, and earning Corporal Wooldridge the Navy Cross, an award second only to Nations highest award, the Medal of Honor.

Lesson in this Global War On Terrorism (GWOT): The United States Marine Corps is the 72 virgins mating service, and will even beat you to death with your own gun to help you meet your imaginary girlfriends. And they’ll gladly do it FOR FREE. It's their pleasure ... really!


Official Citation:


Monday, February 24th

Making Peace in a Combat Zone Part

Making Peace in a Combat Zone – Part 3

"Hell these are Marines. Men like them held Guadalcanal and took Iwo Jima.

Baghdad ain't shit."

Brigadier General John F. Kelly USMC

As Deputy Commanding General, 1st MarDiv, during the April 2003 assault on Baghdad, Gen Kelly was asked by Los Angeles Times reporter if (considering the size of the Iraqi Army & vast supplies of tanks, artillery & chemical weapons available to Saddam Hussein) the Marine would ever consider defeat. The above quote was Kelly's response.

“Americans are the strongest tribe.”

Iraqi Army colonel, pointing admiringly to passing US Marine patrol, Fallujah, Nov 2004

Twenty-five million Iraqis are now enjoying a semblance of freedom just like 25 million people in Afghanistan - that’s 50 million more folks in the world who will understand what freedom is. It will not happen overnight. But the children will see and grow up experiencing the benefits. So, we’re doing a really good thing. The insurgents are going to lose if we just stay the course, because, ultimately, these Jihadi Wahhabis want to take the clock back – their goal is to take the entire Middle East (and eventually the whole world) back to the 7th century A.D. to that model of Islam which just won’t fly. It won’t work with 99 percent of Moslems in the world because they like their cars, watches, health-care, fast food, new music, and iPods. Women like driving, and shopping malls, and socializing at times without men escorting and dictating to them. Women like human rights and having women’s rights! Women don’t like being second class citizens or being considered property – they want to be first class citizens in a free society of choices. Today, Iraqi women – 55 percent of their population and 55 percent of the Afghanistan population – know that they have equality. That’s why I’m convinced that this is going to work. But America, our Coalition allies, and NATO must stay the course. We know the enemy uses this line that: “America may have the watches, but we have the time.” We must hang in there and prove them wrong.

Naturally, people are upset by the casualties in Iraq and they should be. But you also have to have a sense of proportionality. The death of any Marine is a death in the family, and I know my Army buddies would say the same thing. But the historian in me has to look at this in a long range, historical context. We lost 400,000 Americans in WWII, out of 16 million who served. We lost 6,821 Marines alone on the small, ten square mile island of Iwo Jima toward the end of WWII – where we took a total of 25,000 casualties. We had more people killed in those twin towers than we have lost over several years in the Global War On Terrorism. We will continue to take casualties because freedom isn’t free. But we keep taking the fight to the enemy on our terms, not his. People have to look at and understand this. It is like paying for an insurance policy. We are not losing Soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq at near the horrific rates that we did in WWII and Vietnam. People that have a bias, that have a special agenda, will use whatever they can to spread doom and gloom. And casualty rates are the best way to do that. The wimps want to make it emotional, not the factual basis that us Warriors understand this first hand. Again, we must remember that freedom isn’t free … you have to pay a price, you have to sacrifice, for your liberty. This is exactly what the famous “Up With People” song by the same name proclaimed back in the 1960 when we were in the middle of the Cold War.

Winston Churchill one said: “An appeaser is someone who feeds the alligator, hoping it will eat him last.” I believe this applies to people today who don’t really understand our enemy and what is at stake. Someday they will see they mistakenly chose to be on the wrong side of history. Albert Einstein said it best, “The world is a dangerous place, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

I talked to anti-war protesters the other night (Beaverton High School auditorium: “Iraq: The Rest of the Story”). They had a big sign that said, “War never accomplishes anything.” I went out there prior to our program and shared with them: “First of all, as a Marine Corps officer, I want you to know that I am also anti-war.” And all their mouths fell open and they were kind of in shock. I said: “I hate war because I’ve had close friends, I’ve had buddies, fellow Marines, that have been killed. I’ve seen Coalition members killed and I’ve seen innocent Iraqi kids killed.” I said: “I am anti-war because of that. But you know why I am still a Marine? It’s because I know that there are things that are worse than war and I can give you examples. Things that are worse than war are slavery, torture, and mass extermination. I’ve seen in very graphic, gross detail, one of Saddam’s mass graves north of Al Hillah, Iraq, the ancient name of which is Babylon. The US Army and other Coalition forensic teams uncovered over 10,000 men, women, and children – Iraqi and Kuwaiti – that were butchered in that field. Our bulldozers helped uncover their bodies. When you see bodies of children who were your own children’s ages when they were brutally murdered, and these graves have the toys and dolls these kids were clutching when they were shot, you know what evil is. You know that there are things that are worse than war.”

“Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay; and claims a halo for his dishonesty.”

Robert A. Heinlein

Special Thanks to Dr. Carl Shipley

Tuesday, February 25th

Making Peace in a Combat Zone Part

Making Peace in a Combat Zone - Part 2

“Iraq is the most complex and challenging war that I have ever seen. It reflects conventional combat, counter-insurgency, counter-terrorism, and counter-gang warfare all in one environment.”

Gen David Petraeus, 30 April 2007

Commander MNF-I, Baghdad

In my second tour, I worked closely with two Iraqis. One was a full bird colonel named Tarik Ibrahim. He was an infantry officer. A Shi’ite with a sense of humor, he said what was on his mind. No nonsense. The other gentlemen was also a Shi’ite, but more sophisticated and far thinking. He was a fighter pilot and lieutenant colonel named Akeel Madi. I liked and respected both of them. These two were Iraqi representatives on our staff so I got a feel from them about where the new Iraqi Army was in its rebuilding process. The average American has to understand that the model for Saddam’s army was the Cold War model. You had a small cadre of very professional, politically correct, regime correct, Ba’athists at the top – just like you had politically correct officers from the Communist Party in the Soviet Army. These are the folks (mostly loyal to Saddam Sunnis) who really control what’s going on. And then you have a huge structure beneath them of, like, peons (mostly Shiites and other minorities). These are the guys who are largely forced into the military. It was a Cold War, Soviet model that failed.

My new Iraqi Army friends Tarik and Akeel confirmed the truth. The reason we kicked butt on the initial drive on Baghdad was that most of these “underlings” (Saddam treated them like chattel) did not want to die for Saddam or his Ba’athist cronies. They had seen what had happened in the war against Iran. They had seen what happened in Gulf War I (Desert Storm). They knew we were going to roll in there with a high-tech, highly professional military, and they did not have confidence in their leadership. That’s why the Iraqi Army fell apart and disappeared. They basically dropped their weapons and went home. We took very few prisoners because they blended back into the population.

When Americans understand that, they’ll understand that when we went in there we had to completely rebuild their military system along our Western lines. We rebuilt their military with what we were familiar with and what had worked decisively in combat. And the Iraqis wanted it this way as they had seen our system firsthand. And of course, one of the big missing pieces here was the professional Staff and NCO cadre in the middle, those “strategic NCOs” I just mentioned. In the old Iraqi Army, you had officers at the top and troops at the bottom, but you did not have sergeants, staff sergeants, gunnery sergeants, sergeant majors. They also didn’t have the warrant officers that we have in our Western military. Those are the career enlisted guys who really are the glue that makes the military capable. So we had to start from scratch and build that, and that’s what we’re doing now. It takes time. It’s not something you can just throw money at to have an instant new military. It takes a long time to build up these systems and traditions. It’s like a baby crawling, and an infant toddling, and a child walking.

And sometimes you make mistakes. Sometimes units got committed to engagements right away where the new Iraqi government needed some type of presence. The best example would be the June, July, August period of 2004, when things were happening in Najaf. We were going into a very sensitive area with those Shi’ite mosques in Najaf. We were going into a very sensitive Islamic fundamentalist area with those ancient Shi’ite mosques in Najaf. We needed to have Iraqis actually going into the mosques. We couldn’t have U.S. “infidel crusaders” going in because the Muslim media would have had a field day with that, saying we were desecrating the holy places of Shi’ite Islam. So we needed Iraqi units to go in there right away. We tried to set them up for success, but they had to actually be the guys that went into those mosques. Some of those units weren’t ready to do that but we had to use them anyway. I will never forget that operation, as I was asked to provide Armored D-9 Dozer support (and these were from our Jewish friends in Israel). Fortunately, the Arab media did not pick up on this potential ‘Zionist’ issue.

We (our U.S. Coalition) actually did well in Najaf but it wasn’t always pretty because some of the Iraqi units weren’t ready. We learned a lot of lessons. By November of 2004, when we went into Fallujah the second time, we had Iraqi companies and, to some degree battalions, that had a much better level of capability. So the Marine Corps felt comfortable giving them assigned areas of terrain and they did a much better job than earlier at Najaf. But, you know, you don’t just snap your fingers and have a credible army with the depth of training and traditions we have built up in our U.S. military. It just wasn’t realistic to expect that the new Iraqi Army would start from zero and have those same capabilities and traditions, plus the leadership, right away (Note: it would take years, as events proved later following the U.S. pullout from Iraq under President Obama and the subsequent over-running of much of Iraq by ISIS).

The Iraqis are a smart, literate, hard-working people. They have a real sense of their history and heritage and they are extremely patient. As Americans we were sometimes frustrated with their subjective, fatalistic, hesitant approach to things. I’m confident they’re really going to do something remarkable with their nation. That may not be clear to Americans yet, but it’s just like British General Graham said: “To most of the Western liberal media, bad news is good news and good news is no news.” That’s why you’re (U.S. Home Front) are only hearing the bad stuff – the doom and gloom, defeat and retreat stuff. If guys like me were coming back saying, “We’re losing this thing,” then you should be concerned. But why are the reenlistment rates so high – not just for the Marine Corps but also for the Army? Why are folks willing to go back for a second time? It’s because they believe in the mission. We believe in the Iraqi people because we’ve worked with them now and we know them.

Some people feel that the Iraqis will dislike us no matter what we do because there is so much hostility toward America in the region. I’m reminded of a quote from Dr. Henry Kissinger, “Beware of the danger of using the imperfection of any solution as an excuse for doing nothing.” I think this is so true of Iraq. We can look at Vietnam and draw all kinds of negative parallels about why we shouldn’t be in Iraq. I told my Marines the same thing I tell my kids. What motivates individuals is the same thing that motivates countries, and that is self-interest. Self-interest can be good at times, and it can be bad at times. The number one reason we’re in Iraq is self-interest for America – national security. And international stability as Iraq possesses more oil reserves than any other nation. I tell people, look at Iraq and Afghanistan as giant bug lights. We’re over there killing guys that would otherwise be trying to get over here to kill us. What happened on 9/11 was a ‘home game’. We don’t want any more home games in the Global War On Terror (GWOT). Ever since 9/11, we’ve had nothing but ‘away games’, and away games are good. Afghanistan and Iraq are opportunities for us to kill these bad guys over there. We’re doing a really good thing for Iraq, but it’s good for us too; it’s in our national self-interest. The fact that it’s good for the Iraqis too is, I think, a win-win situation across the board.

Continued - Making Peace in a Combat Zone - Part 3


Wednesday, February 26th

Making Peace in a Combat Zone

Colonel’s Corner –

Making Peace in a Combat Zone

Al Hillah – Things That are Worse than War – Col Mike Howard

by Carl Shipley

In 2006, Dr. Carl Shipley (Ph.D. UCLA in Neuroscience & Computer Engineering) of the UCLA Brain Research Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Intel Corporation, wrote the book “Making Peace in a Combat Zone” – Oral History from the Three Block War in Iraq. He based this work on what General Charles Krulak, Commandant of the Marine Corps, referred to in 1997 as the need for America’s military to be able to fight a “three block war” … Combat, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Aid. And all of this within the same area. This is his chapter based on his interview of Col Mike Howard USMC (Ret).

Colonel Mike Howard

I Marine Expeditionary Force Engineers: March 2003 – July 2003, August 2004 – April 2005

Colonel Mike Howard was one of the most senior Marine engineers in Iraq. He deployed to Iraq twice. He talks about an incident in the initial phase of the war in which a purely peaceful mission almost turned into a riot. The initiative shown by one of Colonel Howard’s sergeants was instrumental in helping control the situation. Colonel Howard uses this as an example of the importance of noncommissioned officers in Iraq, calling them the glue that holds the military together.

This echoes General Krulak’s belief that success in a counterinsurgency depends largely on the good judgment of relatively junior officers. In his article, “The Strategic Corporal,” Krulak presents a hypothetical scenario to illustrate how seemingly peaceful situations can quickly become dangerous when confronting an insurgency. In Krulak’s hypothetical scenario, a Marine corporal successfully defuses a situation in which a peaceful gathering threatens to become a riot. Col. Howard presents a very similar real-life situation.

Col. Howard makes the point that, because of Saddam’s belief in an extremely authoritarian leadership style, his army never developed a cadre of competent low and mid-level officers. Col. Howard believes creating this group of officers is the main challenge we face in building a competent Iraqi Army and that training these officers is a process that cannot be done quickly.

Col. Howard is a military historian as well as a Marine, having earned a Masters in History for which he interviewed 300 WWII veterans. Perhaps because of this academic background, his discussion of Iraq is frequently filled with quotations and a fairly high-level analysis of the war. However, at the end of his interviews, he speaks on a more personal level about a mass grave he visited at Al Hillah. More than 270 mass graves have been found in Iraq. In discussing these graves, Col. Howard argues that, while war is terrible, some things are worse than war.

In my first combat deployment we were in direct support of 1st Marine Division. We crossed the border (from Kuwait into Iraq) on March 20, 2003, for the assault on Baghdad. I deployed as a battalion commander (4th Combat Engineer Battalion) and was also the G-3 Operations officer for the Marine Expeditionary Force Engineer Group, generally known as the MEG. We saw combat immediately. As we were preparing to move out on the initial jump, the Iraqis fired a North Korean made “Seersucker” missile at our headquarters (Camp Commando, Kuwait). I was standing outside, talking on a satellite phone, and the blast from the 1,200 pound warhead knocked me to the ground. Fortunately, a concrete “Texas Barrier” between me and the missile’s impact absorbed most of the force of the blast, but the whole headquarters staff had its chimes rung.

One of the first areas considered “secured” in Iraq was Umm Qasr. It is a port located just fifteen miles from Kuwait. I was asked to accompany Admiral (Charles) Kubic, the MEG commander, in a convoy of Humvees going into Umm Qasr to inspect a large water access point the Seabee unit had constructed for Iraqi civilians. This was a very early attempt by the Marines to show the local Iraqis our good intentions and the water point was humming with activity from Iraqis who were thrilled to have access to the water. Admiral Kubic also had a large portable playground set erected next to the water point and the local children were playing on it. So here I am, in the first stages of the war, pushing a little Iraqi girl on a swing while I helped the Admiral explain the MEG mission to a truckload of international reporters.

When we were finished, the Admiral left to inspect a school being rebuilt by the Seabees and his security detail left with him. I noticed the reporters were slow getting back into their truck so I stayed back with my guys to keep an eye on them. Almost immediately, I could see there was commotion near their truck. A French female reporter had taken it upon herself to start throwing MREs out to the Iraqis. A gang of rough-looking Iraqis surrounded the truck (our Marines referred to this as “getting punked out”) and started grabbing at anything they could carry off including the reporters’ cameras, briefcases, flak jackets, and helmets.

What had been a peaceful scene was turning into a small riot and I knew it could get worse. I told the Marines in my Humvee to stay where they were, placing my sergeant, Matthew Moore, in charge. Then I yelled over at the reporters to get back in the truck and (to the Seabee driver) to get the engine going. I ran to the truck (a large US Navy deuce and a half) and jumped on the running board (just outside behind the driver). I saw an Iraqi grab the blouse of the French female reporter and slam her down onto the bed of the truck, trying to take her purse and camera. I pulled my Beretta and yelled, “Kuff Kuff Yalla Yalla” – basically, Halt, Halt. Move it!” The Iraqi looked at the pistol and dove over the side of the truck but, as he did that, other Iraqis had come up behind me and they started grabbing the back of my service belt, trying to take my K-Bar knife and ammo belt. As I tried to turn and deal with them I saw that Sergeant Moore had come over to help. He started swinging the butt of his rifle to get the Iraqis to back away and, at that point, they decided it wasn’t worth it (pissing off a Marine with a loaded rifle) and they moved off.

By this time, the Seabee driver had gotten the reporters’ truck fired up and moving so Sergeant Moore and I ran back to our Humvee and we all moved out to catch up with the Admiral Kubic’s convoy. It was only after we were moving that I realized how dangerous the situation could have become. A basically humanitarian activity had almost turned into a combat situation in a matter of seconds. I thanked God for the initiative shown by Sergeant Moore who not only saw that he needed to act, even though it meant ignoring my order to stay with the Humvee, but also had the judgment to use the appropriate level of force – enough to control the situation without causing it to escalate further. In the Marines we talk about the “strategic NCO” because we recognize that the ability of these officers to show judgment under pressure is a key to success in modern warfare. When we got back to the States, I backed up my appreciation for Sergeant Moore with a big Mexican dinner at Camp Lejeune and an award at 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, in Baltimore (where all of our Marines received Combat Action Ribbons).

That first time, I was in Iraq from March to July, 2003 (our unit had arrived in Kuwait in early February). I was mobilized again for my second combat deployment in June of 2004 and left for Iraq in August. My position then was as the I (One) MEF G-3 Engineer liaison officer to Multi-National Corps – Iraq C-7 Engineers (this was the main US Army and allied Coalition HQ in Baghdad). I became the senior US Marine combat engineer in Baghdad, working on the Army staff. I was there from August 2004 until April 2005. When someone asks me what my two deployments were like I say that the first was like WWII. It was a classic, conventional offensive (drive on the enemy capitol to get the bad guy). The second deployment was much more like Vietnam. We were facing a guerilla-type insurgency. The second type of warfare has been much more of a challenge.

CONTINUED - Making Peace in a Combat Zone - Part 2


Friday, February 21st

The Home Rule

Are you REALLY Prepared to Defend Yourself – At Home?

by Chuck Klein, Dillon Blue Press, March 2020

Introductory Note by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Col Mike: I often remind folks that ‘when seconds count, the police are minutes away’, and that ‘a gun in the hand beats a cop on the phone’. When I teach various church security teams out on my ranges, I emphasize that most often, it is not the police who are the first responders, but us. And this is particularly true in our homes. The readiness of our weapons (at hand) and the safety of our weapons (locked up), are at two opposite ends of the spectrum. This article does a great job of laying out the importance of these old sayings. I know that my old mentor, fellow US Marine Col Jeff Cooper, would heartily agree!

For at least a hundred years, the debate has raged over the preferred home-defense firearm – rifle, handgun or shotgun. THE HOME RULE is: The BEST defensive tool is a gun, but it is totally useless unless you have it on your person when defense is needed.

Home-invasion scenarios tend to center around the receiving or getting some type of warning, i.e. the bump-in-the-night. With knowledge that something is amiss, time is allowed to secure that hidden or safe-locked firearm, be it rifle, shotgun or handgun.

But what if there is no warning, or you fail to realize the “bump” is a real threat until it’s too late? Imagine your home is the mistaken target of gang-bangers believing you are a stock-piling drug-dealer? If they kick the door down while you and your family are watching TV or sitting at the kitchen table, what are you gonna do … holler “King’s-X!”; “Time out!”; or “Hey, no fair fellas, let me get my gat!”?

Suppose during normal waking hours, there’s an innocent knock at the door – by a person in normal attire or dressed like an ordinary delivery driver? The threat, who pushes the door open as he intrudes, has the advantage. Again, it’s THE HOME RULE that applies. If you have to do something other than draw, point (and fire if necessary), you are the one who is under the control of the invader.

In other words, to be prepared to protect yourself and the occupants of your home, the BEST place for your defensive HANDGUN is on your person. That’s right: in a belly, hip, shoulder or any other type of handgun holster – even your pocket – that’s where your home-defense sidearm should be. And, it should be there every waking moment, no exceptions, no excuses. Besides, that’s the safest place if you have children.

I’ve lived 30 years on farms in the prime deer hunting portions of SW Ohio and SE Indians. I’m either on a tractor, the ATV, in the workshop or just writing at my home/office desk. There is always a handgun on my person. Though I try to keep it covered by a shirt or in the pocket of my bibbers, my children and grandchildren have become used to it for their entire lives. This is not to say I don’t rely on a long gun, especially when encountering poachers - armed men who know they are breaking the law, and the law is a long way away from remote valleys of the farms. Poachers often hunt in pairs, thus when approaching a culprit, I try to utilize the M94 Winchester, which is kept secure in a scabbard of the ATV. Just like racking the slide of an 870, the levering of a round into this classic rifle can be quite sobering. Poachers, by their very nature are generally savvy, inasmuch as they know a shoot-out is not worth the risk. However, my biggest worry tends to be the poachers buddy. If he can slip in behind me, I’m the one who now realizes things might not end so well. Of course, if made to drop my .30-.30 while being covered by a gun-toting perp, I at least have a fighting chance due to my always-carried concealed handgun. So far, I haven’t had to option “Plan B,” but tomorrow ….

With the aggregate of 35 years of law-enforcement and private-investigator experience, I recognize the advantage of keeping calm goes a long way in maintaining survival under stressful conditions. Knowing you have that ace-in-the-hole and are not scrambling – inducing an adrenaline rush – as you scamper through your home for a defensive tool.

Sage advice: One of my fellow rookies at the Norwood Police Academy asked the OIC if we should carry when off-duty. I have not only quoted his advice and taught it in various firearms classes and in written articles, but I’ve lived it. The Lieutenant said: “One either never carries, or one always carries, but one never sometimes carries.”

Oh yeah, one more thing: Keep windows and doors – including screen doors – locked at all times. No, this is not to keep the bad guys out, per se. This is for the evidence of forced entry – that a crime occurred - which might be the difference between you or the real criminal going to prison. To put it another way: you can bet, sans evidence to the contrary, the intruder you had to use lethal force on will claim (or his survivors will) he was an invited guest and that you assaulted him!

Wednesday, February 19th

NASCARs Daytona 500 Race A Race to

by Mikaela Mathews | Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

President #Trump did a quarter-lap at the #Daytona500 to kick off the annual racing event in Daytona, Florida this weekend.

Tens of thousands of race car fans greeted the president with Trump 2020 flags. He arrived in Air Force One at the Daytona International Airport only 800 feet above the stadium, then drove into the stadium with his full motorcade on the speedway, according to Breitbart. The crowd burst into chants of “U-S-A” as the plane flew overhead.

“ #NASCAR fans never forget that no matter who wins the race, what matters most is God, family, country,” he said. “Rubber will burn, fans will scream and the great American race will begin.”

He also thanked Gold Star families, who have lost loved ones in the line of duty, who were attending the race as well. Then, he gave the famous lines: “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

Before the race, Fox News interviewed the president about his NASCAR attendance.

“I think it’s really the bravery of these people…it takes great courage, it’s the speed, it’s really the technology, looking at what’s happened in the last ten years with the cars. I love to see it, I love to watch it,” he said of the four other NASCAR events he’s attended.

During the broadcast, a re-election campaign ad aired to publicize Trump’s work.

“America is great, better than ever,” the commercial began. It continued to highlight Trump’s efforts to boost the economy, secure more jobs, lower unemployment, respect veterans, and secure the borders.

“We are proud to be Americans. Proud of our country, families, and our flag. God bless America and the best is yet to come,” it finished.

The Hill reports that First Lady Melania Trump attended the race with him, as well as Reps. Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

According to CBN, Trump is the second president to attend the Daytona 500. President George W. Bush was the first in 2004.

CBS Sports reports that after completing more than 200 laps around the track, driver Denny Hamlin won the two-day race for the second time. Also notably, during the final lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday, driver Ryan Newman – who had just taken the lead – was clipped by a car from behind forcing his Ford Mustang to spinout. Unable to steer clear of Newman’s car, another driver hit directly into the side of Newman’s car sending it airborne before it burst into flames. Still on fire, Newman's vehicle skidded across the finish line on its roof.

A statement from NASCAR indicates that Newman is in serious but not life-threatening condition.

President Trump extended prayers to the 42-year-old driver tweeting, “Praying for Ryan Newman, a great and brave NASCAR driver! #PrayingForRyan”

Thursday, February 6th

The Israeli Uzi Pro a Great Americ

The Israeli Uzi Pro & a Great American Upgrade

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

In my 32 year experience of serving in the military, particularly two combat tours in Iraq, I have often worked with Israelis. My first long visit to Israel was in 1974-1975 as a college student, while also being a member of the US Marine Reserve, I had ample time to look at and discuss military equipment, tactics, events and history with Israeli vets I greatly respected. I was frequently impressed with how the Israel Defence Force would take a US weapons system and actually improve it … like with the Sherman and Patton tank, the F-4 Phantom (the IAF renamed it “Kurnass” or Sledgehammer in Hebrew) and particularly the US D-9 Caterpillar dozer. The latter came off the assembly line in Peoria, Illinois, were shipped to Tel Aviv, Israel, where a yellow construction D-9R was transformer with additional tons of armor, improved suspension, weapon’s mounts, and other ‘ruggedizing’ into an IDF combat gray-green D-9 “Dubbi” or Teddy Bear. The IDF Infantry were blunt and direct in calling the D-9 Armored Dozer the “Zionist Monster”.

But here is a case where an American has taken a long-proven IDF weapon and improved it in a unique American way. I am speaking of Michael Bonamico of Custom Smith Manufacturing in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Israeli Uzi was designed in the late 1940s just as Israel became a true nation. It was a brilliant design and was almost immediately accepted into the IDF. For 70 years, it has faithfully served as a 9mm sub-machine gun that stood in the breach between a pistol sidearm and a military rifle or machine gun. It has gone through a number of minor changes attempting to improve on an almost perfect design. The latest is the Uzi Pro, a semi-automatic pistol that is now popular across the US. As stated, it is a modernized Micro Uzi semi-automatic pistol based on its world famous Uzi sub-machine gun. Variations on the latter have sold in excess of 2 million units worldwide.

The new blow-back operated 9mm Uzi Pro incorporates advanced polymers in the lower section of the receiver resulting in lighter weight and relocation of the magazine release to a more practical and traditional pistol based location familiar to Americans. And unlike earlier Uzi models, the charging handle has been moved from the top of the pistol to the left side of the receiver. Also appealing to Americans, this allows the addition of a full length Picatinny rail system to the top of the weapon, allowing the use of any optical device that utilizes the Picatinni rail clamp mount. There is also an additional, shorter, Picatinni rail incorporated into the polymer lower forward section just under the barrel that allows the use of lights, lasers, or a forward grip. The Israeli Uzi Pro, made by Israel Weapons Industries (IWI) comes with a polymer folding stock that greatly adds to the pistol’s handling. To me it is like handling a small carbine, enabling the shooter to greatly increase accuracy and range with the 9mm. Mike Bonamico at Custom Smith Manufacturing has taken this to an even higher level of design quality and improved operations. He has built a beautiful folding stock that greatly enhances the Uzi Pro in both appearance, comfort and operations. He has also done the same with an ergonomic forward grip that also proves to be much safer in keeping the shooters forward hand away from the barrel and possible muzzle blast. I highly recommend this American improvement in enhancing a solid Israeli design.

The IWI Uzi Pro is of typical Israeli manufacture: rugged, physically impressive and reliable. It is accurate and robust and with Mike Bonamico’s additional customized stock and grip custom additions, even more awesome in appearance, particularly with a beautiful Trijicon site and mount. It comes supplied with two magazines, one 20 round and one 25 round. A 32 round magazine is also available where permitted by local law. It has fully adjustable front and rear sights that are standard.

The IWI Uzi Pro incorporates three safety mechanisms:

· Manual thumb safety

· Grip safety that must be fully depressed before cocking or firing

· Firing pin block

For those of you wanting to know a bit more about Michael Bonamico and his outstanding company: Custom Smith Manufacturing, I’d like to share highlights from my recent interview with him.

“I had always been a fan of firearms, however not until I moved to Arizona did I ever own one. In New Jersey, where I had lived most of my life, they made it next to impossible to obtain one and there was literately no place to use or practice with it. I have been shooting now for 10 years and was always interested in firearms, I had a YouTube channel called TheScarZone which was shut down by liberals. Later I had another called RangeTime Network (still active) plus my other CustomSmithMFG which I use for my sales and other informative topics. I worked in the IT industry all my life and was getting laid off again (thanks Obama) when I fell into making 3D printed adapters for the Kriss Vector. I had a silly printer that was not very good (hobby kind of printer), however, I felt that I could really do something with this. So I spoke with my wife and she agreed to let me get a $8K printer that was more industry standard. This started me off. My company was called Tech Smith MFG until some Chicago Liberal emailed me letting me know I was using a copywrited name. So I changed it to Custom Smith MFG and that has been me ever since. I ended up growing so well that I was running 3 of those printers non-stop. And then last Feb/March 2019, I stared looking into even higher end machines. I found the one I am now using which really changed everything for me. Having the ability to make pretty much anything now I am full steam ahead and not looking back.”

“The Uzi Pro work I have done is a labor of love. I have been contacted by the Israelis at IWI about directly using my designs and this is tremendously satisfying. I made the barrel shroud for the Uzi pro after a friend commented to me that he thought it could use one. Funny thing was he did not even own one. He just suggested it to me. So I went and acquired one and now here I am. Soon I will be SBRing it and will be off to make a stock for it. As they do not seem to sell them. And now SBR’ing a pistol takes about 1 month. This is going to be a fun and a good option for people. I love what I do.”

Please click this link to see lots of pictures ... https://www.instagram.com/customsmithmfg/

Thank you to the good folks at Israeli Weapons Industry for making the Uzi Pro such a fine weapon.

I also want to thank Michael Bonamico for his custom expertise and outstanding design and engineering work.

Overall description:

Model Number(s) UPP9S

Caliber 9mm Parabellum

Action Semi-auto

Operating System Blow Back

Magazine Type IWI, Steel

Magazine Capacity 20 Round, 25 Round

Barrel Material Cold hammer forged, CrMoV

Barrel Length 4.5″

Overall Length 9.5″

Weight 3.66 lbs.

Rifling 1:10 inch twist, Right hand

Sights Adjustable Target Sights

MSRP $1,109

The Uzi Pro: Great additional Reviews




Tuesday, February 4th

On A Wing And A Prayer

By Rick Reilly

September 20th, 1999

Now this message for America's most famous athletes: Someday you may be invited to fly in the backseat of one of your country's most powerful fighter jets. Many of you already have—John Elway, John Stockton, Tiger Woods to name a few. If you get this opportunity, let me urge you, with the greatest sincerity...

Move to Guam. Change your name. Fake your own death. Whatever you do, do not go. I know. The U.S. Navy invited me to try it. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was toast!

I should've known when they told me my pilot would be Chip (Biff) King of Fighter Squadron 213 at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. Whatever you're thinking a Top Gun named Chip (Biff) King looks like, triple it. He's about six-foot, tan, ice-blue eyes, wavy surfer hair, finger-crippling handshake—the kind of man who wrestles dyspeptic alligators in his leisure time. If you see this man, run the other way. Fast.

Biff King was born to fly. His father, Jack King, was for years the voice of NASA missions. ("T-minus 15 seconds and counting..." Remember?) Chip would charge neighborhood kids a quarter each to hear his dad. Jack would wake up from naps surrounded by nine-year-olds waiting for him to say, "We have a liftoff." Table of Contents X September 19, 1999

Biff was to fly me in an F-14D Tomcat, a ridiculously powerful $60 million weapon with nearly as much thrust as weight, not unlike Colin Montgomerie. I was worried about getting airsick, so the night before the flight I asked Biff if there was something I should eat the next morning.

"Bananas," he said.

"For the potassium?" I asked.

"No," Biff said, "because they taste about the same coming up as they do going down."

The next morning, out on the tarmac, I had on my flight suit with my name sewn over the left breast. (No call sign—like Crash or Sticky or Leadfoot—but, still, very cool.) I carried my helmet in the crook of my arm, as Biff had instructed. If ever in my life I had a chance to nail Nicole Kidman, that was it.

A fighter pilot named Psycho gave me a safety briefing and then fastened me into my ejection seat, which, when employed, would "egress" me out of the plane at such a velocity that I would be immediately knocked unconscious.

Just as I was thinking about aborting the flight, the canopy closed over me, and Biff gave the ground crew a thumbs-up. In minutes we were firing nose up at 600 mph. We leveled out and then canopy-rolled over another F-14. Those 20 minutes were the rush of my life. Unfortunately, the ride lasted 80.

It was like being on the roller coaster at Six Flags Over Hell. Only without rails. We did barrel rolls, sap rolls, loops, yanks and banks. We dived, rose and dived again, sometimes with a vertical velocity of 10,000 feet per minute. We chased another F-14, and it chased us. We broke the speed of sound. Sea was sky and sky was sea. Flying at 200 feet we did 90-degree turns at 550 mph, creating a G force of 6.5, which is to say I felt as if 6.5 times my body weight was smashing against me, thereby approximating life as Mrs. Colin Montgomerie.

And I egressed the bananas. I egressed the pizza from the night before. And the lunch before that. I egressed a box of Milk Duds from the sixth grade. I made Linda Blair look polite. Because of the G's, I was egressing stuff that did not even want to be egressed. I went through not one airsick bag, but two. Biff said I passed out. Twice.

I was coated in sweat. At one point, as we were coming in upside down in a banked curve on a mock bombing target and the G's were flattening me like a tortilla and I was in and out of consciousness, I realized I was the first person in history to throw down.

I used to know cool. Cool was Elway throwing a touchdown pass, or Norman making a five-iron bite. But now I really know cool. Cool is guys like Biff, men with cast-iron stomachs and Freon nerves. I wouldn't go up there again for Derek Jeter's black book, but I'm glad Biff does every day, and for less a year than a rookie reliever makes in a home stand.

A week later, when the spins finally stopped, Biff called. He said he and the fighters had the perfect call sign for me. Said he'd send it on a patch for my flight suit.

What is it? I asked.

"Two Bags."

Don't you dare tell Nicole.

Tuesday, February 4th

The Warrior Song Hard Corps


Video + Music Video: https://binged.it/31sh07f

"The Eagle born to those who pledged their lives and sacred honor was smiled upon by God and freed from chains and iron collar.

He is held aloft on unity, and by history, revered.

For preserving peace through strength his wings now reach across two hundred years…but for each of those, and one year more, God has smiled upon The Corps…

…from the Barbary Coast to the Eastern Sand, by sword, by gun, or by bare hand.

So it’s been, and shall be weighed: Though many are born…few are “made”.

Faithful always, they shall remain…

dogs to loose when war is waged."

Thursday, January 30th

Whats Your Range Day Story

Took one of my friends from work #shooting for the first time, never shot anything bigger then a bb gun. We had my PT109 slim, my 44 mag, my 22 LR, my .357 mag, and my 30-30. I walked him through the small stuff he got comfortable shooting my 357 with one hand, thought he was badass. So he picks up m 44 mag one hand (before this moment he had never fired one after this I had to explain to him just because it was only a two digits in the title of the gun doesn't mean it's weaker then a 357) he picked it up one handed fired off a shot the front sight cracks him right in the head, I was laughing so hard I couldn't breath.

Source: https://www.firearmstalk.com/threads/funny-gun-stories.44131/


Tuesday, January 14th

God Bless America and the Second Am

Virginia Democrats withdrew an AR-15 confiscation bill Monday after thousands of #NRA members showed up to oppose new #guncontrols .

The NRA asked members to flood the January 13, 2020, Virginia Senate meetings and ensure pro-Second Amendment voices drowned out those calling for gun control.

The Washington Free Beacon reports the presence of thousands of NRA members “appeared to have an impact.” Democrats withdrew a bill aimed at AR-15 confiscation and moderated other gun control proposals.

But NRA-ILA Virginia state director Daniel Spiker made clear the changes, though good, were not enough.

He said, “While there were some improvements to some of these bills, overall, it’s still bad legislation. Putting in more regulations and making it more onerous on the law-abiding citizens of Virginia is not something we stand for.”

Richard Cosner, a Chester, Virginia, preacher, was present to oppose new gun controls.

He pointed out attempts to legislate gun control serve as a way to usurp the Constitution: “The Constitution is specific; it ‘shall not be infringed.’ If somebody wants to restrict those rights then they need to follow it by altering the Constitution, not by putting in place legislation that is in conflict with the Constitution.”

Source: https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/01/14/va-dems-drop-ar-15-confiscation-after-1000s-of-nra-members-show/

Friday, January 10th

Waging War on the Pentagon Part 5

by US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (Duty – Memoirs of a Secretary at War)

As usual in a huge bureaucracy, the villains were the largely nameless and faceless people – and their leaders – who were wed to their old plans, programs, and thinking and refused to change their ways regardless of circumstances. The hidebound and unresponsive bureaucratic structure that the #DefenseDepartment uses to acquire equipment performs poorly in peacetime. As I saw, it did so horribly in wartime. And then, as I’ve already said, there was the department’s inexplicable peacetime mind-set in wartime. My role had been to push all these obstacles to the sidelines so that senior leaders like John Young could act urgently to save lives.

To those who contended then, and still do, that #MRAPs were unnecessary and a costly one-dimensional, one-time-use vehicle that detracted from more important long-term priorities, I offer only this response: talk to the countless troops who survived IED blasts because they were riding in an MRAP.

Closing reflections by Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret):

Special Thanks to Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates for what he did in support of us on the front lines in the Iraq War. What he recorded here is highly accurate, though it will be considered “controversial” by those careerist bureaucrats who under-minded our war effort. They may have wrapped themselves in the flag on the home front, but their obstructionism of our urgent battlefield requests for more MRAPs resulted in more of our Marines and Soldiers being wrapped in body-bags and flags. Hundreds of our faithful troops were KIA and thousands WIA because of their subterfuge. Sadly they made good men like Major Franz Gayl USMC (Ret) a scapegoat and forced him to be a patriotic whistleblower in doing the right thing and fighting the good fight for us downrange. There is so much more that needs to be told here as war not only brings out the best, but the worst in those fighting it. These powerful, accurate sections by Secretary of Defense Gates are taken from Chapter 4 of his outstanding book: Duty – Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Knopf, New York 2014, ISBN 978-0307959478, 640 pages.

Robert M. Gates is a man of courage and grit, a true public servant and patriot. I highly recommend you listen to his personally recorded CD book Duty. He is a US Air Force vet. His extensive background with the Central Intelligence Agency and his dedicated service at Texas A&M University helped give him a perspective and clear sense of integrity and mission for his work as SecDef under both a Republican and Democratic administration. His national security background and strong sense of duty were a real blessing to America. In my opinion, he is the finest SecDef to have served our nation since WWII. Of special note, he wrote personal condolence letters to the families of each American KIA while serving during his tough tenure.

As both USMC 4th Combat Engineer Battalion commander (2001-2004) and later I MEF G-3 Engineer LNO to MNF & MNC - Iraq C-7 Engineers (2004-2005) completing two combat tours in in Iraq, I just want to share how important MRAPs were to us accomplishing our mission. I was in on the drafting of the initial I MEF Urgent Universal Needs Statement of February 2005. My experience was based upon personal combat patrol experience out of Camp Victory throughout the Baghdad area. My experiences in the Buffalo MRAP were recorded summer & fall 2004 in multiple After Action reports to both senior US Marine and US Army headquarters in Iraq. I also submitted an article describing and praising the new Buffalo MRAP which was subsequently published February 2005 in the Marine Corps Gazette (on the cover as “Baghdad Buffalo Patrol”). In closing, I again want to honor Major Franz Gayl US Marines (Ret) a hard-charging Marine infantrymen who worked so hard to get us our badly needed MRAPs. He will always be one of those un-sung heroes who took on the Pentagon bureaucracy and its obstructionists.

May God bless and take care of the special families who lost their loved ones in the Global War on Terror.

“… The battle belongs to the Lord.” I Samuel 17:47 … but as one of my Israeli combat engineer friends reminded me: “The Lord often sub-contracts.”

Saturday, January 11th

Waging War on the Pentagon Part 4

On Saturday, May 19, at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, I saw these huge new vehicles for myself. There were a number of different models from different manufacturers being tested. I watched in awe as a test model was blown up by a large #IED and the passenger compartment remained intact. The soldiers inside would have survived. The experts at Aberdeen were identifying the weaknesses and strengths of the different models to inform the program managers, who would decide what to buy, and also to give feedback to the manufacturers about their vehicles. I had nothing to contribute except to reiterate my now-familiar exhortation: “Hurry up! Troops are dying.”

At the end of May, I approved putting the MRAP program in a special, very small category of Defense procurement, effectively setting aside many bureaucratic hurdles typical of military programs. It gave the MRAP program legal priority over other military and civilian industrial production programs for key components such as specialty steel, tires, and axels. I also directed establishment of a department-wide MRAP task force and asked to be briefed every two weeks. I emphasized that getting MRAPs to Iraq as fast as possible was essential and that everyone needed to understand that speed and multiple models meant we would face problems with spare parts, maintenance, training, and more. I said we would deal with those problems as they arose and that we should be candid with the president and with Congress that those potential problems were risks we were prepared to take to get better protection to the troops faster. We also reminded everyone that the MRAP wasn’t immune to successful attack and the enemy would adapt his techniques to the new vehicle. But it would provide better protection than anything else we had.

The magnitude of the challenge became clear at my first meeting with the task force on June 8. The initial approved requirement for MRAPs of all models at that point was 7,774 vehicles. In just a matter of couple of weeks, though, the total proposed requirement had skyrocketed to 23,044 at a cost of a little over $25 billion – I think because the field commanders quickly recognized the value of the MRAP and realized that the vehicles were actually going to get built. But how to produce the huge quantities of critically needed materials for the vehicles, from specialty ballistic steel to tires? How to get the MRAPs to Iraq? Where to base them? How to maintain them? It fell to the task force led by the director of defense research and engineering (and soon to be undersecretary for acquisition, technology, and logistics), John Young, to find the answers to these questions, and find them they did.

On a trip to the Middle East in late summer 2007, I experienced a gut-wrenching validation of the need for MRAPs. While visiting Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, a gigantic logistics center supporting the war effort in Iraq, toward dusk, I was taken to the “boneyard” – an area covering many acres that contained the wrecked remains of thousands of American tanks, trucks, Humvees, and other vehicles. Nearly all had been destroyed by enemy attacks in Iraq. I separated myself a bit from the group and wandered through the endless sandy rows of equipment, each vehicle bearing witness to the suffering and losses of our troops. I imagined their screams and their shattered bodies. As I departed, I knew it was too late to help them, but by God, I would move heaven and earth to try to save the lives of their comrades.

Ultimately, we would but some 27,000 MRAPs, including thousands of a new all-terrain version for Afghanistan, at a total cost of nearly $40 billion. The investment saved countless lives and limbs. Over time, casualty rates in MRAPs were roughly 75 percent lower than they were in Humvees, and less than half those in Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, and Stryker armored vehicles. And there would continue to be improvements. For example, underbelly blasts had such upward force that too often soldiers in in MRAPs would suffer badly broken legs and fractured pelvises, so the flooring and seats were redesigned.

On January 18, 2008, I visited the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, South Carolina, where MRAPs received a final fitting out before being shipped to Iraq. I toured the factory and talked to the workers, many of them veterans themselves. These men and women were skilled salt-of-the-earth patriots who were passionate about what they were doing. Each of those I talked with knew that the vehicle he or she was working on would very likely save the lives of our soldiers. One of them, a bearded, heavyset fellow in jeans and a plaid shirt, invited me to sit in the driver’s seat of the MRAP he was just finishing. He reached into the glove compartment and brought out a laminated card that would accompany the vehicle to Iraq. It had the signatures of the team that had worked on that vehicle. He said they knew lives depended on the quality of their work, and they wanted the soldiers riding in that vehicle to know that each member of that team took personal responsibility for that specific MRAP. He said such a card went with every MRAP.

Beginning in late 2007, every time I visited Iraq, units were proud to show me their MRAPs. Unit commanders especially loved them as they saw their soldiers walk away from attacks that previously would have been fatal. I learned from soldiers that the ride was very uncomfortable, that the vehicles were so heavy(the weight ranged from roughly fourteen tons to nearly thirty tons, depending on the model) that they were not very useful off-road, and that rollovers were a real risk. They were so tall that, when going through towns, the antennas could snag electric wires. Our ingenious troops simply improvised, using long pieces of plastic pipe to lift the electric wires as they went under. Others jerry-rigged ambulances out of the MRAPs, and one brigade commander had a desk put in one to use as a mobile command post. But mostly they just delivered soldiers from one place to another with far greater safety than they previously had. Time and again, commanders would walk me over to a damaged MRAP, and there would be two or three soldiers standing by it who would tell me about surviving an attack on that vehicle. A journalist passed along to me the story of a colonel watching a live video feed showing one of his unit’s vehicles overturned and in flames after an IED attack and praying out loud, “Please, just save one of my guys.” And then he watched, astonished, as all three men inside emerged injured but alive. They had been in an MRAP.

Toward mid-2008our attention turned to the need to get MRAPs into Afghanistan because of the growing IED threat there. As we began to ship growing numbers of the vehicles over time, it became clear that, having been designed for the relatively flat terrain and roads of Iraq, the heavy and hard-to-maneuver vehicles weren’t suitable for off-road use or for rocky and mountainous Afghanistan. Again, the MRAP task force – and industry – responded quickly by designing a lighter, more maneuverable vehicle – the MRAP-ATV (all terrain vehicle).

There are a lot of heroes in the MRAP story, from those in the Marine Corps who kept pressing for an MRAP-like vehicle for years, to program director Marine Brigadier General Mike Brogan and his team, John Young and all those who worked with him on the MRAP task force, my own staff – especially Chiarelli, who was passionate about getting the troops more protection and who daily reminded everyone that I was watching like a hawk – our industry partners, all those great folks in Charleston, and Congress, which on this rare occasion did the right thing and did it quickly. On May 21, 2008, I wrote letters to all the key contributors thanking them for a great achievement. I hand-wrote, “Your efforts – and those of your team – have saved lives and limbs. On behalf of all who return home alive and whole because of your efforts, you have my most profound gratitude.”

Continue Reading Part 5: https://www.colmikehoward.com/article/Waging+War+on+the+Pentagon++Part+5

Sunday, January 12th

Waging War on the Pentagon Part 3

Despite these efforts, more and more of our #troops were being burned, maimed, and killed by IEDs, many of them in Humvees. Humvees could be reinforced with armor on the sides, but there were few practical options left to further armor the underbelly of the vehicle. Soldiers were reduced to putting sandbags on the floors of the Humvees to try to protect themselves. It didn’t help much. Too many Humvees became funeral pyres for our troops, and I would see some of the surviving victims at the burn unit at Brooke #Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Over time more and more side armor was attached to the Humvees, as additional protection from attacks by rockets, grenades, and other weapons, but it still provided little or no protection from bombs that blew up under the vehicles.

I received my first briefing on the mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle I had read about in USA Today on April 27, 2007. The secretary of defense’s conference room is not a big one by Washington (and Pentagon) standards, and it is quite plain, which suited me fine. I always tried to set an informal atmosphere so people would be more inclined to speak up; I don’t think I ever wore a suit jacket to a meeting of Defense officials in that room. The table seats about twenty, with another twelve or so chairs lining the wall. There is a screen for the omnipresent Power-Point slides, and combat photographs line the wall – including one of Doug Zembiec, “the Lion of Fallujah,” whose story had caused me to choke up publically at the Marine Corps Association annual dinner. There was also a coffee cart, essential to my alertness and my self-discipline – for some reason, a coffee cup in my hand made it easier for me not to fly off the handle in briefings that were often frustrating and maddening. There was always a behind-the-scenes battle involving myriad people pushing and shoving to be in meetings I held, and it fell to my two senior assistants to decide who could or could not attend. I guess people felt they needed to be there to demonstrate to others that they were “on the inside” on issues or to protect their sector’s equities. Unfortunately, those in the room rarely gave me the background details – especially about bureaucratic infighting – on the matter at hand that would have helped me understand how the problem had ended up on my desk.

So it was with MRAPs. I learned the background story the same way I heard about the vehicle in the first place: from the newspaper. Two and a half months after my first briefing, I read in USA Today that the Pentagon had first tested MRAPs in 2000 and that the Marine Corps had requested its first twenty-seven of them in December 2003 for explosive disposal teams. At the end of 2004, the Army had solicited ideas for a better armored vehicle – to sell to the Iraqis, not for U.S. use. The first of those vehicles, nearly identical to MRAPs, were delivered to the Iraqis at the end of summer 2006. Meanwhile, in February 2005, Marine Brigadier General Dennis Hejlik in Anbar province signed a request for more than a thousand of the same kind of vehicles for his men. According to the newspaper, Hejlik’s request was shelved; fifteen months later, a second request won Pentagon approval. The first vehicles arrived in Anbar province in February 2007, two years after the original request.

Multiple explanations have been put forward for the delay in getting MRAPs into Iraq. The most significant is that no one at a senior level wanted to spend the money to buy them. The services did not want to spend procurement dollars on a vehicle that was not the planned long-term Army and Marine Corps replacement for the Humvee – the joint light tactical vehicle. Most people believed the MRAPs would just be surplus after the war, which most also thought would soon end. Some argued that the threat from IEDs was evolving, and that only in 2006 had our troops begun encountering the explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) that could cut through our heaviest armor. Others contended that only in 2006 had road-implanted bombs become the primary threat, which ignores the fact that in the summer of 2004 more than 1,000 IEDs exploded in Sadr City alone, and another 1,200 were dug up. Procurement of the heavy MRAP vehicles may also have been delayed because they were seen to be contrary to Secretary Rumsfeld’s goal of lighter, more agile forces. There were doubts whether industry could produce MRAPs in numbers and on a schedule that would meet the need. Finally, most opposed acquiring MRAPs simply because they thought the vehicles were a waste of money; the enemy would just build bigger IEDs.

Whatever the reason, there were hardly any MRAPs in Iraq when I was briefed in April 2007. But I knew damn well that our troops were being burned and blown up in Humvees well before I became secretary and that had they been in MRAPs, many soldiers would have escaped injury or death.

My briefer at that April 27 meeting was the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, General Bob Magnus. (The Marine Corps had taken the lead in developing MRAPs.) In November 2006, the Corps had solicited proposals for an armored vehicle that could protect against roadside bombs, and in January 2007 it had awarded nine companies contracts to develop prototypes. Magnus explained the importance of the vehicles and said that 3,700 were on order for the Marine Corps and 2,300 for the Army, but that there was no money available to pay for them. Only 1,300 were to be built by the contractor in 2007. Business as usual.

On May 2, I met with the secretaries of the Army and Navy, Deputy Secretary England, Pace, and others on the need to dramatically increase the funding, size, and speed of MRAP procurement. I didn’t often get passionate in meetings, but in this one I laid down a marker I would use again and again concerning MRAPs: “Every delay of a single day costs one or more of our kids his limbs or his life.” To my chagrin, not a single senior official, civilian, or military, supported my proposal for a crash program to buy thousands of these vehicles. Despite the lack of support, the same day I issued a directive that made the MRAP program the highest-priority Department of Defense acquisition program and ordered that “any and all options to accelerate the production and fielding of this capability to the theater should be indemnified, assessed, and applied where feasible.” This directive began an all-out push to produce MRAPs, an effort that would become the first major military procurement program to go from decision to full industrial production in less than a year since World War II.

Congress was fully supportive of the project. More than a month before my decision, Senator Joseph Biden on March 28 had offered an amendment, which passed 98-0 in the Senate, providing an additional $1.5 billion for MRAPs and pulling forward money from the FY2008 budget into 2007. At the end of April, Congress approved $3 billion to buy MRAPs during the following six months, and a House Armed Services sub-committee added another $4 billion for FY2008. Congress gave us every cent we requested. Indeed, given how large the MRAP procurement would eventually become, without congressional willingness to add money to the war funding bills for the vehicles, they would never have been built – at least not in the numbers we bought. Without this support from Congress, funding for the MRAPs would have had to come out of the military services’ regular budgets, which would have caused a bureaucratic and political bloodbath. Congress’s habitual lack of fiscal discipline in this instance was a blessing.

Continue Reading Part 4: https://www.colmikehoward.com/article/Waging+War+on+the+Pentagon+Part+4

Monday, January 13th

Waging War on the Pentagon Part 2

For the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the needs of the field commander and their troops were forwarded as requests to the regional (CENTCOM) combatant commander, who reviewed them and, if he was in agreement, pushed them to the Pentagon. Each request then had to pass through a Joint Chiefs of Staff filter, a military department filter, a department comptroller (the money person) filter, multiple procurement bureaucracy filters, and often other filters, any of which could delay or stop fulfillment of the requested equipment. These current, urgent requests were weighed against the existing long-term plans, programs, and available budgets and all too often were found to be lower in priority than nearly everything else – which meant they disappeared into a Pentagon black hole.

There is an express lane for the most pressing war fighter needs, a process to address “joint urgent operational needs.” These requests are evaluated at a very senior level, including the deputy secretary of defense and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Those that are approved are sent to the appropriate military service, which is asked to come up with the money. Another black hole. If the money is authorized, all too often it will be months or years after the “urgent” request is made. Worse, even during two wars, protecting future needs, bureaucratic lethargy, an unwillingness to challenge Congress on pet projects, a peacetime mind-set, and weak leadership in refereeing fights over who should pay for material that everyone agreed was needed all too often resulted in no action at all – even as we had kids dying on battlefields because those needs were not being met. All that was intolerable to me.

Although I had decades of experience in the national security arena, I never made any claim to expertise as a military strategist or defense reformer. I had, however, as I said earlier, successfully led and run huge organizations. I had been brought in to turn around a failing war effort. My fight to sustain minimal support in Congress so that the troops would have time to accomplish that turnaround was tough enough, but I soon realized I would also have to fight the Pentagon itself. I decided I had to be the principal advocate in Defense for the commanders and the troops. I would be both “urgent” and “ruthless.”

To complicate matters, all the services regarded the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as unwelcome military aberrations, the kind of conflict we would never fight again – just the way they felt after Vietnam. The services all wanted to get back to training and equipping our forces for the kind of conflicts in the future they had always planned for: for the Army, conventional force-on-force conflicts against nation-states with large ground formations; for the Marine Corps, a light, mobile force operating from ships and focused on amphibious operations; for the Navy, conventional maritime operations on the high seas centered on aircraft carriers; for the Air Force, high-tech air-to-air combat and strategic bombing against major nation-states.

I agreed with the need to be prepared for those kinds of conflicts. But I was convinced that they were far less likely to occur than messy, smaller, unconventional military endeavors. I was also convinced, based on history and experience, that we were utterly unable to predict what kinds of future conflicts we would face. In fact, after Vietnam, when we used our military - in Grenada, Lebanon, Libya (twice) and Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, and elsewhere – it was usually in relatively small-scale but messy combat. The one time we used large conventional formations with limited objectives – against Iraq to liberate Kuwait in 1991 – the war ended in one hundred hours. The war in Afghanistan, from its beginning in 2001, was not a conventional conflict, and the second war against Iraq began with a fast-moving conventional offensive that soon deteriorated into a stability, reconstruction, and counterinsurgency campaign – the dreaded “nation building” that the Bush administration took office swearing to avoid. In not one of those conflicts had we predicted even six months beforehand that we would be militarily engaged in those places. I felt strongly that we had to prepare our forces in the future, both in training and in equipment, to fight all along the spectrum of combat, from counterterrorism to taking on well-armed nonstate groups (such as the terrorist group Hizballah) to fighting conventional nation-states. Developing this broad range of capabilities meant taking some time and resources away from preparations for the high-end future missions the military services preferred. I would take on that fight in mid-2008, but in 2007 and early 2008, my focus was on getting the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan the equipment and support they needed.

Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected Vehicles

On April 19, 2007, while on an official visit to Israel, I noticed in the Pentagon’s daily press summary, “The Early Bird,” an article by Tom Vanden Brook in USA Today that began, “In more than 300 attacks since last year, no Marines have died while riding in new fortified armored vehicles the Pentagon hopes to rush to Iraq in greater numbers this year, a top Marine commander in Anbar province said.” The article described the vehicles’ raised, V-shaped hulls that deflected the force of blasts from homemade bombs buried in roadways – improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It quoted Marine Brigadier General John Allen, deputy commander of coalition forces in Anbar, as saying there had been eleven hundred attacks on these vehicles in the preceding fifteen months, with an average of less than one injured Marine per attack. I flew on to Iraq that afternoon for twenty-four hours for the key meeting with David Petraeus about troop drawdowns in the fall, returned home for thirty-six hours, and then, on the twenty-second, began a trip to Russia, Poland, and Germany. But I continued to think about this new kind of vehicle and asked for a briefing on it once I was back in Washington.

IEDs had been a problem in Iraq from the early days of the war. As time went by, the bombs became bigger and the insurgents more clever in how they planted, hid, and detonated them. By the end of 2006, the number of IEDs deployed by our enemies in Iraq accounted for up to 80 percent of soldier casualties. To make matters worse, Iraq was providing its surrogates in Iraq with “explosively formed projectiles,” a fairly sophisticated warhead that, when fired, in essence became a molten metal slug capable of penetrating the armor of our heaviest vehicles, including the Abrams tank. To develop countermeasures against IEDs and get solutions, and training, to field quickly, the Army created a task force that changed form several times, but ultimately, in February 2006, at Secretary Rumsfeld’s direction, it became the inelegantly named but critically important Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. It received billions of dollars to develop surveillance and jamming systems to defeat the IED bomb-building networks and to detect and disable IEDs before they exploded. The organization was an early example of a secretary and deputy secretary of defense concluding they had to go outside the normal bureaucratic structure to get a critical combat task accomplished.

Continue Reading Part 3: https://www.colmikehoward.com/article/Waging+War+on+the+Pentagon++Part+3

Tuesday, January 14th

Waging War on the Pentagon Part 1

by former Secretary of Defense Robert Michael Gates

from “Duty” - Memoirs of a Secretary at War (2006 to 2011), Chapter 4

(The Story of the MRAPs)

Introduction by Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret):

In my 32 years as a #USMarine Combat Engineer, I did a half dozen deployments to the Middle East and two combat tours specifically in the Iraq War. I was in on the initial (March to April 2003) assault on Baghdad, Operation #IraqiFreedom , as the commanding officer of 4th Combat Engineer Battalion & the G-3 for the I MEF Engineer Group (the MEG). And a year later (Summer 2004 to Spring 2005) as the I MEF G-3 Engineer Liaison to Multi National Force (MNF) & Multi National Corps (MNC) - Iraq, Camp Victory C-7 Engineers. Getting the right combat engineer related equipment was essential. On the eve of war (2002-2003) I was in on the ground floor of US forces obtaining Israeli armored D-9 bulldozers. This was the subject of my June 2011 article in the Marine Corps Gazette article “Bulldozers to Baghdad”. My second Iraq War tour, I was one of the first US Marines to make a combat patrol (September 2004) in a new Buffalo MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored vehicle. We were taking 60% of our casualties in Iraq from enemy IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), mostly due to our HMMWVs being insufficiently designed and armored for counter-insurgency war. The MRAPs were an outstanding vehicle that had been proven in the South African Bush Wars of the 1980s. We needed them, and we needed them ASAP. I helped draft the initial Urgent Universal Needs Statement of February 2005 that was approved by senior US Marine and Army headquarters in Iraq. Sadly, our requests were ignored and side-lined by Pentagon and MCCDC (Marin Corps Combat Development Command) bureaucrats and careerist program managers who did not want funds diverted from their sacred cow future HMMWV projects. This resulted in hundreds of Americans being killed and thousands being wounded. This important story is told here by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates himself. A true American patriot who courageously confronted the Pentagon establishment. Shame on the Pentagon and those who ignored our desperate requests from the Iraq War front lines …

Waging War on the Pentagon

As of January 2007, I had a new commander headed to Iraq, a new strategy, and 30,000 additional troops. Their success would require a sense of total commitment in the Department of Defense that I was staggered to learn did not exist. It was one thing for the country and much of the executive branch of government not to feel involved in the war, but for the DoD – the “department of war” – that was unacceptable.

Even though the nation was waging two wars, neither of which we were winning, life at the Pentagon was largely business as usual when I arrived. I found little sense of urgency, concern or passion about a very grim situation. No senior military officers, no senior civilians came to me breathing fire about the downward slide of our military and civilian efforts in the wars, the need for more or different equipment, or for more troops, or the need for new strategies and tactics. It was clear why we had gotten into trouble in both Iraq and Afghanistan: after initial military successes in both countries, when the situation in both began to deteriorate, the president, his senior civilian advisers, and senior military leaders had not recognized that most of the assumptions that underpinned early military planning had proven wrong, and no necessary adjustments had been made. The fundamental erroneous assumption was that both wars would be short and that responsibility for security could quickly be handed off to Iraqi and Afghan forces. From the summer of 2003 in Iraq and from 2005 in Afghanistan, after months, even years, of overly optimistic forecasts, as of mid-2006 no senior civilians or generals had been sacked, there were no significant changes in strategy, and no one with authority inside the administration was beating the drum that we were making little if any progress in either war and that, in fact, all the signs were pointing toward things getting worse. (I was later told that some NSC, CIA, and State Department staff were making this case but without effect.)

The historian Max Hastings wrote in his book Inferno that “it is characteristic of all conflicts that until enemies begin to shoot, ships to sink and loved ones – or at least comrades – begin to die, even professional warriors often lack urgency and ruthlessness.” At the end of 2006, we had been at war in Afghanistan for over five years and in Iraq for nearly four years. The enemy had long been shooting, and many of our soldiers had dies, yet our civilian and military leaders and commanders still lacked “urgency and ruthlessness.” I considered it my responsibility to do something about that.

Symbolically, there was no one of high rank in Defense whose specific job it was to ensure that the commanders and troops in the field had what they needed. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke for the armed services and was the senior military adviser to the president, but he had no command authority over the military services or civilian components, and no money. The senior civilians who were my top deputies in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the undersecretaries, had had a policy advisory role and direct authority only within their own areas of responsibility. The very size and structure of the department assured ponderousness, if not paralysis, because so many different organizations had to be involved in even the smallest decisions. The idea of speed and agility to support current combat operations was totally foreign to the building. It was quickly apparent that only I, as secretary, had the authorization to change that. If that gargantuan, labyrinthine bureaucracy was to support the war fighter effectively and with speed, the initiative would have to come from the top. More often than not, that meant bypassing the bureaucracy and regular procedures and running the effort directly from my office. That personal effort to support the commanders and the troops would dominate my entire tenure as secretary.

The Department of Defense is structured to plan and prepare for war but not to fight one. The secretaries and senior military leaders of the Army, Navy, and Air Force departments are charged with organizing, and equipping their respective forces. The last of these chores is all about acquiring the weapons systems, ships, trucks, planes, and other material that the services likely will need in the future, a far cry from a current combat commander’s needs for “make do” or “good enough” solutions in weeks or months. The military departments develop their budgets on a five-year basis, and most procurement programs take many years – if not decades – from decision to delivery. As a result, budgets and programs are locked in for years at a time, and all the bureaucratic wiles of each military department are dedicated to keeping those programs intact and funded. They are joined in those efforts by the companies that build the equipment, the Washington lobbyists that those companies hire, and the members of Congress in whose states or districts those factories are located. Any threats to those long-term programs are not welcome. Even if we are at war.

Continue Reading Part 2: https://www.colmikehoward.com/article/Waging+War+on+the+Pentagon++Part+2

Thursday, January 9th

Petraeus Says Trump May Have Helped

The former U.S. commander and CIA director says Iran’s “very fragile” situation may limit its response.


As a former commander of U.S. forces in #Iraq and Afghanistan and a former CIA director, retired Gen. David #Petraeus is keenly familiar with Qassem Suleimani, the powerful chief of Iran’s Quds Force, who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad Friday morning.

After months of a muted U.S. response to Tehran’s repeated lashing out—the downing of a U.S. military drone, a devastating attack on Saudi oil infrastructure, and more—Suleimani’s killing was designed to send a pointed message to the regime that the United States will not tolerate continued provocation, he said.

Petraeus spoke to Foreign Policy on Friday about the implications of an action he called “more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden.” This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Foreign Policy: What impact will the killing of Gen. Suleimani have on regional tensions?

David Petraeus: It is impossible to overstate the importance of this particular action. It is more significant than the killing of Osama bin Laden or even the death of [Islamic State leader Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi. Suleimani was the architect and operational commander of the Iranian effort to solidify control of the so-called Shia crescent, stretching from Iran to Iraq through Syria into southern Lebanon. He is responsible for providing explosives, projectiles, and arms and other munitions that killed well over 600 American soldiers and many more of our coalition and Iraqi partners just in Iraq, as well as in many other countries such as Syria. So his death is of enormous significance.

The question of course is how does Iran respond in terms of direct action by its military and Revolutionary Guard Corps forces? And how does it direct its proxies—the Iranian-supported Shia militia in Iraq and Syria and southern Lebanon, and throughout the world?

FP: Two previous administrations have reportedly considered this course of action and dismissed it. Why did Trump act now?

DP: The reasoning seems to be to show in the most significant way possible that the U.S. is just not going to allow the continued violence—the rocketing of our bases, the killing of an American contractor, the attacks on shipping, on unarmed drones—without a very significant response.

Many people had rightly questioned whether American deterrence had eroded somewhat because of the relatively insignificant responses to the earlier actions. This clearly was of vastly greater importance. Of course it also, per the Defense Department statement, was a defensive action given the reported planning and contingencies that Suleimani was going to Iraq to discuss and presumably approve.

This was in response to the killing of an American contractor, the wounding of American forces, and just a sense of how this could go downhill from here if the Iranians don’t realize that this cannot continue.

FP: Do you think this response was proportionate?

DP: It was a defensive response and this is, again, of enormous consequence and significance. But now the question is: How does Iran respond with its own forces and its proxies, and then what does that lead the U.S. to do?

Iran is in a very precarious economic situation, it is very fragile domestically—they’ve killed many, many hundreds if not thousands of Iranian citizens who were demonstrating on the streets of Iran in response to the dismal economic situation and the mismanagement and corruption. I just don’t see the Iranians as anywhere near as supportive of the regime at this point as they were decades ago during the Iran-Iraq War. Clearly the supreme leader has to consider that as Iran considers the potential responses to what the U.S. has done.

It will be interesting now to see if there is a U.S. diplomatic initiative to reach out to Iran and to say, “Okay, the next move could be strikes against your oil infrastructure and your forces in your country—where does that end?”

FP: Will Iran consider this an act of war?

DP: I don’t know what that means, to be truthful. They clearly recognize how very significant it was. But as to the definition—is a cyberattack an act of war? No one can ever answer that. We haven’t declared war, but we have taken a very, very significant action.

FP: How prepared is the U.S. to protect its forces in the region?

DP: We’ve taken numerous actions to augment our air defenses in the region, our offensive capabilities in the region, in terms of general purpose and special operations forces and air assets. The Pentagon has considered the implications the potential consequences and has done a great deal to mitigate the risks—although you can’t fully mitigate the potential risks.

FP: Do you think the decision to conduct this attack on Iraqi soil was overly provocative?

DP: Again what was the alternative? Do it in Iran? Think of the implications of that. This is the most formidable adversary that we have faced for decades. He is a combination of CIA director, JSOC [Joint Special Operations Command] commander, and special presidential envoy for the region. This is a very significant effort to reestablish deterrence, which obviously had not been shored up by the relatively insignificant responses up until now.

FP: What is the likelihood that there will be an all-out war?

DP: Obviously all sides will suffer if this becomes a wider war, but Iran has to be very worried that—in the state of its economy, the significant popular unrest and demonstrations against the regime—that this is a real threat to the regime in a way that we have not seen prior to this.

FP: Given the maximum pressure campaign that has crippled its economy, the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, and now this assassination, what incentive does Iran have to negotiate now?

DP: The incentive would be to get out from under the sanctions, which are crippling. Could we get back to the Iran nuclear deal plus some additional actions that could address the shortcomings of the agreement?

This is a very significant escalation, and they don’t know where this goes any more than anyone else does. Yes, they can respond and they can retaliate, and that can lead to further retaliation—and that it is clear now that the administration is willing to take very substantial action. This is a pretty clarifying moment in that regard.

FP: What will Iran do to retaliate?

DP: Right now they are probably doing what anyone does in this situation: considering the menu of options. There could be actions in the gulf, in the Strait of Hormuz by proxies in the regional countries, and in other continents where the Quds Force have activities. There’s a very considerable number of potential responses by Iran, and then there’s any number of potential U.S. responses to those actions

Given the state of their economy, I think they have to be very leery, very concerned that that could actually result in the first real challenge to the regime certainly since the Iran-Iraq War.

FP: Will the Iraqi government kick the U.S. military out of Iraq?

DP: The prime minister has said that he would put forward legislation to do that, although I don’t think that the majority of Iraqi leaders want to see that given that ISIS is still a significant threat. They are keenly aware that it was not the Iranian supported militias that defeated the Islamic State, it was U.S.-enabled Iraqi armed forces and special forces that really fought the decisive battles.

Source: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/03/petraeus-on-qassem-suleimani-killing-says-trump-helped-reestablish-deterrence/

Wednesday, January 8th

Texas Church Shooting A Wakeup Cal

By Ted Diadiun, cleveland.com

This is a tale of two church shootings in #Texas , and what we can learn from them:

The first occurred on Nov. 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, a little town southeast of San Antonio, when an angry man named Devin Patrick Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church there and began shooting and reloading, shooting and reloading. By the time he finished, he had fired 700 rounds, killing 26 churchgoers and wounding 20 more.

Some 11 minutes later, a neighbor who had heard the commotion grabbed his own gun and ran toward the church, hollering at Kelley, still inside the building, who stopped shooting and ran out the church door. Kelley dropped his semi-automatic rifle, pulled out a handgun and began firing at the neighbor, Stephen Willeford, as he ran for his Ford Explorer SUV. Willeford returned fire, hitting Kelley twice, and pursued him at high speeds with the help of a passerby. The chase ended with Kelley dead in his vehicle, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The second happened just last Sunday, in White Settlement, a suburb northwest of Fort Worth. There, an angry man named Keith Thomas Kinnunen, walked into West Freeway Church of Christ with a shotgun hidden under his long coat. Shortly after communion, Kinnunen pulled out the shotgun and fired two shots, killing an usher and a member of the church’s security committee. As he was swinging the gun around to do more damage, he was dropped by a single shot from another member of the security committee, a firearms instructor named Jack Wilson.

The whole thing took six seconds … from Kinnunen’s first shots until Wilson’s fatal shot that ended the threat.

You already know where I’m going with this: The difference between these two assaults was that, unlike the Sutherland Springs shooting in 2017, there were people in the White Settlement church who could protect themselves.

In each case, one unhinged assailant opened fire during a worship service. But here are the other numbers:

Two dead vs. 26 dead and 20 injured.

Two shots from the assailant vs. 700.

Six seconds vs. 11 minutes.

Those numbers provide about as stark an example as you will find for the “good guy with a gun” argument, as it applies to churches, schools and other “gun-free” places that too often have made easy targets for mass shooters. If the numbers don’t encourage the leaders of these institutions to take intelligent steps to arm themselves and otherwise protect their parishioners and others whose safety is in their hands, I don’t know what will.

Following the 2017 Sutherland Springs massacre, the Texas Legislature passed a law making it legal for concealed carry license holders to take their weapons into their places of worship unless expressly prohibited by church leaders. The law, which took effect in September, made it easier for the people in White Settlement to put together the security team that swung into action and prevented the tragedy from becoming far more deadly.

As Texas State Senator Donna Campbell, co-sponsor of the bill, said when it was passed into law, "We have learned many times over that there is no such thing as a gun-free zone.

“Those with evil intentions will violate the law and carry out their heinous acts no matter what," she said. "It makes no sense to disarm the good guys and leave law-abiding citizens defenseless where violent offenders break the law to do great harm."

There is a lesson here for everyone who thinks that a sign declaring a church or a school to be a “gun-free zone” will protect them. The sign will not protect them. A sensible security plan, and people trained to take action should action be necessary, can. If your place of worship does not have such a plan, let this serve as a wakeup call.

The law in Ohio governing concealed carry in churches is not quite as friendly as the new Texas statute, but it does allow churches to protect themselves. In Texas, a concealed carry license holder is allowed to bring a weapon into church unless expressly forbidden by the church leader. In Ohio, it’s the other way around: A license holder can bring a weapon into church only with expressed permission by the church leader.

We can leave the gun control and background check argument for another day, as we face the reality that bad people exist, intent on doing harm, and we need to do something about it. Last week’s attack was carried out by a man with a shotgun. Not even the most extreme gun control advocates suggest outlawing shotguns, so the emphasis should be on self-defense.

Both Willeford and Wilson described the actions they took as a battle between good and evil, which it most assuredly was. But in order for such a battle to be won, there have to be good guys to fight it.

A video of Sunday’s shooting, taken by security cameras in the church, is available on YouTube. What happened, what was done right and wrong and why, is narrated by John Correia, a pastor who describes himself as an evidence-based defensive trainer. If you watch the video, you will see why.

It makes tough watching. Nothing is bleeped out or blotted. But it should be required viewing for anyone who is not yet convinced that our churches and schools should take steps to defend themselves.

Monday, January 6th

Justice Arrives for Soleimani

by Wall Street Journal Opinion, Review & Outlook, Sat-Sun Jan 4-5 2020

Introductory Note by Col Michael C. Howard, US Marines (Ret):

The death of this #Iranian thug was long overdue. And yes, this was very personal to me. After 32 years in the Marine Corps, multiple tours in the Middle East, and specifically two combat tours in the Iraq War, I knew of #Soleimani handiwork firsthand. As a combat engineer, I knew on a daily basis the death toll he exacted against many of my fellow Americans. He was the one who provided Enhanced Penetrator Improvised Explosive Devices to our enemies to be used against our vehicles. We lost over 600 Americans Killed In Action, with many thousands Wounded In Action, with horrible burns and loss of limbs. We knew these devices were coming from Iran, but we were prohibited by our State Department and others from retaliating. I’m thankful that this situation has finally changed under the current administration. I know that most of my Iraq War veteran buddies wholeheartedly agree with me! Robert A. Heinlein said it well: “Pacifism is a shifty doctrine under which a man accepts the benefits of the social group without being willing to pay, and claims a halo for his dishonesty.”

I am thankful that America is finally learning.

For a generation, Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani bestrode the Middle East spreading terror and death. President Trump’s decision to order the general’s death via drone attack in Baghdad Thursday night is a great boon for the region. It is also belated justice for the hundreds of Americans whom Soleimani had a hand in killing.

One reason the U.S. could track and kill Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport was the impunity he had cultivated. The general often appeared in public, especially in Syria and Iraq, and he sought to build Shiite militias and spread Iranian influence. He was killed with Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, an Iraqi-Iranian militia leader who met Soleimani at the airport and was outside the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad this week during an assault that Soleimani had approved.

Soleimani arrived in Baghdad with “plans to attack American diplomats and service members,” the Pentagon said in a statement. Mr. Trump’s critics are demanding to see the evidence of such plans. But why does it matter? Soleimani has killed enough Americans over the years to justify the strike as a defensive act to deter other attacks and send a message that killing Americans won’t be tolerated.

That message will reverberate around the Middle East, not least in Iran, where Soleimani reported directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and was its most powerful military figure. Mr. Khamenei had taunted Mr. Trump with a tweet this week after the assault on the Embassy that “you can’t do anything.” Turns out he could.

Few are more deserving of his fate than Soleimani, who since 1998 had commanded the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).He had a mandate to export Iran’s revolution across the Middle East. The State Department, which labeled the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization last year, says the group was responsible for killing 608 American soldiers (and wounding many thousands) during the Iraq War as it supplied deadly roadside bombs (Enhanced Penetrator IEDs).

American veterans will toast his death, and they’ll be joined by millions in the Middle East. Soleimani abetted genocide in Syria to keep Bashar Assad in power, and he armed Hezbollah in Lebanon with rockets to attack innocent Israelis. Plenty of Iranians also are rejoicing given his role in suppressing popular protests.

Iran is promising retribution, and perhaps it will strike somewhere. But now Iran will have to consider that Mr. Trump will strike back. The U.S. President has shown great restraint – more than we thought he should – in not retaliating after Iran or its proxies shot down an American drone, attacked Saudi oil facilities, and attacked bases in Iraq with U.S. troops 10 times in the last two months.

Mr. Trump finally drew a line at the death of an American and the storming of the Embassy (a very sensitive issue following what had happened in 2012 at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, where the U.S. Ambassador was killed). Perhaps he heard echoes of Barack Obama’s failure in Benghazi. Whatever Mr. Trump’s calculation, Mr. Khamenei now has to consider that even targets inside Iran are not safe.

The death of Soleimani should also reassure U.S. allies spooked by Barack Obama’s many capitulations and Mr. Trump’s partial withdrawal from Syria last year. This assumes Mr. Trump will be resolute if Iran escalates and doesn’t withdraw remaining U.S. forces from Iraq or Syria.

Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, condemned the Soleimani strike, but he hasn’t spoken for his countrymen since promising to resign in November amid popular unrest. Iranian-backed forces helped slaughter hundreds of Iraqi protesters, and many Iraqis took to the streets to celebrate Soleimani’s death. The Iraqi Parliament still may vote to push U.S. troops out of the country, but it would be mistake. The U.S. goal in Iraq is to help ensure Iraqi independence from a revival of Islamic State and Iranian meddling.

The least credible criticism is coming from American Democrats, especially those who worked for the Obama Administration. Their policy was to appease Tehran with a nuclear deal that would supposedly induce its leaders to join the civilized world. Instead the deals cash windfall empowered Soleimani to export revolution.

Now they’re fretting that responding to Soleimani’s mayhem is too risky. Joe Biden said Thursday Soleimani “supported terror and sowed chaos,” but that doesn’t negate “the fact that this is a hugely escalatory move in an already dangerous region.” In other words, Soleimani was a deadly menace, but the U.S. should have done nothing about his depredations because Iran could hit back. That is appeasement, not leadership.

Earlier this week Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy tweeted that “Trump has rendered America impotent in the Middle East” and “no one fears us.” But now he is upset that Iran might retaliate and Mr. Trump struck “without any congressional authorization.” In our view Mr. Trump had the power to act as Commander in Chief. But Mr. Murphy’s logical whiplash shows that loathing for Mr. Trump has so blinded Democrats that they can’t even praise the demise of a murderous enemy.

In brief but useful remarks Friday, Mr. Trump said he ordered the drone strike “to stop a war,” not to start one. That should help to calm down those on the isolationist right threatening that any military action means a ground war in Iran. As Ronald Reagan showed with his 1986 bombing of Libya, a show of force can deter terrorism against Americans. Soleimani’s demise may even make an impression on North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

The U.S. challenge from a revolutionary Iran will continue. But Mr. Trump’s decisive action has struck a blow against terror in the cause of justice and American interests.

Final Note by Col Howard:

Winston Churchill once said: “A pacifist is someone who feeds the alligator, hoping it will eat him last.”

America must understand that in all our history, we never got into a war because we were too strong, but in almost every case because we were too weak, or perceived to be too weak or hesitant. In the Middle East, the perception of being weak, hesitant, or naive can be fatal. Our Israeli friends have been trying to tell us this for decades.

Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, once wisely stated: “Better a critical editorial than a praiseworthy obituary.”

As Americans, we have to resolutely do the right thing. We must remember our heritage as “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”


Sunday, January 5th

What an All Woman Militia in Syria

by Susanne Edward - Monday, December 23, 2019

The women cradled AK-47s as if they were cradling their children. They never intended to be #soldiers. They did not belong to the once U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). But, after years of turmoil in a northeastern enclave of Syria, most of the women in the region had learned to handle firearms with the same normalcy as they’d once learned to keep their homes immaculate and to cook Kurdish delights for their burgeoning families.

I sat on the floor of a forsaken home in Kobane, Syria, a home I am sure was once teeming with music and fresh naan, but it had been drained of color in the months following #ISIS occupation of the city. I was there to watch skilled women teach the not-so-skilled how to handle firearms.

They called themselves “feminists” and belonged to a group called the “Kongra Star,” an all-female group founded in 2005.

When I met them, they’d long since begun to see guns as tools of freedom. When I asked if they’d ever willingly give up their guns, even if or when peace comes to this region, they told me in no uncertain terms they would not. They’d learned too well how tenuous freedom is and had no interest in ever trading in arms for perceived safety.

Still, I am not going to tell you they are all good and that others in the region are all bad, as it’s much more complicated than that. What I found, though, was they had discovered how critical having firearms and knowing how to use them is for any people who wish to be free.

“We will not let the responsibility of defending our land and our rights fall only to the men,” said one woman as she passionately pulled apart and then re-assembled her gun over and over again.

Newcomers sat in a circle learning the basics. The youngest was 18; the oldest was over 60 years old.

When the Kongra Star members heard of a possible clash with Turkey or other militia outfits in the region, they’d rush with whatever arms they had and form giant human shields in the hopes of preventing any advance into the terrain they believe belongs to them and the Kurdish dream.

When it comes to the women who officially took up arms as fighters in the SDF, or in the long-running militia known as the YPJ, I found their role to be equal to their male counterparts. There was no debate about whether females should be shielded from the frontlines or relegated to craggy bases or checkpoints dotting the toffee-colored plains or rugged mountains. They were very involved in the fight. They took thousands of casualties in battles with ISIS.

Their training—many joined with little to no previous weapons experience—also mirrored that of the male fighters. This training typically consisted of around six weeks of drills, physical training, firearms instruction and basic first aid.

It was only in the dead of night—when they trekked back to their soiled mattresses on the floor of a base, an abandoned shack with no electricity and little in the way of water or fresh food, to catch a few hours of disturbed sleep—that I could see the emotional impact the endless fighting had on their calloused exteriors. In oversized nightshirts and bare feet, the women unwrapped their tight buns and combed through one another’s waist-length hair. The sun-worn crevices in their faces seemed to soften. Some glanced down at their wedding rings, sullied by the weeks of grit. Others re-dressed their wounds. Some prayed, some stared absently into the walls that were pockmarked with shell holes.

But there was no self-pity, tears or even complaints. These women knew without a doubt they were fighting for their people, the Kurdish people, to live freely.

Other women I met brought that fight away from the military domain and into the political one.

In April of 2018, some seven months after ISIS was defeated in its self-proclaimed caliphate capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, I met an especially remarkable young woman named Hevrin Khalaf. She was the secretary-general of the newly formed “Future Syria Party,” which intended to incorporate all Syrians regardless of religion or ethnicity and to ensure that the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship would not re-impose its iron rule once the protracted war came to an end.

Hevrin was dressed sharply in a suit with her black hair smoothed behind her ears. She sat in her office in a mostly barren ivory building on the edges of that dilapidated city. She had an aura of serenity, making tea and speaking softly as mortar rounds cracked in the distance.

“We wanted our base in Raqqa because these people have lived under the black flag; they know what it is to lose life and still want to live again,” she told me.

In the days immediately after the sudden troop withdrawal from northern Syria in mid-October, which triggered an invasion from the Turkish army resolved to cleanse the area of what the Turks consider Kurdish “terrorists,” Hevrin was on her way to that office building when her vehicle was ambushed. She was pulled from her car and dragged to the dusty road. Her porcelain face was smashed into the rubble and bullets riddled her body until it was lifeless. The horrific ordeal was filmed and splashed across social media, prompting international outrage.

Contacts in the region tell me that Hevrin’s death has only fueled their desire for freedom. After meeting them, I have no doubt they will not, cannot, abandon their dream. But in them, I also found a common bond. In my many conversations with these women, and especially in their actions, I found them to be a remarkable example of how the right to defend our own lives and our freedom is fundamental.

When I left Syria, I left with a greater appreciation for the Second Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights


Monday, January 6th

Classic Firearms in Modern Day Appl

By Doug Larson

Some readers will remember seeing first-run episodes of such westerns on television as The Rifleman and Gunsmoke. A common firearm seen in most of them is the lever action gun. And back in the days depicted in these television shows and in western movies, the #leveraction was used for hunting, shooting fun, contests, and self-defense. It was versatile and effective, and it still is.

Like the modern rifles of today – the AR-15 being the most common example – the lever gun was chambered for a variety of cartridges. And even though technology has advanced and semi-automatic rifles and carbines are common, the lever gun is still a viable platform. And it is great fun to shoot.

It may not have the magazine capacity of an AR-15 and it is not self-loading nor can it be fired quite as fast, but with the proper techniques and practice, it is very fast to shoot, accurate, and has enough magazine capacity to hold its own in most life-or-death encounters. Although there are exceptions, most such incidents are at close range where iron sights are adequate and the number of rounds fired is few.

The versatility of lever guns became obvious when a group of gun writers and experienced shooters recently met at Gunsite Academy located near Prescott, Arizona for a three-day class using lever action rifles and carbines. Taught by experienced Gunsite instructors and range masters, Lew Gosnell, Ed Head and Gary Smith, the basics as well as the finer points of gun handling and marksmanship with the lever gun were presented and practiced until all students gained a satisfactory level of competence.

So, why would anyone consider using a lever gun instead of an AR-15 for any task these days? Well, unfortunately, some readers live in jurisdictions where the possession or use of the modern rifle – the AR-15 – is infringed. But in some of those same jurisdictions, possession, and use of a lever action gun is not. After all, it’s just a “cowboy” gun and does not bring to mind the irrational fear that some people feel at the mere sight of an AR-15. In times of civil unrest, it can be very effective for use as a defensive tool, and in fact, I know of at least one law enforcement officer, when he found himself in just such an environment, armed himself with a lever gun for that very reason.

But proper training and then practice are – as they are with all firearm self-defense skills – required for the lever gun to be effective. A major problem though is finding the right training. Despite the increase in defensive firearms training instructors and schools, only a very few have expertise with lever guns. A quick Internet search revealed that of the few that offer lever action courses, only one appears to offer classes that are more than a few hours long. That’s Gunsite Academy, the oldest and the most prestigious privately owned firearms training center in the world.

Continue Reading: https://www.gunsamerica.com/digest/the-lever-gun-in-modern-times-train-to-use-it-effectively/

Monday, January 6th

Shotgunarmed Preteen vs Illegal Ali

Two illegal aliens, Ralphel Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11-year-old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home.

It seems these crooks never learned two things:

1. They were in Montana.

2. Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine.

Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father's room and grabbed his 12-gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun.

Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor, only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old's knee-crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals.

When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before medical help could arrive.

It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45-caliber handgun he took during another home invasion robbery. That victim, 50-year-old David 0'Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the chest.

Ever wonder why good stuff never makes NBC, CBS, PBS, MSNBC, CNN, or ABC news?

Wednesday, January 1st

Firearms Saved Lives in Texas Churc

by The Dallas Morning News

Part of the solution to mass violence involves enabling innocent people to defend themselves and others.

On Sunday, the kind of news no one wants to see slid across the landscape. There was a shooting at a church in White Settlement outside of Fort Worth, and there were casualties. But as we delved into the details, we will admit feeling first a sense of relief that the loss of life was not larger — two innocent lives were lost along with the assailant — and then a sense of gratitude.

Our gratitude, which was also felt by Gov. Greg Abbott, comes from the knowledge that this mass shooter would have likely incurred a lot more mayhem except for the fact that a good man and a volunteer member of the church’s security team immediately shot back. In response to the era of mass shootings that we are in, Texas specifically enacted a law to allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons in church (and elsewhere, unless specifically prohibited at that location). That law saved lives this weekend in North Texas.

Regardless of whether people like this fact, it remains true that there have been at least two church shootings in #Texas in recent years that ended because law-abiding citizens had the means and willingness to fight back. The second occurred two years ago in Sutherland Springs, and unfortunately resulted in the loss of many more lives. But as in this most recent shooting, in that incident the assailant did not survive after good men responded with force.

The truth is that there isn’t one solution that will bring an end to all mass attacks, which is one reason we’ve supported such things as creating a federal center to evaluate local, state and federal laws to find the cracks violent criminals exploit to obtain firearms. But it is also true that part of the set of solutions will have to involve enabling innocent people to protect themselves and each other up to and including fighting back.

If that’s tough to consider, there is another hard reality cast into sharp relief by this latest shooting. As in many other incidents — whether it’s a knife-wielding attacker on a Jewish community in New York or a synagogue, church, mosque or other shooting — the attack in North Texas was an assault on a community, on a group of people freely associating with each other and working toward common purpose.

These attacks are pernicious and act with particular purpose to destroy communities. They seek to kill more than individual lives. They seek to kill social bonds that bind us together. They seek to divide and isolate, to leave survivors feeling alone or unsafe in any common space. So it is all the more important for us to stand together in defense against hateful, divisive and evil purpose. It is civil society itself that’s under attack.

Thursday, December 26th

One Nation Under God

"If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under." - Ronald Reagan


Monday, December 30th

Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MRA

Note: As the commanding officer for 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, attached to I MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) in direct support of 1st Marine Division, I had been directly involved in the acquisition and employment of Israeli armored D-9 bulldozers by USMC & US Army engineers. We used these very successfully for the initial March-April 2003 assault on and capture of Baghdad. They were also tremendously successful the following year at the final Battle for Fallujah. I also served as the G-3 for the MEF Engineer Group (MEG). Recognizing the need for adapting to this new insurgency threat, it was easy to make the transition of focus from Israeli D-9s (affectionately known as the ‘Doobi’ – Hebrew for Teddy Bear), to these South African vehicles now collectively called ‘MRAPs’ (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). At the start of my second Iraq War combat deployment, summer 2004, I was assigned by I MEF as the G-3 Engineer Liaison Officer to the Coalition C-7 Engineers (Army HQ Camp Victory, Baghdad). I made several patrols in them. One October 2004 “Halloween” patrol in particular was the subject of my February, 2005 Marine Corps Gazette article “Baghdad Buffalo Patrol”. It was obvious to all of us USMC, US Army and other Coalition combat engineers that we needed more of these MRAPs as fast as we could get them. HMMWVs were just not doing the job as they were highly vulnerable to bottom and side blasts by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The same month my article supporting MRAPs was published, I participated in the drafting of the February 2005 Urgent Universal Need Statement (UUNS) by the Assistant I MEF CG that was approved and forwarded to HQMC and the Pentagon. Those of us directly involved in the initiation of this battlefield UUNS were bitterly disappointed when it met a slow and ponderous strangulation and attempted death by the Pentagon bureaucracy more concerned with preserving its own sacred cow HMMWV upgrade programs.

To us, it was the hard-charging warriors like Franz Gayl who confronted the bean-counting careerists who falsified the battlefield MRAP requests and incorrectly represented this to the senior general decision makers like Generals Conway and Mattis. Fortunately, it was a man of character and understanding like Secretary of Defense Bill Gates who realized the Pentagon politics of the situation and got us the MRAPs the warfighters desperately needed. There is so much to be learned from this story. How do you speak truth to power? And what is owed to the Warfighters on the front lines by those making staff decisions in the rear? As a former US Marine infantryman, Major Franz Gayl knew this and had the courage to do what was right.

We must learn from the past. As a military historian, this MRAP story reminds me of the Mark 14 torpedo debacle and Sherman tank gun & armor fiascos of WWII. Bureaucrats in the rear got warfighters killed on the front lines. What is the use of a battlefield Department of Defense Urgent Universal Need Statement if it is ignored, miss-represented and buried by those not fighting in the rear?

God bless Franz Gayl who had the intelligence, initiative, moral integrity and courage to be an honest advocate for those on the front lines of what an MRAP truly was and the desperate need for it. Adding more armor to a HMMWV was, as one of our Gunny’s said: “Simply putting lipstick on a pig.” As a no-nonsense infantry officer, Franz Gayl understood this. Not only did he play an essential role in this MRAP story (and pay a career cost as an honest Marine and reluctant whistleblower), but his and SecDef Gate’s efforts no doubt resulted in the current family of vehicles fielded today being much better in carrying enhanced mobility and blast resistant attributes.

Tuesday, December 31st

Mine Resistant Ambush Protected MRA

Iraq War

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

As a career USMC Combat Engineer officer (1974 to 2006), I was from my earliest days in the Marine Corps trained in landmine warfare and armored vehicles. The experts in the beginning were the Rhodesian and South African Armies who had dealt with these threats during what was referred to as the Bush Wars. As the leading experts on guerilla operations, mine warfare, ambushes, and vehicle defenses, they developed a series of vehicles which were studied by Australian, British, Israeli and American combat engineers. The definitive work was the 1986 book called “Taming the Landmine” by Peter Stiff. Fortunately, U.S. and Coalition forces had access to some of these original vehicles that had been exported out of South Africa. Utilizing these in Iraq, both our military and private industry quickly realized that these were an immediate solution to the irregular warfare situation that we were confronted with by the enemy insurgency.

One of the best of the South African armored vehicles was the Casspir. I first saw one in support of Coalition forces at Camp Victory, Iraq in the summer of 2004. Most Americans called it “Casper” as in ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost’ as they were painted white. But the name Casspir is actually a South African abbreviation based on Customer, South African Police, Council for Scientific & Industrial Research. It is an MRAP that has been in used by South Africa since 1980. It is a troop transport with four wheels and four-wheel drive. It has a two man crew and can carry twelve troops. The Casspir, when first fielded, was a unique design providing passive mine defense with its “V” shaped hull. The armored troop compartment is raised high above the ground, so when a mine or Improvised Explosive Device (IED) is detonated, the main force of the explosion is diverted up and outward, not through the vehicle floor killing the crew. The MRAP also provided crew protection from most small arms fire. This vehicle was highlighted in the 1986 military history classic “Taming the Landmine” by Peter Stiff, who focused on the Bush Wars. These main Casspir capabilities were the basis of the outline capabilities expressed by the US Marine Corps for their first MRAP vehicle project. USMC combat engineers had studied the two years of extensive field testing that the South African Police had conducted from 1978 to 1980. South Africa placed its first order for an initial 140 Casspirs in March 1980. At least 190 Casspir Mark 1 models were manufactured by Henred Fruehauf that first year. It was first used in combat by Koevoet, South West African Police. The improved design Casspir Mk. 2 production began the following year. The first Mark 2 saw combat with the 101 Battalion South West African Territorial Force. The US was able to procure 68 Casspirs from a variety of sources.

The first real MRAP that America produced and used was called The Buffalo (known as the “H” or later “A1” Model). I saw my first one, of a limited number available, late summer of 2004 at Camp Victory, Iraq. I made my first patrol in one, accompanied by four up-armored HMMWVs in October, 2004 in and around Baghdad, primarily on Route Irish. We all loved our Buffalos (Army and USMC) from the start. It was built by Force Protection, Inc. (later purchased in 2014 by General Dynamics Land Systems) outside of Charleston, South Carolina. It was the largest MRAP in Force Protection's line-up, followed by the lower silhouette Cougar MRAP. The Buffalo bore a close resemblance to the Casspir, but had six large wheels (run-flat capable), not four. The Buffalo also came with a large, thirty foot, articulated arm with a robotic claw on the forward right side. Mounted cameras and sensory equipment were part of the arm employment. This was used for exploring, probing and dismantling suspected IEDs and mines. Like the Casspir, both the Buffalo and Cougar had “V” shaped hulls to deflect explosions. Some Buffalos would later be equipped with cage armor for additional RPG protection. Glass armor six inches thick was also standard. Several secret, color coded (based on specific range), counter-electronic systems were carried to jam and interfere with enemy command-detonated and/or cell phone electronic signals used to detonate IEDs. The Buffalo combined armored ballistic blast protection with state of the art infrared detection technology. It was highly effective in dealing with IED’s and mines. The arm could also be employed against explosives attached to overpasses, electrical towers, and tall lighting. By late 2004, fifteen more were ordered at a cost of $10 million. Despite all of our best efforts to order more from Iraq using the Department of Defense UUNS (Urgent Universal Needs Statement) by both US Army Senior HQ and USMC I MEF HQ, the Pentagon unforgivably drug its feet over the next two years. Petty bureaucrats and careerist development military and civil service types did not want MRAPs interfering with or drawing financial support from their “sacred cow” projects like the upgraded HMMWV. Tragically, this would cost the lives of hundreds of American Soldiers and Marines KIA and thousands WIA. It would take the new SecDef Robert Gates to address and correct this crime. MRAPs became his #1 equipment acquisition priority as The Surge was launched in early 2007. By 6 June 2008, Force Protection, Inc. delivered its 200th Buffalo to US forces desperately fighting the Iraq War. By June 2014, the 795th Buffalo (an improved A2 Model) had been built.

Wars: Iraq War, Afghanistan War

Production History

Manufacturer: Force Protection, Inc.


- Mass: 45,320 lb (20,560 kg) (curb weight)[1], 56,000 lb (25,000 kg) (max weight)[1]

- Length 27 ft (8.2 m)

- Width 8.5 ft (2.6 m)

- Height 13 ft (4.0 m)

- Crew 2+4


- Armor: All wheels and centerline mine protected

- Engine: Mack ASET AI-400 I6, 330 KW (450 HP)

- Payload capacity: 38,680 lb

- Transmission: Allison HD-4560P automatic

- Suspension: 6×6 wheeled

- Ground clearance: 15 in (410 mm)

- Fuel capacity: 85 gal

- Operational Range: 300 mi (483 km)

- Speed: 65 mph (105 km/h)

Continue Reading Part 2: https://www.colmikehoward.com/article/Mine+Resistant+Ambush+Protected+MRAP+History++Part+2

Thursday, December 19th

In a World Full of Trends I want to

Chuck Norris was shot with a gun. The bullet was critically injured. - by Worst Jokes Ever


Tuesday, December 17th

Assault Weapons in US History

In 1907 (112 years ago), our great-grandparents were able to buy the rifle pictured above. The semi-automatic Winchester Model 1907. This is a gun they could buy from a Sears catalogue and have delivered to their home. It is a semi-automatic, high powered, centerfire rifle, with a detachable high capacity magazine.

About 400,000 of these were produced before WWII. Civilians had hundreds of thousands of these semi-auto rifles for 40 years, while US soldiers were still being issued old fashioned bolt action rifles, like the Springfield ’03. The 1907 fired just as fast as an AR-15 or AK-47 and the bullet (.351 Winchester) was actually larger than those fired by the more modern weapons.

The only functional difference between the 1907 and a controversial and "much feared" AR-15 is the modern black plastic stock.

To summarize:

The semi auto, so-called "assault rifle" is 110 years old. It isn’t new in any way. The semi auto rifle was not a weapon of war. The government made it a weapon of war 40 years after civilians had them.

The semi-auto can be safely owned by civilians. The proof is that literally theee generations of adults owned and used them responsibly and no one ever even noticed.

Want to fix the horror of mass shootings? Fix the things that have changed for the worse in the last 50 years. The rifle technology in question was here long before this insanity.

We can thank all this insanity to the moronic anti-gun politicians who, most of them, know nothing about weapons. Oh, yes, and don’t forget the spacial interest groups, mostly leftist liberals.

Keep your powder dry. No telling when we will need it.

Sunday, December 15th

Part 3 America Again Attacked by S

Pensacola Naval Air Station attack of December 2019

Continued from Part 2:

We didn’t learn our lessons with the Fort Hood shooting, The Navy Yard Shooting, The Chattanooga shooting, so now we have this. Will we finally recognize the threat and allow those who have sworn to defend the constitution of the United States the ability to defend themselves while at work on US soil? I doubt it. Sadly, I think it will take an action similar to what President Trump took with Chief Gallagher to make stubborn and stupid Navy leadership do what is the obvious and correct course of action.

Should we have seen this coming?

Absolutely. When I told my father (a retired Naval Aviator) that a foreign student was responsible, he responded “I’ll bet it was a Saudi.”

A brother is a veteran Naval Flight Officer who trained in Pensacola. His response, “It’s probably a Saudi.”

My neighbor from Pensacola who now flies for an airline “Mother F***, you know it was a Saudi!”

For some reason, there is a political push to excuse these attacks as one-off, or that the perpetrator was “radical”. The news is already saying “There is no direct link to a terrorist organization.”…as if ISIS gives out membership IDs and T-Shirts. The Politically Correct folks tell us to not judge an entire religion or culture by the actions of a single individual.

The Factually Correct among us look at this chain of events and see no coincidences. The fact that such a large portion of the Saudi contingent knew of the impending attack and chose to participate, and none chose to stop it show the truth that many have long known but few in leadership will acknowledge. The actions taken by this Royal Saudi Officer were not at all “extremist”. His views and actions were well in line with the mainstream Saudi Officer in the unit.

Defenders of Islam will say that it is a “Religion of Peace” and only “extremists” join the terror groups. With sad irony, many critics of Islamic terrorism have observed the rise of ISIS with their pool of men and resources flowing largely from Sunni Saudi Arabia have said said that it’s the extremist Muslim who is actually fighting, but the peaceful Muslim is the majority….they just write the checks. The example in Pensacola shows us that it’s the minority extremist shooting his classmates, it’s the peaceful Muslim standing alongside filming.

Students of history will know that these terror attacks are not random nor motivated by “extreme” thinking. It is an American tendency to think that history started in 1776, or maybe 1492 at the earliest. Our schools teach world history and battles that took place in Europe as being between empires like the “Romans” and “Ottomans”.

They leave the parts out where it was the HOLY Roman Empire that defeated the ISLAMIC Caliphate in Vienna, September 11th 1683. This military defeat and it’s date is etched into the cultural identity of every Muslim just like the Alamo and San Jacinto are taught to kids in Texas. The only difference is that Texas school children don’t have a religious document telling them that the conquest continues and it is their life-long Jihad to install Islam as the law of the entire world.

The events in Pensacola last Friday are minuscule in the scope of world history. It is, however, a perfect illustration of the war of cultures (and yes, religions) that we currently find ourselves in as participants. While the Politically Correct in Washington will likely downplay the details and work to wipe the event from the headlines to preserve an alliance, the Factually Correct among us are still walking the streets with Saudi terrorists at large.

Those in our military will follow the orders they gave their oaths to follow, though we strongly disagree with them. We will likely continue to risk our lives and work to train people that hate us, and would kill us if given the opportunity. The King of Saudi Arabia can say that the actions don’t reflect those in his Kingdom. The facts make him a liar.

Where do we go from here?

1. Immediately allow all Commissioned Officers and senior NCOs (E-7+) who are qualified (military or CHL) to carry a military equivalent or issued weapon while on duty.

2. All Saudi personnel in the US should be restricted to base, and have their quarters searched for weapons. If they had no knowledge, they should be expelled. If they did have knowledge or participated, they should be executed.

3. Suspend training Saudi personnel indefinitely. Only resume the program when the FBI can conduct background checks for each student and officer. Once screened and admitted, Saudi students should be restricted to base and not allowed into the community.

4. Evaluate the “alliance” between the US and Saudi Arabia beyond the fact that they are a client nation buying billions of dollars in weapons and training. Is our strategic relationship with the Saudi government worth the cost inflicted on us by a Saudi population which clearly hates us and continues to do us harm. Do the officers that we train for combat ever actually participate in conflict in a meaningful way that supports US interests or relieve demand on US forces. If not, disband the program forever.

5. Be better students of history. Value reality above wishful thinking. Judge cultures and religions by what they do, rather than what they want you to think. Take political blinders off and build and execute policy based on reality rather than wishful thinking.

That is all.

The End

Tuesday, December 17th

Part 2 America Again Attacked by S

Pensacola Naval Air Station attack of December 2019

Continued from Part 1:

What is it like training an international student?

Each nation is different, and it was interesting to see some stereotypes play out and interact with different cultures. The Swedish and Norwegians were your typical vikings. The Germans were often humorless, focused, and smart. The Singaporeans were incredibly disciplined, and this group of students policed itself in an impressive manner. Any Sing who did poorly on a flight or test would have the other students ensure they did well the next time around. I’d gladly fight alongside any of these guys any day of the week. I stay in touch with several of my students as their careers advance.

The Saudi students have an entirely different reputation and structure to their training. While all of the other nations employ a form of meritocracy to be in the flight program, the Saudi students are typically the child of a Saudi sheik, politician, or member of a rich/important Saudi family. They all drive luxury vehicles, and flaunt their wealth to the other students and instructors. It isn’t unusual to see a Saudi student wearing designer shoes that cost thousands of dollars with their uniforms instead of their issued shoes or boots.

The Saudis do not stand any of the squadron watches (Like assistant OOD (Officer of the Deck), where the flight schedule is executed), while other nations participate fully in squadron functions. The Saudis also have a cadre of senior officers in Pensacola, ostensibly to monitor and aid the progress of the students. They employ a number of former/retired (US) Navy pilots to serve as tutors to the Saudis, and also to provide instruction on how to properly interact with their US instructors and inside of American society. The retired officers also act as a liaison to the American command structure.

Our instructors are told that we can only instruct the Saudis in flying. Issues regarding disciple, respect, or military bearing, etc all have to be referred to the liaisons. Those issues are rampant among the Saudi contingent, and are well known among the chain of command. While there are certainly some Saudi students who have been respectful and disciplined, the norm is an aloof, arrogant child who seemingly feels superior to his instructor.

American and non-Saudi international students are expected to show up to the pre-flight briefs ready to explain all of the concepts required in the flight to the instructor (proof they study and paid attention in class). Saudi students often show up to briefs unprepared to meet that standard, and expect the material to be presented to them anew. The norm for the Saudis is to pass the student regardless of performance, unless they are simply a danger to themselves, then they get referred back through the liaisons.

We are paid to move them through the pipeline and deliver them having completed the syllabus. We can’t make them study. One friend had a Saudi student refuse to recover an aircraft from a spin, and simply threw up his hands and stated “If Allah wills it, it will recover.” This was during out-of-control flight, with the aircraft falling several thousand feet per minute. The instructor took the controls, recovered from the spin, and returned to base. That student eventually graduated.

I have had conversations over the last 3 days with at least a dozen current or former Navy flight instructors. Unanimously, the sentiment is that Saudis should be expelled from training in our program. Not only is there legitimate concern for personal safety and national security, there is a general feeling that they won’t be able to put their feeling aside and provide proper training.

Why did the Sheriff Department have to stop the shooting and not active duty watch-standers or military police?

In short, because the Sailors at NAS Pensacola were failed by their leadership.

After the Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga was attacked by a Muslim terrorist, then Candidate Trump was critical of the policy of military members being disarmed while on duty. The only reason that the Chattanooga body count wasn’t higher, was because the Navy Commanding Officer (an aviator) had disregarded policy and had his personal handgun with him in his office and he confronted the attacker and returned fire. He would later say that he disregarded policy because the safety of his command was his ultimate responsibility. He defended his command that day, and saved lives.

The next ideation of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) included provisions to allow commanders the discretion to allow CHL holders to bring their personal weapons onto base to defend themselves in similar instances. Tragically, no US commander has had the guts to implement the allowances granted by law.

Continue Reading Part 3….

Tuesday, December 17th

Part 1 Sharia Saudi Terrorists Str

(Islam Religion of Peace My Ass)

What Really Happened at Naval Air Station Pensacola, and Why

December 9, 2019 by David Blackmon

Special THANKS to Michael Beggs USMC (Ret) for forwarding & highlighting

Note: Our Veteran Network (Vet Net) received the following over the weekend. It is long, but well worth the read if you want to really understand the program there, how Navy leadership failed those who were injured and killed in this Islamic terror attack, and the real scope of who was involved. Much of this runs contrary to the official government/media narrative, which should come as no surprise to any informed person. Please forward.

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Outstanding article and very accurate.

I wholeheartedly agree with his recommendations.

I saw this same ‘get them through the program’ in college and the military. They are raised on wealth and privilege. They are indulged, protected, and not allowed to fail or be dropped from programs. It is all about politics and money.

Arab arrogance, anger, elitism, narcissism, and a stubborn inability to be objective toward the real world, results in their subjectivity toward all things. Islam is more than a religion, it is a pervasive, dark ideology. And Sharia Law is completely incompatible with Western Civilization and the US Constitution.

This is from an American Veteran with 20+ years of service, a Naval Aviator who flew combat missions in Iraq, had 15+ years in counter-terrorism and served as a flight instructor at NAS Pensacola.

I reported to Building 633 at Naval Air Station Pensacola in October of 2002. Checking in to flight school is a point in time for each future aviator that is never forgotten. Nobody becomes a Naval Aviator by accident.

Setting foot on the quarterdeck and dropping your orders to get stamped at Naval Aviation Schools Command is the culmination of years of applications, college, physical training, aptitude screenings, FBI background checks, and performance well above your peer group who had also been competing for the coveted “pilot spot”. If you get there via the Naval Academy, ROTC, or Officer Candidate School, when you get to Pensacola, you have “made it”, but you are also just starting.

Instructors and staff refer to the entirety of the training program as “The Pipeline”. The start of The Pipeline is the front desk at Building 633 in Pensacola. This is where the first reality check for future aviators sets in, as class and flights don’t start the next day. There are only a certain number of seats for each API (Aviation Preflight Indoctrination) class, and there is a waiting list. “A-Pool” is where you wait (a pool of people, not of water). Building 633 is where A-Pool is administered, and where the weekly Friday morning muster takes place, and where the next week’s “class up” list is announced.

This is where the terrorist attack took place.

The Naval Aviation Training “Pipeline” at a glance:

-A Pool. Pensacola.

-Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API), 4 weeks of academic classes and water survival courses. Pensacola.

-Primary Flight Training (150ish hours in a T-6 Texan). Pensacola or Corpus [Christi]

-Advanced Flight Training (Jets, Props, Helicopters). Wings are earned at completion of Advanced. Pensacola (Helicopters), Corpus (Props), Kingsville & Meridian (Jets)

-Fleet Replacement Squadron. (Learning your fleet aircraft). Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard aviators all go through the same training pipeline through Advanced.

It was just after 0700 last Friday when my phone starting ringing. A relative’s best friend called her in a panic because her husband wasn’t responding, and she wanted to know if I knew anything. Luckily, he is a doctor at the hospital at Corry Station, about 3 miles away and nowhere near the shooting and I was able to put them at ease for his safety.

I had a group chat with about 20 officers still in the area. Friends and co-workers were exchanging information, all of them aviators, many still on lock down. Some of them were directly in charge of the response and involved in the investigation. All of this is available now in open media, but this is what I know.

The Saudi terrorist checked in on Monday and seemed “normal”. He held the “dinner party” on Thursday night with more than 10 Royal Saudi Air Force Officers in attendance. At this party, they watched videos of mass shootings, mostly Islamic propaganda. The next morning, Friday, he systematically attacked building 633 while one of his fellow officers followed and filmed, several other Saudis waited and observed the attack from a car.

The attacker started at the Quarterdeck (front desk), and the 3 killed were on duty at the time. Ensign Watson was the duty officer, was shot 5 times and still managed to call first responders and evacuate the building and personally direct them to the location of the shooter prior to dying of his wounds. The other 2 killed were also in the immediate vicinity of the quarterdeck. Many of the wounded were as well, some being wounded as they tried to climb out of windows.

Per Navy policy, none had weapons to defend themselves.

The first responders that confronted the shooter were from the local sheriff’s department. Two were wounded in the gun battle, and the terrorist was killed. Three active duty Americans were dead, 8 more wounded, 2 deputies wounded. Many of the wounded were shot through the doors of classrooms on multiple floors of building 633. Most of the base remained on lockdown well into the afternoon as the base was systematically searched for the missing Saudi terrorist officers. By day’s end, 6 additional Saudi Arabian officers were in FBI custody, and several were at large in the community and a man-hunt is still underway.

So, over a 5 day span, the terrorist checked in, acquired a handgun with 4 extended magazines and ammunition, posted a manifesto online condemning the US as a “nation of evil” along Islamist and anti-Semitic lines, planned and executed his attack with at least 3 accomplices. At least 10 Saudi Military Officers knew of the plan, and either participated or did nothing to stop it. Each one of these individuals had passed the screening process to come train in the United States. That brief recount of the chain of events begs a series of questions, some of which are easier to answer than others.

Here are some of the most obvious questions, and my best effort to answer them.

Was this terrorism?

Absolutely. Much has been made of the lack of a formal declaration by the Military or other Federal Authority, but I understand the delay. Not only is a long term alliance involved (more on that later), but there are several members of the Royal Saudi delegation still at large within the United States. If you declare all of them terrorists, it makes the possibility of an orderly surrender virtually zero. On the off chance that these guys were at Waffle House at the time of the attack and are freaked out and hiding, it’s appropriate to not label them terrorists, yet. Congressman Gaetz has appropriately called this terrorism and called for a review of entire program.

Why are we training Saudis in Pensacola?

While the brightest light is on the Saudis in the program, we train aviators from multiple nations in Pensacola. Germany, Sweden, and Singapore also have a large volume of students train in Pensacola. The obvious comparison to this incident is to the fact that the majority of the 9-11 hijackers trained in Florida. It is an important distinction to note that all of those individuals were civilians and had no interaction with any military training program.

It is equally important to note that 10+ members of the Royal Saudi Air Force knew of a planned mass murder of American military, and either participated in it or agreed in principal to allow it to happen.

Saudi Arabia is currently our strongest ally in the Middle East. We base troops there, we stage equipment there, we get our fuel for operations from there. If we are going to be involved in the Middle East, we need an ally like Saudi Arabia.

We were also allies with Iran, until the Islamic Revolution there resulted in the famous hostage situation. Then were the allies with Iraq, until Saddam fired on the USS Stark (killing 37 sailors) and subsequently invaded Kuwait. So for now, we are allied with Saudi Arabia.

Please continue to Part 2 …

Tuesday, December 10th

Part 2 An American Hero who stood

In 2010, three years after Gayl first blew the whistle, his security clearance was revoked. Unfortunately, this is a common retaliatory practice for intelligence whistleblowers as it prevents them from completing job duties. The Corps followed this by placing him on administrative leave. GAP stood by Gayl’s side as he has remained committed to his principle of protecting the lives of both American troops and foreign civilians by speaking out on the procurement failures of military bureaucracy.

During these various stages of retaliation, there was no question in the public information sphere that Gayl’s actions saved lives. In June 2011, shortly before leaving his position, then-Secretary Gates stated that MRAP deployment saved “thousands of lives” in an interview with USA Today. Today, these vehicles are in wide use by troops throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. Gayl’s courage did not deserve the retaliatory treatment he received.

His determination paid off. In September 2011, the Corps proposed his indefinite suspension without pay – essentially a firing. In October 2011, the Merit Systems Protection Board granted a 45-day stay request from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that prevented the Corps from taking this action until the OSC had a chance to investigate. Days later, GAP and POGO continued to champion Gayl’s case by delivering petitions to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (with nearly 4,000 signatures combined) demanding

that the retaliation against Gayl stop.

In November 2011, the Marine Corps reinstated Gayl’s security clearance eligibility, allowing him to resume his regular work duties. A full interview with Gayl is available here.


This is a great victory, not just for Gayl, but for whistleblowers in general. “I want to express my deepest thanks to all who have supported me throughout this ordeal,” stated Gayl. “It goes without saying that absent the continuous advocacy of GAP and POGO, I would have been forced from government service years ago.”

Gayl’s determination and perseverance is a model to patriots everywhere. Few whistleblowers can lay claim that they saved lives through their actions – let alone thousands of our nation’s troops. Franz Gayl demonstrated bravery throughout this ordeal, proving that – even facing powerful military bureaucracies – truth can effectively fight wrongdoing.

GAP is pleased that Gayl is finally getting the recognition as a whistleblower that he deserves. His courageous actions saved untold soldiers’ lives in Iraq, and today in Afghanistan. However, while this win is an encouraging step forward for whistleblower protection, it will not necessarily be the norm for future whistleblowers until Congress has finally codified better protections into law.

Safety Whistleblower

As a career USMC Combat Engineer officer (1974 to 2006), I was from my earliest days trained on Mine Warfare and armored vehicles. The experts in the beginning were the Rhodesian and South African Armies who had dealt with these threats during what was referred to as the Bush Wars. As the leading experts on guerilla operations, mine warfare, ambushes, and vehicle defenses, they developed a series of vehicles which were studied by Australian, British, Israeli and American combat engineers. The definitive work was the 1986 book called “Taming the Landmine” by Peter Stiff. Fortunately, U.S. and Coalition forces had access to some of these original vehicles that had been exported out of South Africa. Utilizing these in Iraq, both our military and private industry quickly realized that these were an immediate solution to the irregular warfare situation that we were confronted with by the enemy insurgency.

As the commanding officer for 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, attached to I MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force) in direct support of 1st Marine Division, I had been directly involved in the acquisition and employment of Israeli armored D-9 bulldozers by USMC & US Army engineers. We used these very successfully for the initial March-April 2003 assault on and capture of Baghdad. I also served as the G-3 for the MEF Engineer Group (MEG). Recognizing the need for adapting to this new insurgency threat, it was easy to make the transition of focus from Israeli D-9s (affectionately known as ‘Doobi’s – Hebrew for Teddy Bear), to these South African vehicles now collectively called ‘MRAPs’ (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). At the start of my second Iraq War combat deployment Summer 2004, I was assigned by I MEF as the G-3 Engineer Liaison Officer to the Coalition C-7 Engineers (Army HQ Camp Victory, Baghdad). I saw my first MRAP ‘Buffalo’ prototype shortly after my arrival, and made several patrols in them. One patrol in particular was the subject of my February, 2005 Marine Corps Gazette article “Baghdad Buffalo Patrol”. It was obvious to all of us USMC, US Army and other Coalition combat engineers that we needed more of these MRAPs as fast as we could get them. HMMWVs were just not doing the job as they were highly vulnerable to bottom and side blasts by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The same month my article supporting MRAPs was published, I participated in the drafting of the February 2005 Urgent Universal Need Statement (UUNS) by the Assistant I MEF CG that was approved and forwarded to HQMC and the Pentagon. Those of us directly involved in the initiation of this battlefield UUNS were bitterly disappointed when it met a slow and ponderous strangulation and attempted death by the pentagon bureaucracy more concerned with preserving its own sacred cow HMMWV upgrade programs. To us, it was the hard-charging warriors like Franz Gayl who confronted the bean-counting careerists who falsified the battlefield MRAP requests and incorrectly represented this to the senior general decision makers like Generals Conway and Mattis. Fortunately, it was a man of character and understanding like Secretary of Defense Bill Gates who realized the Pentagon politics of the situation and got us the MRAPs the warfighters desperately needed. There is so much to be learned from this story. How do you speak truth to power? And what is owed to the warfighters on the front lines by those making staff decisions in the rear?

We must learn from the past. As a military historian, this MRAP story reminds me of the Mark 14 torpedo debacle and Sherman tank gun & armor fiascos of WWII. Bureaucrats in the rear got warfighters killed on the front lines. What is the use of a battlefield Department of Defense Urgent Universal Need Statement if it is ignored, miss-represented and buried by those not fighting in the rear?

God bless Franz Gayl who had the intelligence, initiative, moral integrity and courage to be an honest advocate for those on the front lines of what an MRAP truly was and the desperate need for it. Adding more armor to a HMMWV was, as one of our Gunny’s said: “Simply putting lipstick on a pig.” As a no-nonsense infantry officer, Franz Gayl understood this. Not only did he play an essential role in this MRAP story (and pay a career cost as an honest Marine and reluctant whistleblower), but his and SecDef Gate’s efforts no doubt resulted in the current family of vehicles fielded today being much better in carrying enhanced mobility and blast resistant attributes.

Franz Gayl Video:


Wednesday, December 11th

Part 1 An American Hero who stood

Franz Gayle, Troop Safety Whistleblower

Government Accountability Office – Interview hosted by Mark Cohan

“While Pentagon generals and bureaucrats were wrapping themselves in patriotic cloaks on the home front, they were also wrapping American troops killed in action in Iraq in flag draped caskets.”

From 2003 to early 2008, over 60 percent of all American troop deaths in Iraq were a result of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) – homemade roadside bombs. One would think that if a Pentagon staffer detailed a simple way to greatly reduce these casualties, it would be met by higher-ups with welcome, and enacted as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately for Franz Gayl, a civilian Marine Corps official (and former Marine himself), he found that requests for the obvious solution to this problem became lost in bureaucracy while our soldiers continued to die. When he raised concerns to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), and later Congress and the media, he succeeded in accelerating the delivery of better-armored vehicles and a number of counter-IED surveillance systems. However, in the process of making his disclosures he unexpectedly made himself a target of unjust retaliation.

GAP has guided Gayl during his fight. The Corps reprimanded Gayl for speaking out, lowering his once-stellar performance evaluations. His security clearance was revoked – essentially preventing him from fulfilling his duties. The Corps even tried to indefinitely suspend him without pay. After a long and arduous battle, Gayl is now able to resume his old job duties. Throughout this ordeal, GAP has assisted him legally by taking him on as a client and fighting these unjust actions. We have also worked to help Gayl’s story receive the attention it deserved from major media outlets, such as the Associated Press, USA Today,Washington Post, NPR’s On The Media, and the Washington Monthly.


Gayl has spent a lifetime serving his country, enlisting in the Marines the day after his 17th birthday in 1974. After retiring in 2002, he was hired as a science adviser to the Corps at the Pentagon.

In February 2007, after returning from a five-month stay in Iraq, Gayl increased scrutiny of the situation surrounding the delivering of several military items including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), various battlefield surveillance systems, and ‘directed energy’ non-lethal weapons.

MRAPs are vehicles that are more able to protect troops from IED blasts than were armored Humvees – the more common protective vehicle in service at that time. In fact, Marines and soldiers riding in Humvees during IED attacks are more than ten times as likely to suffer death or maiming than if they were riding in MRAPs. The Humvee design was especially susceptible to IED attacks, as it had a comparatively low mass and several of its critical parts were made of flammable aluminum. Its flat, concave bottom ended up focusing blast energy, essentially creating a “death trap” for soldiers. However, the requests for more than 1,000 MRAPs were held up in the Marine Corps bureaucracy for 19 months during the height of the Iraqi insurgency. Gayl discovered that in 2005, MRAPs were never intended to be fielded in needed numbers because they competed for funding against bureaucratically-wed programs, including the Humvee program. Had MRAPs been available to troops, Gayl maintained, they could have prevented hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

Separately, Gayl found that there had been numerous field requests for effective, ‘directed energy’ non-lethal weapons, which momentarily incapacitate targets from hundreds of yards away. These technologies would have greatly reduced the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqi citizens killed in incidents where they simply failed to respond to instructions from military personnel at security checkpoints. Dating back to 2001, Corps personnel requested the development of these laser and millimeter wave weapons to give troops non-lethal alternatives. Again, they competed for funding against programmatic interests of the bureaucracy and were never properly developed or fielded.

His Need to Speak the Truth

While still in Iraq, Gayl wanted to make his concerns about the chronic delay and denial in fulfillment of soldiers’ requests for better combat systems – especially MRAPs – known to Defense Department decision-makers. Unfortunately, when inside-the-beltway Marine managers realized that his invited presentation would reveal gross mismanagement within their bureaucracy, Gayl’s superiors stopped him from presenting his observations to the OSD. Additionally, his supervisors issued him a written admonishment, and told him to delete all drafts of his would-be presentation. Gayl’s job description was also rewritten to diminish his duties relevant to science and technology, those for which he was hired.

But Gayl conducted an MRAP study anyway – a study that identified several ways that the Marine Corps dropped the ball, including how:

• Marine Corps bureaucrats failed to acknowledge and act on IED effectiveness. Instead of approving MRAP funding, they simply added more armor to the inferior Humvees.

• An urgent 2005 request for MRAPs by the American General in charge of Marine forces in Iraq was, in the words of the Associated Press, “lost in bureaucracy.”

• Marine Corps staff failed to provide top leaders correct information, resulting in “inaccurate and incomplete” information about MRAPs being passed on to Congress and the Defense Department Joint Staff.

• Marine Corps procurement officials felt MRAPs were, again according to the AP, an “expensive obstacle to long-range plans for equipment that was more mobile and fit into the Marines Corps’ vision as a rapid reaction force.”

In 2008, Gayl completed other studies on surveillance systems and non-lethal systems. Many of his findings paralleled those of his MRAP study with respect to bureaucratic internal funding interests repeatedly overruling legitimate soldier requests for combat equipment.

Going Public

After returning from Iraq in 2007, Gayl saw how the Corps responded to his internal whistleblowing, and he knew he had to go public. With assistance from GAP and our sister organization POGO, Gayl disclosed his unclassified observations to both the media and Congress. Beginning in 2007, major media outlets began publishing an explosive series of articles on his disclosures. More details on corrupted management practices were revealed to Congress and the press after Gayl disclosed his unclassified case studies in 2008.

Gayl’s efforts on each issue resulted in action from prominent US lawmakers. Following their letters to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Marine Commandant in 2007, then-Senators Joe Biden (D-De) and Kit Bond (R-Mo) called for a probe into Gayl’s disclosures in 2008. Along with the late Ted Kennedy (D- Ma), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the senators took action, including calling on the DoD to perform a complete review of how the Pentagon handles urgent wartime requests for equipment. In 2007, Sens. Biden and Bond also called on the Corps to stop their retaliation against Gayl. In 2008 Sens. Kennedy and McCaskill did the same.

The Marines responded to Gayl’s effective efforts with ugly personal harassment and attempted retaliation from every angle. His supervisors insisted that Gayl engaged in theft of Corps’ intellectual property when he used unclassified information he learned on the job to blow the whistle to Congress. The Corps even reprimanded him specifically for communicating with General Petraeus in response to an urgent request initiated by the General. Military officers supervising his work engaged in obscene public name-calling in an attempt to brand him a “coward” for daring to challenge Corps activities. The Corps gave him performance evaluations that placed him in the bottom 3% of over 160 National Security Personnel system employees within his pay pool, when he had a spotless record prior to this (including a Commanding General recommendation to consider him for the Senior Executive Service in his personnel evaluation coming out of Iraq).

Click the link below to read Part 2:


Franz Gayl Video:


Monday, November 25th

Dont Wake a Sleeping Giant

What kind of tea did the American colonists thirst for?… Liberty!


Saturday, November 16th

OHare Airport Butch OHare Easy Ed

Colonel’s Corner

O’Hare Airport – Butch O’Hare & Easy Eddie A Story of Love, Duty & WWII Heroism

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret) – Here are two special stories that have been handed down through our WWII Veteran’s network over the years. At their heart is the lesson of integrity, courage and sacrifice. They are BOTH TRUE.


Many years ago, mobster Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed 'Easy Eddie.' He was Capone's lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends, as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al 'Scarface' Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:

“The clock of life is wound but once, and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”


World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare, United States Navy.

He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank.

He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent.

Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible, rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron turned and headed off back to their home.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of WW II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's Memorial, an actual F-4 Wildcat displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was the son of 'Easy Eddie'.


Saturday, November 16th

Missing at Midway Most of USS Horn

Missing at Midway – Most of USS Hornet Air Group & Their Sad Flight to Nowhere, 4 June 1942

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

“by 1024…the Japanese were certain they had won the battle and the war. This was their high tide of victory. Japan had been on top…(but) by 1030, her carriers were flaming death.”

“…the threescore young aviators who met flaming death that day in reversing the verdict of battle. Think of them … every Fourth of June. They and their comrades who survived changed the whole course of the Pacific War.”

Samuel Eliot Morrison,

The definitive WWII US Naval Historian,

of the men of USS Enterprise, USS Hornet,

USS Yorktown and Midway’s Marine Air

Group 22 (with old Brewster Buffalos).

"Midway was the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare."

John Keegan, Military Historian

I love History. And I love a good Hollywood film accurately depicting it. Midway has had two fine versions done in my lifetime (1976 & now 2019) that really put a lot of time, money, solid acting and good script into sharing this important story. But history is a humbling art as it is never finished. It is always open for re-interpretation based on perspective and fresh research. Or the opening of old secrets based on the passage of time. The other thing I appreciate about Hollywood is that it captures the imagination of the younger generations and stirs them to study history on their own. It opens up a whole new world of adventure to them far better than their iPhone games or other mindless personal electronic devices.

The Battle of Midway was a great victory for America. Our military worked together and made incredible sacrifices to defeat the Japanese Navy and neutralize the threat to Midway, the Hawaiian Islands, and the US West Coast.

But as I said, history is never really over, nor is it a thing of the past. There are truths that sometimes are hidden and obscured that over scrutiny and the test of time, are revealed and need to be further studied. Midway has its secrets that still need to be exposed to the light. For light is what heals. Many junior officer US Navy airmen have attempted to tell the story of a cover-up after Midway. Not only is their story highly credible, but I personally believe it and am saddened that the makers of both motion pictures chose to ignore it.

The most important of these insider stories is that of the large US Navy Air Group from the USS Hornet. Where was it on the morning of 4 June 1942? Who commanded it? What was his background? Why was he so unpopular with his men and fellow pilots? Why did he ignore the sound skills, intelligence and leadership of his best squadron commander? Why did he insist on flying in the wrong direction? Why did he file a false After-Action report? Why was he never honest about it? And why did the culture of the United States Navy suppress and cover it up? And to add a final indignity to the truth and sacrifices of those who served and sacrificed under him, why did the Navy later inexcusably promote him to Admiral?

These are still questions that need to be answered. Many good men died because of this. Their service and sacrifice need to be emphasized and honored. And perhaps the bureaucratic, careerist mentality of the Navy needs to be re-examined. I am reminded of the stalwart Admiral Hyman Rickover USN, Father of the US Navy nuclear program, who had himself been the subject of Navy prejudice (he was Jewish) and stated: “The US Naval Academy is the only institution I know of that takes men and turns them into boys.”

Sadly, the story of USS Hornet’s Air Group is not being told. Only her Torpedo Squadron 8 engaged the enemy & under courageous Lieutenant Commander John Waldron was completely destroyed with no support from the rest of her Air Group. Stanhope Ring, CO of Hornets Air Group was a prideful man & very poor navigator. He took most of the Hornet planes due West instead of South West where the Japs actually were. That meant Hornet’s Scouting, Bombing & Fighting Squadrons were not where they should have been. Ring’s men never forgave him. He was later relieved by Admiral Mark Mitscher of his Air Group command. Within all the Navy insiders it has always sadly been known as “The Flight to Nowhere”. The truth needs to be publically known. Adm. Marc Mitscher, Raymond Spruance & even Chester Nimitz covered this so as not to embarrass the Navy and diminish any of the afterglow of a monumental victory. They focused on public opinion in covering for Stanhope Ring. Bottom line, had Hornet’s Air Group been where it should have, all 4 Jap carriers would most likely have been sunk in the morning and the last surviving carrier, Imperial Japanese Ship Hiryu, would not have been able to launch a fatal air strike on the USS Yorktown in the afternoon.

I am limited here by space. My purpose is to highlight this important aspect of the Battle of Midway, one that our US Navy Aviation community has known for decades. I want to point future generations who are passionate about military history and its many lessons to this “Flight to Nowhere” by the Hornet Air Group under Stanhope Ring. I highly recommend several fine historical studies. There is more out there that needs to be thoroughly studied and reported upon. They are in different formats: after action reports (take a close look at the lack of many missing After-Action Reports from within Hornet’s Air Group – and sadly, many of those who could shed light on this were KIA on 4 June 1942). The definitive works as I see them are The Battle of Midway by Craig L. Symonds (2011) & its outstanding CD version in 13 CDs covering 14 hours read and performed by James Lurie ((2012). This is worth every penny at $14.99 by BrillianceAudio unabridged, PO Box 887, Grand Haven, Michigan, 49417 and by phone: 1-800-222-3225. The other definitive story of Lieutenant Commander John Waldron and his courageous Torpedo 8 Squadron of the Hornet is: Sole Survivor by George Gay, A Dawn Like Thunder by Robert Mrazek, and No Right To Win by Ronald Russell. All tell the brave, tragic story of Torpedo 8.

As I said, History is fascinating & is never really over. It should humble us and keep us leaning forward for the truth.

Never forget Lieutenant Commander John Charles Waldron and his brave fellow Warriors of Torpedo 8.

A down and dirty Battle of Midway Summary

(what motivates me to remember and give thanks each Memorial Day)

- all 15 of Hornet's VT-8 torpedo planes were shot down (old TBD Devastators)

- 12 of 14 of Enterprise’s VT-6 torpedo planes were shot down (Devastators)

- 10 of 12 of Yorktown’s VT-3 torpedo planes were shot down (Devastators)

- and 15 Marine Corps VMF-221 (of MAG 22) fighters were shot down (F2A-3 Buffaloes)

Bottom line: Of the 41 American Devastators launched against Japs on 4 June, 37 were lost.

All three US Navy torpedo squadrons (VT-8, VT-6, & VT-3) were destroyed.

American sacrifice consumed Jap fighters and gave US dive bombers free rein for attack.

Jap carrier losses of 4 June 1942 (all four ships had attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941):

(note: Admiral Nimitz kept a photo of all six behind his desk & crossed them off as sunk).

- Akagi (Red Castle): sunk by 2 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Kaga (Increased Joy): sunk by 4 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Hiryu (Flying Dragon): sunk by 4 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Soryu (Green Dragon): sunk by 3 bombs from Yorktown (Dauntless SBDs)

Final American revenge - of the two remaining Jap carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor:

- Shokaku (Flying Crane): sunk 19 June 1944, Philippine Sea, 4 torpedoes by USS Cavalla.

- Zuikaku (Lucky Crane): sunk (25 October 1944, Leyte Gulf) by 9 bombs, 7 torpedoes from

USN aircraft.

This was the final American “payback” for Pearl Harbor.


Monday, November 11th

Command Failure Lloyd Fredendall an

Colonel’s Corner

Command Failure: Lloyd Fredendall and the Battle of Kasserine Pass

by Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines:

“There are no bad battalions, just bad battalion commanders.” Napoleon

The Battle of Kasserine Pass for American military historians is like the Atlantic equivalent of Pearl Harbor in the Pacific … it was a disaster to be debated and studied. There are so many lessons to be learned and applied toward our future. Kasserine Pass was the first significant US Army battle in the WWII Campaign for North Africa. US Marines were holding their own and pushing forward against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands at places like Guadalcanal. The Tunisian Campaign was the US Army equivalent in pushing the Germans out of North Africa. Britain and her coalition of Allies had been methodically driving Rommel and his Afrika Corps westward out of Egypt and across Libya since the Battle of El Alamein in late 1942. The Germans were now in danger of being encircled in Tunisia with US forces advancing from Morocco in the west and British forces in the East. It was February 1943, and Hitler had rushed reinforcements to Rommel, particularly new German Tiger tank units. Rommel decided to strike the Americans hard before the British had advanced to confront him. The German place of choosing was Kasserine Pass, a strategic two mile wide gap in the chain of the Atlas Mountains in west-central Tunisia.

At Kasserine, veteran German units under Rommel rapidly struck inexperienced American II Corps units under Major General Lloyd Fredendall. The latter had been slowly advancing eastward in an unsecure manner. Fredendall assumed that the Germans were virtually defeated in North Africa.

But like a cornered predator, Rommel and his experienced Africa Corps still had a lot of fight left, and they were determined to prove this to the naïve Americans. The Battle of Kasserine Pass was the first major engagement between American and Axis forces in World War. Rommel caught Fredendall by complete surprise. US troops were poorly led and suffered heavy casualties. They were rapidly pushed back some fifty miles. Eventually the US II Corps rallied and was able to stop the German advance.

Kasserine Pass demonstrated a lack of American senior operational leadership in North Africa. It resulted in the United States Army instituting a series of sweeping changes in unit organization and tactical training and use of equipment. But above all, it resulted in Eisenhower relieving Fredendall of his command and replacing him with General George Patton. This has always reminded me of the American Civil War, when Lincoln finally found a General by the name of Ulysses Simpson Grant who would fight and stay focused on pursuit of the enemy.

Command Failure: Lloyd Fredendall and the Battle of Kasserine Pass “Like Maj. Gen. George S. Patton, Maj. Gen. Lloyd Fredendall was “over the hill” – an exception to the cut-off age U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George C. Marshall had for senior commanders. Like Patton, Fredendall was an excellent trainer of men. And, like Patton, Fredendall was a Marshall man of whom great things were expected, with Marshall describing Fredendall as “one of the best.” On Nov. 12, 1942, Lt. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, supreme commander of Operation Torch, for whom Fredendall commanded the Central Task Force landings at Oran, wrote to Marshall, “I bless the day you urged Fredendall upon me and cheerfully acknowledge that my earlier doubts of him were completely unfounded.” But by February 1943 at Tunisia, Fredendall’s reputation was in ruins, described by historian Carlo d’Este as “one of the most inept senior officers to hold a high command during World War II.”

“According to Harmon, Fredendall is a physical and moral coward.” Maj. Gen. George S. Patton Jr., March 2, 1943 diary entry

What went wrong? The short answer is: everything. Historian Steven L. Ossad’s study of Fredendall’s actions in Tunisia included a five-point condemnation:

· Fredendall “failed to understand his mission”

· He “violated several basic principles of command embodied in American doctrine”

· He “ignored the profound benefit that comes from the leader’s appearance of personal bravery”

· He “forgot that self-control is an absolute prerequisite for command”

· Finally, “a commander cannot make fundamental tactical mistakes in the field and expect to survive.”

Fredendall was a Francophobe and an Anglophobe ill-suited to wage coalition warfare; a micromanager who bypassed the chain of command – giving orders as far down as company level; a coward, he allowed animus with subordinates to affect his judgment and undercut their authority; and finally, staring defeat in the face at Kasserine, he tried to pin the blame on others.

The Allied Tunisian campaign in the west got off to a bad start. A fragmented command structure, a poorly equipped French corps, and American inexperience contributed to German ground success in January 1943. Eisenhower had a chance to set things right, and he fumbled

the opportunity. Though he fixed the command situation by having Fredendall and French Gen. Alphonse Juin report to British First Army Lt. Gen. Kenneth Anderson, he did not order a concentration of the scattered armored units of the American 1st Armored Division. Eisenhower suggested they be used to conduct raids in the south. He also failed to take action regarding the poor defensive placement of units even after being told of such concerns by commanders in briefings at 1st Armored Division and Combat Command A headquarters and inspections of the front lines.

Meanwhile, instead of paying attention to what was happening on his front, Fredendall focused on the construction of his headquarters located at least seventy miles (some accounts claim one hundred miles) from the front. A battalion of engineers was blasting a series of tunnels deep in the rock face of a ravine to construct a bombproof headquarters. Called Speedy Valley, troops referred to it as “Lloyd’s very last resort” and “Shangri-la, a million miles from nowhere.” Unlike Eisenhower, Fredendall never visited the front, content to direct deployments based on map readings. His orders, issued over the radio, were a combination of slang and obscure phrases designed to baffle any enemy monitors. Unfortunately, subordinates were equally baffled. The following was a typical example:

“Move your command, i.e., the walking boys, pop guns, Baker’s outfit and the outfit which is the reverse of Baker’s outfit and the big fellows to M, which is due north of where you are now, as soon as possible. Have your boys report to the French gentleman whose name begins with J at a place which begins with D which is five grid squares to the left of M.”

On February 14, three hours after Eisenhower had inspected American positions at Faïd and Maizila passes, German forces, including 140 tanks attacked. In the resulting Battle of Sidi Bou Zid, Patton’s son-in-law, Lt. Col. John Waters, was captured.

Fredendall collapsed, blaming others for the growing disaster. On February 20, Eisenhower ordered Maj. Gen. Ernest Harmon, commander of 2nd Armored Division, to be Fredendall’s deputy corps commander. When Harmon arrived at Speedy Valley, Fredendall handed Harmon a note authorizing him to take charge. Then he went to bed.

Harmon stabilized the front, a situation aided by the fact the Germans were retreating, though he didn’t know it at the time. Upon returning to Eisenhower’s headquarters, he told Eisenhower that Fredendall was “no damn good” and should be relieved. After Harmon rejected the offer of II Corps command, Eisenhower chose Patton.

To keep home front morale high, Fredendall returned to a hero’s welcome and a third star. He spent the rest of the war in stateside training assignments, retiring in 1946.”

Col Howard comment: Short of a preferred Court Martial, Friedendall should have been adversely relieved of command, reduced in rank, and retired from the Army. But WWII US Army Public Relations, political correctness and embarrassment prevented this being done.

DWIGHT JON ZIMMERMAN, a native of Harvey, North Dakota, was born in 1953. He has written extensively on military-history subjects for American Heritage, the Naval Institute Press, Vietnam Magazine, and numerous military-themed publications. His books include The Hammer and the Anvil and The Vietnam War: A Graphic History. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. He published this article February 1, 2013.


Friday, November 8th

13 Hours Benghazi and The Rest of t

Colonel’s Corner – Tate Jolly US Marines, Benghazi 2012

Tate Jolly, Gunnery Sergeant, USMC, Navy Cross Citation

Home of Record: Wilbar, Miller’s Creek, North Carolina

Navy Cross AWARDED FOR ACTIONS DURING: Global War On Terror


The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Gunnery Sergeant Tate Jolly, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as an Assistant Team Leader for a Joint Task Force in direct support of Overseas Contingency Operations on 11 September 2012, at Benghazi, Libya. Gunnery Sergeant Jolly's valorous actions, dedication to duty, and willingness to place himself in harm's way for the protection of others was critical to the success of saving numerous United States civilian lives. Throughout the operation, Gunnery Sergeant Jolly continually exposed himself to fire as he shepherded unarmed civilians to safety and treated the critically wounded. His calm demeanor, professionalism, and courage were an inspiration to all, and contributed directly to the success of the mission. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and complete dedication to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Jolly reflected the highest credit upon himself and the military service. Great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


Friday, November 8th

13 Hours Benghazi and The Rest of t

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Jolly was about 600 miles away from Benghazi in Tripoli -- roughly the same distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C. Since Jolly and Halbruner were some of the only troops in-country, the operation was coordinated not by U.S. Africa Command, but the CIA.

In this photo, a Libyan man walks in the rubble of the damaged U.S. consulate on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi. AP/Mohammad Hannon

Team Tripoli, made up of Jolly, Halbruner and five others, arrived in Benghazi at about 1:30 a.m. That was about four hours after the attack began, and two since Ambassador Christopher J. Stevens had last been seen alive.

The team was led by Glen Doherty, a Global Response Staff (GRS) security officer and former Navy SEAL, who was later killed. He was Team Tripoli's medic.

The plan, according to the person familiar with the mission, was to leave the airport and head to the hospital, where they believed Stevens was being treated. When they found out Stevens had died, the first ambassador to be

killed in the line of duty since 1979, the team headed to the consulate to bolster the diplomatic security personnel and GRS, a group of private military contractors who were fending off the attackers.

"It could've gone really, really bad," said the source familiar with the mission. "It could've become 30 American hostages in North Africa. There were seven shooters going in to protect people who don't shoot for a living."

By the time they arrived, Sean Smith, a State Department foreign service officer, had also died. It was still dark, just after 5 a.m., according to a congressional timeline of the attack. Within minutes, the first mortar hit.

The attacks continued, with one witness estimating there were as many as 100 insurgents spotted surrounding their location in 20- or 30-man groups. It was a skilled enemy, one of the troops there later told members of Congress.

"It's not easy ... to shoot inside the city and get something on the target within two shots -- that's difficult," the witness testified. "I would say they were definitely a trained mortar team or had been trained to do something similar to that.

"I was kind of surprised," the service member added. "... It was unusual."

They were there a matter of hours, but at times witnesses said the team feared they wouldn't make it out alive. It began to "rain down on us," one of them told lawmakers.

''I really believe that this attack was planned," the witness said. "The accuracy with which the mortars hit us was too good for any regular revolutionaries."

In total, six 81-millimeter mortars assaulted the annex within a minute and 13 seconds, a congressional report on the attack states. Doherty and Tyrone Woods, another former SEAL with the GRS, didn't survive.

Dave Ubben, a State Department security agent, and Mark "Oz" Geist, another GRS member, were badly hurt. The men were defending the compound from the rooftop, determined to make it look like they had a lot more firepower than they actually did.

"There was a lot of shooting, a lot of indirect fire and explosions," the source with knowledge of the response said. "It was just guys being really aggressive and doing a good job at making it seem like their element was bigger than it was, like they were less hurt than they were."

Ubben -- who'd testified before a federal court in 2017 that he took shrapnel to his head, nearly lost his leg, and had a grapefruit-sized piece of his arm taken off -- was losing blood fast. Geist also had a serious arm injury that needed immediate attention.

Jolly and Halbruner were determined to save them. Amid the fight, they were tying tourniquets to the men's bodies.

Ubben is alive because Jolly helped move him from the rooftop to a building where diplomatic personnel were hunkered down. Gregory Hicks, who became the acting chief of mission after Stevens died, later described how the gunny did it during a congressional hearing.

"One guy ... full of combat gear climbed up [to the roof], strapped David Ubben, who is a large man, to his back and carried him down the ladder, saved him," Hicks said.

Jolly and Halbruner also went back out to the rooftop to recover the bodies of the fallen.

"They didn't know whether any more mortars were going to come in. The accuracy was terribly precise," Hicks said. "... They climbed up on the roof, and they carried Glen's body and Tyrone's body down."

It was for Jolly's "valorous actions, dedication to duty and willingness to place himself in harm's way" to save numerous unarmed Americans' lives that he earned the Navy Cross, according to his citation.

Bracing for the Worst

That attack was traumatic for many of the civilians trapped inside one of the buildings, according to the person with knowledge of the operation. They'd lost their ambassador and another colleague, and they had no experience being caught in a life-and-death combat situation.

Once Jolly and Halbruner brought the injured men in from off the rooftop, the diplomatic staff helped treat their wounds, according to the source familiar with the situation. It gave them a mission as the onslaught continued outside.

As the sun came up, the remaining team members worried that terrorists would overtake the facility. First believed to be the work of the Benghazi-

based Ansar al-Sharia group, the attack was coordinated by several networks in the region, including al-Qaida affiliates.

Throughout the night, the Americans had the advantage of night vision, the person familiar with the mission said. In the daylight, it could quickly become an even playing field.

Surprisingly though, it got quieter. They gathered inside one of the buildings and formed an evacuation plan to move the diplomatic staff to the airport and eventually out of Benghazi.

"[They had to talk about] things like, 'What happens if they came under attack on the way out? Do you know where to go if you are separated from the group or are being shot at?'" according to the person familiar with the plans.

They prepared for the worst: that as the convoy left the compound, they'd be ambushed, everyone would panic, and the terrorists would take hostages. But they made it to the airport without issue and, by 7:31 a.m., the first plane with survivors took off for Tripoli.

"Who would've thought seven people could go into Benghazi and get more than 25 people out? Especially without traditional military support?" the person familiar with the mission said. "... But you can do a lot if you're determined and have no other choice."

The Defense Department and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later faced a host of criticism over their response to the attack. Critics called it too slow -- a congressional investigation finding that despite President Barack Obama and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta clearly ordering the military to deploy response forces, none were sent until almost eight hours after the attacks began.

A burnt car in front of the U.S. consulate, after an attack in Benghazi, Libya, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Mohammad Hannon)

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey was asked to explain why he hadn't dispatched F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets from Italy. He told lawmakers it would've been "the wrong tool for the job." The Marine Corps, the nation's go-to crisis-response force, has been particularly responsive in the aftermath of the attack. Since there aren't enough amphibious ships to stage Marines everywhere they'd like to be at sea, they've set up land-based crisis-response forces built to respond to emergencies quickly. Those units include up to 2,200 personnel, along with aircraft and logistics capabilities.

Those units are now based in Europe, the Middle East and Central America. Those assigned to Africa and the Middle East have fielded several State Department requests to evacuate embassy personnel or shore up security when intelligence has indicated a high risk for attack.

The Marine Corps and State Department have also bolstered the number of embassy guards placed at diplomatic posts around the world, standing up dozens of new detachments that previously did not have military personnel.

It was a tragedy to see a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans killed in Benghazi but, sadly, it sometimes takes an awful situation to get the attention of those in charge of policy, the person familiar with the response said.

"It was a bad situation, but a lot of priorities changed after this tragedy that would otherwise never have gotten fixed." -- Gina Harkins can be reached at gina.harkins@military.com. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins


Friday, November 8th

13 Hours Benghazi the Rest of the

Colonel’s Corner –

Forward by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret):

Tragically, four Americans died in the 11 September 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Fortunately, another thirty five US Embassy personnel survived this terrorist attack because of the courage of a handful of their countrymen. On that date, in which the enemy wished to celebrate and commemorate the 11 September 2001 attack on the United States, Islamic militants attacked throughout the night the US facility. Killed in the attack were Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two CIA operatives, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs. Stevens was the first U.S. Ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. At first the attack was thought to be an angry mob. But later it was confirmed that it was a planned terrorist attack. Late in the evening of September 11, 2012, about 150 gunmen with beards blocked off the streets leading to the US Consulate buildings. The roadblocks were set up using pickup trucks with the logo of Ansar al-Sharia. The assault began about an hour later. There were seven Americans in the building at the time. Five were armed security officers. The dramatic 13 hours under which these Americans were besieged, was highlighted by the fine film: “13 Hours – The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” which came out in 2016.

Sadly, in the months following the attack, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was responsible for all these Americans, called just ONE of the 35 Benghazi survivors. And Hillary did this only because her main handler and female aide Huma Abedin insisted on this. She had been informed of the attack early on and did nothing. The infamous Clinton cry of: “What difference does it make?” still rings historically in our ears. And this callous disregard of her duty and responsibility undoubtedly contributed to her 2016 election defeat.

The Untold Heroism Behind a Marine's Secret Navy Cross from Benghazi

by Gina Harkins

The Navy Cross

Military.com | By Gina Harkins, 13 May 2019

Minutes after Tate Jolly arrived at the diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, a mortar hit the compound where an ambassador and another American had been killed and dozens more were trapped. The Marine gunnery sergeant was one of only two U.S. troops with a small task force that rushed to respond to what quickly became clear was a coordinated attack on the U.S. State Department facility.

It was a remarkable mission. The closest military backup was hours away, which later led to fierce debate about how U.S. troops should be postured to protect Americans and diplomatic posts overseas.

"There was no one even remotely close to being able to go and get them in North Africa," a source familiar with the operation planning said. "The nearest airplanes were hours away and the nearest ground troops a day away or further."

The source spoke under the condition of anonymity to talk freely about the Sept. 11, 2012, incident, which remains a topic of controversy in Washington seven years later.

The scene was chaotic when the team arrived, and they quickly tried to restore order. There were nearly 30 panicked people who needed to be evacuated quickly, but the compound was under fire from multiple sides.

"Unfortunately, it was not a whole lot of offense; it was a whole lot of just holding guys off as long as they could to try and get out," the person familiar with the mission said.

Jolly, who declined a request for an interview, would ultimately be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism there. The soldier with him, Master Sgt. David Halbruner, received the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. The valor awards are exceeded only by the Medal of Honor.

In this Sept. 14, 2012, photo, Libyan followers of Ansar al-Shariah Brigades burn a U.S. flag, in Benghazi. (AP/Mohammad Hannon)

Little has been known about Jolly’s actions in Benghazi. There was no public ceremony when he received his valor award and, until recently, his name has not been publicly tied to the mission in media reports. His hometown paper in North Carolina, the Wilkes Journal-Patriot, recently reported that the 36-year-old who'd graduated from high school about 90 miles north of Charlotte was the Marine who'd gone above and beyond to save other Americans. Jolly recently retired as a master sergeant.

According to testimony, public documents and the person familiar with his actions, Jolly was calm in the face of deadly chaos. He and Halbruner are credited with saving numerous lives that day.

With a rifle strapped to his back amid an onslaught of mortars and machine-gun fire, Jolly tended to the wounded, at one point throwing a man onto his back and shuffling him down a ladder amid a barrage of enemy fire. He helped some get back into the fight and provided vital care to others with life-threatening injuries.

Here's how then-Gunnery Sgt. Jolly helped get other Americans to safety during a situation that caused a years-long political firestorm thousands of miles away in Washington, D.C.

A Delta Force Marine

Jolly, an infantry assault Marine, was assigned to a Delta Force detachment in Libya at the time of the Benghazi attack. It's rare, though not unheard of, for Marines to join the elite Army special-operations teams. The Marine had deployed to Iraq twice before joining the secretive counterterrorism force, spending about five years carrying out clandestine missions before the Benghazi attack and another five after, according to information about his career obtained by Military.com.

He racked up more than a dozen total deployments with Delta Force.

The Navy Cross Jolly received for his actions in Benghazi was his fourth valor award. He has two Bronze Stars with combat "V" devices -- one of which he earned for undisclosed reasons during his time with Delta Force, and a second from a 2004-2005 deployment to Ramadi, Iraq.

Jolly also earned a Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing device and a Purple Heart for injuries sustained during that deployment.

According to his award citations, Jolly repeatedly braved enemy fire in Ramadi to help take out an enemy sniper who had ambushed a government center.

He received the Navy Commendation Medal for risking his life to destroy roadside bombs when an explosive ordnance disposal team couldn't reach his unit.


Friday, November 1st

Goodnight Chesty Wherever You Are

Colonel’s Corner – Goodnight Chesty Wherever You Are

Note: by Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret). “Goodnight Chesty wherever you are.” This was the last thing we would say each night either in Boot Camp or Officer Candidates School as we lay at attention in our racks. What a great tradition it became! So as the Marine Corps Birthday approaches 10 November and before the sun sets on the last day of October, it is only fitting to remember that October in 1971 when the most decorated US Marine in America’s history took his last breath. It is too bad that our current modern Generals could not be more like him: fearless and honest, not a politician. Oh how we love and miss him. So “Thank You Chesty” for the heritage you left and challenged us with. May we forever remain faithful.

This is the Obituary & Tribute from a Washington DC newspaper:

Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller U.S. Marine Corps

Smith Hempstone in The Evening Star, Washington, D.C.

20 October 1971

“They buried Chesty Puller at high noon on an apple-sweet October day, the notes of taps thin and sad on the crisp Tidewater air. The most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps did not hit his last beachhead alone.

They were all there: Chapman, Walt, Shoup, Greene, Silverthorne, Thomas, more than two dozen generals from a service in which stars come neither quickly nor easily. Pink-

cheeked recruits down from Quantico and turkey-necked old timers, crackers who could remember how Chesty won his first Navy Cross against Sandino in Nicaragua 40 years ago. More than 1,500 Marines and ex-Marines found their way to that remote church-yard in Virginia to pay final homage to a superlative fighting man who in his own lifetime had become a legend.

The wonder of it all is that Lewis Burwell Puller lived either to make general or to die in bed at the age of 73. Haiti, Nicaragua, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Inchon, Yongdonpo, Chosin Reservoir – at any of half a dozen places Puller might have left his bones to whiten with those of so many of the brave men he led. For Chesty led from out front and insisted that his officers do so, which is why his 1st Marines lost 74% of its officers and “only” 60% of its enlisted men in the caves of Peleliu’s Bloody Nose Ridge.

But although Puller bore to his grave the scars of a dozen wounds, the God in whom he reposed such quiet trust denied him the Battlefield death for which, in reality, he was born. Making general was another matter.

For in the Service, as in civilian life, there is a small hello for a man with a salty tongue unafraid to use it on his superiors. Chesty always maintained that “the fat-assed generals” had it in for him and, indeed, he did not win his first star until he had served 33 years, won an unprecedented five Navy Crosses and led his 1st Marines out of “Frozin Chosin,” carrying their dead and wounded, trailed by the shattered remnants of less-favored regiments and better equipped (from materiel abandoned by other units) than when the Korean front collapsed.

Those “fat-assed generals”- or perhaps the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (he always insisted that Marines fought better on whisky than on ice cream) – saw to it that the barrel-chested Puller never commanded anything larger than a regiment in combat. His third star was a “tombstone” promotion (made on the occasion of his retirement because of his 56 decorations for valor) and they turned him down in 1965 when he tried to get recalled to active duty so that he could go to Vietnam. Instead, his son went; young Puller lost both legs and parts of six fingers in a land-mine explosion.

To serve under Chesty was to have a good chance to die. And yet enlisted Marines, who are not given to the adulation of their generals, fought for the chance to follow him and came down out of the mountain hamlets of half a dozen states to bury him last week.

Curious. Or is it? It was much the same with that strange, harsh, God-fearing man, “Stonewall” Jackson, Puller’s fellow-Virginian. Jackson would have a hungry Confederate soldier shot for stealing apples in Maryland and yet his butternut legions cheered him to a man whenever he showed himself. As Lee remarked sadly after Chancellorsville, Jackson’s presence on the battlefield was worth that of two crack regiments. So, it was with Puller.

No soldier ever loved the brilliant Douglas MacArthur. Which leads one to the conclusion that enlisted Marines, with that curious intuition of unschooled men, realized two things: That Chesty Puller was tougher than any of them and that, despite this and almost because of it, he genuinely cared about them. He

might – almost certainly would – lead them into hell, but he would be with them all the way and lead them out the other side, savoring their victories and mourning their deaths, for they were all, no less than his own blood and bone, Chesty’s true sons.

The Services are experiencing a difficult period. Men not fit to shine the boots of Chesty Puller make a mockery of everything for which he stood. You must go into the rural areas to find a post office outside which enlistment posters can stand un-defaced. A boy-man, who has served his country in Vietnam laying his life on the line, has to apologize to hairy stay-at-homes for his deeds.

And yet this, too, will pass. For, ever since the world began there have been meat-eaters and grass-eaters, those who would fight and those who would rather talk. And both in the cities and in the boondocks, in the concrete hell of Spanish Harlem and in the grim coal mines of Harlan County, Kentucky, the Marine recruiters are still finding raw-boned youngsters willing and eager to go through the valley of the shadow for a lantern-jawed, profane, compassionate man like Chesty Puller.

In the end, it matters little whether the rest of us understand or appreciate warriors such as Puller; there is little we can do to add to or detract from what they have been and are. But this nation would not exist without them and all of us comfortably at home today owe each of them an immense debt of gratitude. And when the smoke of that last volley cleared over the grave of Chesty Puller, it would have been a small man who would not have conceded that.”


Thursday, October 31st

America Cant Escape the Middle East

For Middle Eastern governments, the whiplash of U.S. policy has left a sense of bewildered chaos. “American allies and America’s foes are all totally confused about what the U.S. wants in the region. We don’t understand, to be honest with you,” said Iraq’s former national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

On the surface, the arguments for why America should now give less attention to the Middle East, with its violent conflicts and maddeningly complicated alliances, seem compelling. The 1973 oil embargo championed by Arab countries crippled America’s economy, but the energy picture has changed dramatically since then: The fracking revolution has turned the U.S. into the world’s largest oil power, one that can no longer be easily blackmailed with supply cuts. The Middle East is also a relatively small part of today’s global economy and—with the exception of Israel—contributes little to the technological revolution transforming the world.

“The United States is over-invested in the Middle East,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations in London, who worked in the State Department during the Obama administration. “Every day, you see people saying that the U.S. is losing Syria, which may be technically true—but Syria is not worth anything…It serves absolutely no purpose for U.S. foreign policy, and if the Russians and the Turks want to divide Syria, why should the U.S. care about it?”

Debate in the U.S., Mr. Shapiro added, should center on how to properly allocate the country’s scarce resources to the Middle East relative to America’s other areas of interest, such as East Asia. In an age of increasing big-power competition, costly commitments to policing the region have come at the expense of the assets needed to confront a rising China and an expansionist Russia.

Mr. Trump, in a recent tweet, pointed to these two global rivals, which seek to reshape the international order at America’s expense, as he justified his Syria retreat: “The two most unhappy countries at this move are Russia & China, because they love seeing us bogged down, watching over a quagmire, & spending big dollars to do so.”

But there is no avoiding the fact that the Middle East still matters a great deal to U.S. interests. Islamist terror groups with a proven record of bringing devastation to New York, Washington, Paris and London remain a major security concern. In the past, jihadists used havens in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Iraq to plot more ambitious and deadly attacks, including 9/11. Though Islamic State’s self-styled “caliphate” has been dismantled, the extremist movement still hasn’t been eliminated—and can bounce back. U.S. intelligence still relies on Middle Eastern partners such as Jordan for counterterrorism cooperation, information sharing and early warnings. Intelligence officials now worry that the hasty American retreat from Syria and the loss of on-the ground information from formerly U.S.-allied Kurdish forces may leave Washington in the dark about a comeback of hostile radical groups.

The world’s main shipping lines, the bloodstream of the international economy, run through the region, which is why an impoverished country like Yemen, ravaged by a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, remains strategically significant. The Middle East’s proximity to Europe also means that millions more refugees could be on the move if the region spins further into chaos. Nuclear weapons—already possessed by Israel and possibly in the future by Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey—add to the mix of global threats.

Another reason may be even more important, however. In other parts of the world, people and leaders are closely watching the fallout from America’s behavior in the Middle East—and drawing conclusions that will affect the global balance of power.

Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington who served until earlier this year as a deputy minister in the Israeli government, recalls meeting recently with an American military delegation and telling them: “If you think the United States as a global power can pull out of the Middle East and not endanger itself, you are deluding yourselves. When America withdraws from the Middle East unilaterally, the Russians internalize this and move into Crimea and Ukraine; the Chinese internalize it and move into the South China Sea and beyond in the Pacific.” Mr. Oren added, “The Middle East is viewed by the world as a litmus test of American power.”

Events in the region are also widely viewed as a litmus test of the value of American friendship. Russia, for one, is winning the argument that it can be a much more reliable ally. Moscow has

stood with its brutal client, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and helped him to win his country’s civil war. The U.S., by contrast, has discarded a number of allies, such as Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak amid the pro-democracy protests of 2011.

Mr. Trump’s startling decision to abandon the Syrian Kurdish forces, which fought side by side with U.S. troops against Islamic State, has reverberated across the region, held up as yet another example of American treachery. It wasn’t the first time that the U.S. sold out the Kurds: As national security adviser, Henry Kissinger encouraged a Kurdish uprising in Iraq just to stand aside in 1975, when the American-backed shah of Iran reached a deal with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that allowed Iraqi forces to massacre the Kurds.

“No one can ever rely on U.S. promises unless they suffer from amnesia,” said Ertugrul Kurkcu, a leader of the main pro-Kurdish party in Turkey’s parliament, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, which is allied with the Syrian Kurdish leadership. “Yet betrayal is betrayal, and this time it is committed not from behind the veil but openly and crudely, by the most selfish and greedy president of the U.S. This bitter lesson will always be remembered not only by the Kurds but also by the Arabs and the Turks.”

While Russia benefits from such U.S. policies, it can gain only so much in the region. “Syria shows that Russia can become a major political player with a rather small investment,” said Yury Barmin of the Moscow Policy Group, a Russian consulting firm. “But nobody in Russia is ready to make huge investments to replace the United States in the Middle East. We just don’t have this kind of financial resources.”

Whatever their verdict about Mr. Trump’s abrupt pullout from Syria, some experts believe that the country was the wrong theater for proving the value of America’s global commitments to its allies. “Nations judge their interests based on what they see on the table, not projections of credibility based on events thousands of miles away,” said Robert Ford, a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington who served as U.S. ambassador to Syria under Mr. Obama. “If we make American credibility the reason to stay in Syria, we are on a very dangerous slope—the slope that took us to Vietnam in the 1960s, in competition with Russia and China. If lines are to be drawn in the sand, they have to be drawn in places that matter to us.”

The U.S. difficulty in doing that in the Middle East has bred uncertainty among both its friends and its foes there. “The last two decades, it has been very difficult to read what America really

wants to do and how far it wants to go. First it was in a regime-change posture, going into wars without any factual evidence. Then it wants to pivot out and wants to withdraw,” said Mr. Fahmy, the former Egyptian foreign minister. “The problem is that these policies are not just shifting gradually, they are changing day to day. And this creates a political vacuum and instability.”


Thursday, October 31st

America Cant Escape the Middle East

The US has sought to pull back from the region after a series of set-backs and mistakes, but a range of national interests – and the need to maintain global standing – have kept American forces on the ground


Yaroslav Trofimov

Oct. 25, 2019

Ever since the national trauma of the war in Iraq, both winning presidential candidates have run on pledges to extricate the U.S. from costly Middle Eastern entanglements.

Barack Obama promised in 2008 to end the war in Iraq launched by President George W. Bush, and during his 2012 re-election campaign, he touted America’s withdrawal from Iraq as a striking achievement. By the time Donald Trump won the Republican nomination in 2016, Mr. Obama had been forced to send some U.S. troops back to Iraq to prevent a takeover by the newly arisen Islamic State. Still, Mr. Trump campaigned on plans to finally end America’s “endless wars” and to cease nation-building abroad.

“We have done them a great service, and we’ve done a great job for all of them, and now we’re getting out,” Mr. Trump said this week. “Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand.”

Nor is there much appetite for Middle East conflicts among the Democratic front-runners trying to replace Mr. Trump. “I think that we ought to get out of the Middle East,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said at a debate earlier this month.

The past decade has shown, however, that the U.S. can’t wish away the Middle East, no matter how tempting that may be for American voters. The 2003 invasion of Iraq proved to be a

debacle, but subsequent attempts to pivot away from the region or ignore it altogether have contributed to humanitarian catastrophes, terrorist outrages and geopolitical setbacks, further eroding America’s standing in the world. Mr. Trump’s abrupt decision earlier this month to pull out from hitherto relatively calm northern Syria—permitting a Turkish invasion and triggering an exodus by America’s abandoned Kurdish allies and a gleeful Russian takeover of deserted U.S. bases—is the latest such shock. The president’s decision has elicited unusually bipartisan pushback in Congress, alarmed American partners and emboldened Iran—a country that Mr. Trump, despite his often bellicose rhetoric, allowed to get away with being the staging ground for a debilitating attack on Saudi Arabia’s main oil installation in mid-September.

“States, including Arab states, that have depended on America for a long time are suddenly feeling very worried whether this support is really there in very difficult times,” said Nabil Fahmy, who served as Egypt’s foreign minister in 2013-14.

Such worries predate Mr. Trump’s administration. In 2013, Mr. Obama’s unwillingness to enforce his self-declared “red line” on the use of chemical weapons in Syria emboldened the regime of Bashar al-Assad and sowed global doubts about America’s fortitude. The worsening crisis in Syria contributed to the rise of Islamic State and to a refugee crisis that has jolted European politics, fueling the rise of the anti-immigration far right. Before that, in 2011, Mr. Obama’s withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq gave room for Islamic State to regroup and grow, catalyzing radical groups as far away as Nigeria and the Philippines.

“Obama made a professorial, intellectual case for retrenching from the Middle East, and Trump is offering a gut-driven argument for it,” said Emile Hokayem, a Middle East expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “Both have the tendency to understate the immediate and medium-term costs of retrenchment, including the possibility that they will be drawn back in.”

America’s involvement in the greater Middle East dates back to the country’s earliest days—and also began with casting aside an ally. The U.S.’s first overseas war was the 1801-05 campaign against the ruler of Tripoli in today’s Libya, Yusuf Karamanli, who interfered with

American merchant shipping in the Mediterranean and enslaved captured American sailors. That Barbary War, still celebrated in the opening lines of “The Marines’ Hymn” (“To the shores of Tripoli”), sought a 19th-century form of regime change: replacing Karamanli with his exiled older brother Hamid. After initial battles, however, the U.S. changed tack, abandoned Hamid and instead made a deal with Yusuf.

Only after World War II did the U.S. become a dominant power in the Middle East, taking over from the region’s former colonial overlords, Britain and France. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1945 meeting with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz aboard the USS Quincy in Egypt began a relationship in which the U.S. ensured the kingdom’s security in exchange for access to its vast oil reserves. In 1957, in the early days of the Cold War, President Dwight Eisenhower proclaimed the so-called Eisenhower Doctrine that allowed any Middle Eastern nation to ask for American military aid if it feared outside attack. He sent U.S. Marines to Lebanon later that year.

The 1973 war between Israel and its Arab neighbors turned a commitment to the Jewish state’s security into another cornerstone of America’s foreign policy. And in 1980, amid a surge in oil prices and the Iranian hostage crisis, President Jimmy Carter announced his own doctrine, under which the U.S. would repel an “attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region” by “any means necessary, including military force.”

Still, not until Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 did the U.S. permanently deploy tens of thousands of troops to the region. Their presence in ultraconservative Saudi Arabia, in particular, became a rallying cry for the Islamist extremists who coalesced around Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

Following al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and, in 2003, Iraq—two post-9/11 wars that have cost trillions of dollars and killed some 7,000 U.S. service members so far. Thousands of American troops remain in both countries today.

Meanwhile, Washington went from striking a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 under Mr. Obama to abrogating that pact under Mr. Trump and seeming to push for regime change in Tehran—then to once again trying to engage the Iranian regime diplomatically in recent months. And

Mr. Trump, despite his recent decision to remove all U.S. forces from northern Syria, is now considering options for leaving about 500 troops there and sending dozens of battle tanks to retain control of oil fields.

(To continue, please proceed to Part 2)


Monday, October 14th

Orde Wingate and Special Night Squa

He was amazingly successful. He became something of a legend among the Jews of Palestine and the Arabs put a price on his head. Wavell gave Wingate the approval - to the shock and disbelief of the British military men - for Wingate to start a school for training "Jewish settlers in the art of making guerrilla war." This was based at Ein Harod, where Wingate, in the shadow of Gideon, felt so at home. There was jubilation all over Jewish Palestine. Men appeared from the settlements all over the country to volunteer. They took part in continuous operations. The biggest one fought by Wingate's Special Night Squads was at Dakumiyah, on the slopes of Mount Tabor near the Sea of Galilee where one of the most problematic gangs was located. The Arabs were well-entrenched in their positions and armed well. The battle started at 1 p.m., but Wingate called it off and waited for dusk. By 3 a.m. it was all over. The Arab gangs were decisively defeated. Wingate, however, was wounded and nearly died from his wounds. His Jewish comrades brought him to the hospital.

Even the grudging British Police couldn't deny what a victory it was. It removed one of the most dangerous gangs of thieves from the area. But while he received a promotion for the operation, it was the beginning of the end for Wingate in Palestine. He had simply been too successful in his work. The Jews were becoming a fighting force. And Wingate showed his happiness at this fact at every opportunity. Turning Jews into formidable fighters was not really in British interests. Meanwhile General Wavell had been replaced by General Haining, "a pharaoh who knew not Joseph." At first Haining thought the Night Squads was a good idea, but he soon changed his mind, forbade Wingate to return to Ein Harod, and disbanded the Night Squads.

Wingate was forlorn, aggrieved. He tried to get Haining to change his mind, or at least to have a meeting with him about the issue, but to no avail. Wingate was mocked by the other pro-Arab British officers. His gloom was inconsolable. He looked pale and sickly. Still, he did what he could to help the Zionists. In 1939 the British issued the White Paper, which seriously restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and offered no hope for an independent Jewish state. Coming on the eve of World War II and the Holocaust this was tragic from a Jewish point of view. Millions of lives could have been saved if not for the British policy embodied in this document. Wingate was furious. He said it was time to declare war on the British, and offered to lead the Jews in their offensive operations - starting with the Haifa oil refinery. None of the Palestinian Jews were willing to listen to him at the time. The Haganah was especially adamant about not damaging fragile Jewish-British relations at a most sensitive time. Five years later, however, the Irgun did revolt against British rule in Palestine, just as Wingate had advocated.

It was late 1939. Wingate was posted home, to England. Before he left, he returned to his beloved Mount Tabor, overlooking Ein Harod. He told the unit and Haganah leaders, in Hebrew, "I am sent away from you and the country I love. I suppose you know why. I am transferred because we are too great friends. They want to hurt me and you. But I promise you I shall come back." In the event he never set foot in Palestine again. Orde Wingate experienced both great triumphs and the depths of despair thereafter. He became famed as a warrior in East Africa and as a general in Burma, often having his Jewish assistant, Akavia, accompany him as his second-in-command. He had dreams of leading a Jewish Army to independence once World War II was over, but he never got the chance. He was killed over Burma in 1944.

Orde Wingate was an exceptional man, and a gift to the Jewish people in his time. He was always champing at the bit, ready to move ahead with plans which had not yet come to fruition in other men's minds. He was ready to take wild chances - something that scared his military superiors, and often earned him rebuke or even encouraged others to view him as unprofessional. But he was invariably successful. In this respect he is like the American General Douglas MacArthur or the Israeli General Ariel Sharon - both of whom had more than their share of detractors in their respective countries for their unorthodox methods and no-holds-barred style of battle. Wingate, MacArthur, and Sharon were highly successful military men, but were viewed with suspicion for much of their careers. But the military also needs men like this, which is why, as close as they had sometimes seemed to losing any hope for advancement in their respective military (and in Sharon's case, political as well) careers, circumstances seemed to change for the better and they were given another chance.

Orde Wingate initiated a transition period in the concept of Jewish self-defense in Palestine. We have seen how the Jewish worker was the ideal of the Second and Third Aliyot. Ha-Shomer, the Jewish Guardsmen organization, had been established in 1907 and lasted until World War I as an organization solely dedicated to Jewish self-defense. Joseph Trumpeldor's heroic stand at Tel-Hai in 1920 was the first full-scale battle in the history of the yishuv between Jews and Arabs - and once again it was a defensive battle. Until Wingate arrived in Palestine, the Jewish attitude towards Arab marauders and Arab terror was one of self-defense only. The establishment of the Special Night squads in 1936 marked a change in this attitude from a purely defensive to a more offensive ethos. After Wingate the night, which had previously belonged to the Arabs alone, no longer did so. And even though he never came back to serve the people he loved and help establish the state he so longed to see, his training and example left an indelible imprint on the emerging standards of the fledgling Israeli Army. A major part of the reason why the state of Israel was able to withstand its enemies in 1948, and thus see the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel after more than 1800 years, was due to the unparalleled and heroic efforts of Orde Wingate and his group of Jewish fighters comprising the Night Squads.

For Wingate, the pioneers represented the re-emergence of the Hebrew warrior of old in modern guise, and he was their inspired Gideon. As the acknowledged military leader of the Jewish people in a crucial period in the history of the yishuv, Wingate enabled the young pioneers-turned-fighters to stand on their own two feet, as men, and turn the tide of history. The state of Israel owed no small thanks to the man universally known as "Hayedid" - the Friend. Indeed, The Jewish people could have asked for no better friend than Orde Wingate, who appeared and disappeared like a whirlwind in the lives of the Palestinian Jews, but forever left his mark on the people he loved and on the development of the state he so longed to see.

Final Note by Col Mike Howard, USMC, an ardent admirer of Wingate:

In his own 1937 writings, Orde Wingate sensed the impending WWII catastrophe.

“For pity’s sake, let us do something just and honorable before it comes. Let us redeem our promises to Jewry and shame the devil of Nazism and our own prejudices.”


Tuesday, October 15th

Orde Wingate and Special Night Squa

Wingate went to the Haganah Commander whom he had met his first day in Palestine, Wilenski, and requested men to accompany him on "investigative" missions into Arab territory. At first he was refused, but he persisted, and soon after the Haganah granted him the men.

He first went to the settlement of Hanita, which had been the object of a number of Arab attacks. Moshe Dayan was stationed there by the Haganah at the time, as was the above-mentioned Zvi Brenna. They were ready to take the offensive to the Arab villages themselves, across the border or not, legal or not. When some of the Jews protested that entering Arab villages could lead to their arrest, Wingate told them to "leave these little formalities to me." He was, after all, a British officer, even if he identified heart and soul with the Zionist endeavor.

The first expedition took place in early 1938. The Haganah members hoped an Arab informant would lead them to an Arab village they suspected of harboring Arab attackers about 20 miles away, as they weren't sure they could find their way back at night by themselves.

When Wingate was told about the plan he was astounded. He had the Arab brought before him and, after questioning him in Arabic, realized that he was preparing to lead the unsuspecting Jews into a trap.

"This man is planning to lead you to your deaths,' he shouted, swinging around on the watching Jews. 'Now let us stop all this nonsense. It is about time a soldier took charge of you.You wish to go on a raid against the Arabs to-night. All right. You shall go. But this wretch will not lead you. I will take you there."

They set out at dusk. It was the first Jewish offensive. They headed into Lebanon, and then doubled back. By three o'clock in the morning, after 30 miles of silently walking, Wingate brought them to the village.

He went ahead alone. When they heard a shot, they moved into their pre-arranged positions. There were more shots, and then a hail of gunfire, and the Arabs came out - straight into the trap Wingate had laid for them. Dayan and Brenna held their fire until the Arabs were completely surrounded. Those they didn't kill they took prisoner, and found out where they had hid their arms which they had used to sabotage British military installations and Jewish settlements.

The Jews and Wingate took the rifles and headed back, just as careful as when they had come. The slightest sound could alarm unseen Arab patrols, and Wingate could be rather unforgiving to men who accidentally cracked a stick or unloosed a stone and sent it scattering down a hillside. But that was nothing compared to the ruthlessness with which he would use to deal with Arabs who harbored information regarding terrorist weapons, hideouts, plans, or intentions.

The British weren't at all pleased when they heard about this raid. Wingate hadn't told them, he hadn't consulted them, and more than that, he had taken Jews on an offensive raid - that was far more than just defending themselves within their own settlements. Wavell recalled him to Jerusalem. Things didn't look good. "Hayedid (the friend) is in trouble with the British over the raid." one secret Haganah message relayed. "From that moment on, every Jew in the (Jewish) Agency and the secret army was prepared to trust him with their secrets and their lives."

As it happened, Wingate was let off with a mere rebuke. But more than that, he managed to convince Wavell that he could do much more to wipe out the Arab gangs causing such damage to the pipeline bringing oil from Iraq to the port of Haifa. Wavell gave him the permission to continue operating in northern Palestine - to the chagrin of many other British officers. Wingate was actually supposed to be an intelligence officer based in Nazareth - but he rarely went there. Conceivably, too, the British military thought he was protecting the pipeline from sabotage. He was actually leading reprisal and deterrence raids of Jewish soldiers against Arab gangs.

Wingate spent much of his time at Ein Harod - the site of the first kibbutz established in 1923 and Gideon's burial place - a place where he felt at home. Gideon, it will be recalled from the Bible, was one of the great commanders of the Jews in ancient times. Like Gideon, Wingate was a stern selector of his men. But he provoked love and respect in his soldiers, and indeed in all of the yishuv. The best fighters of the Palestinian settlements were sent to train with Wingate at Ein Harod. Indeed, he had a magnetic hold over the Jews. Rarely in their lives had they ever seen such complete devotion to their cause.

Wingate, meanwhile, had recruited, with General Wavell's approval, a number of British soldiers to serve with him as well. These he mixed in with the Jews so that Jews and British were serving together under Wingate's command.

As his techniques for outsmarting the Arabs developed, Wingate taught his men to leap off of military jeeps while other soldiers continued driving - watched silently by Arabs, of course - and then to hide in a ditch until the convoy had passed. Meanwhile, the Arabs would be plotting the course of the convoy and would have no idea that their enemy was in the vicinity.

Wingate was uncanny not only in his sense of direction and ability to gauge distances, but he also knew just where to go after an Arab raid occurred. He would go into a village, fire a shot, and if there was no response, move on to the next one. When there was a shot back he would immediately deploy his men and tell them exactly where the Arabs would go and what they would do. In the words of Moshe Dayan, "He was never wrong." Dayan continued, "I never knew him to lose an engagement. He was never worried about odds. If we were twenty, and the Arabs were two hundred, or if we were at the bottom of a hill and they were at the top, he would say: 'All right, there is a way to beat them. There is some way in which, with a decisive stroke, we can turn the situation in our favour.' There were many who served with him from Ein Harod who later became officers in the Israeli Army which fought and defeated the Arabs, but they were not the only ones who benefited from his training. In some sense, every leader of the Israeli Army even today (this was written in 1955 - D.G.) is a disciple of Wingate. He gave us our technique, he was the inspiration of our tactics, he was our dynamic (italicize)." He was ruthless with Arab perpetrators but not brutal with those uninvolved in raids and attacks. Before he set out on one operation he told his men; "We are not making war on the Arab nation but on the Arab gangs, and towards the ordinary Arabs we will abstain from cruelty and barbarity. A course and savage man makes a bad soldier, and you will behave with respect towards the bodies of the wives, children and innocent individuals. But you will not let a single culprit escape."


Wednesday, October 16th

Orde Wingate and Special night Squa

Merely by being in the land of Israel Orde Wingate was living a dream, a feeling similar to that of many Second aliyah pioneers. He however, was not one who romanticized labor and tended to avoid the notion that conflict with the Arabs might be in the offing, as many Jewish laborers in Palestine did. He saw right from the beginning that Jews would need to fight, and not merely defend themselves. He knew what the Jews were fighting for, and he understood their dreams because he shared them. He loved the Land of Israel. "The Holy places were all within his reach. He had only to look around and see the hills and villages and wells upon which his mind had been suckled, which were far more real to him than the places he knew in England." He climbed the Hermon in the Golan. He went to Mount Tabor, near modern-day Afula, where he talked with the monks inhabiting the monastery on top. He looked across the hills and valleys, all familiar to him and bursting with history and spiritual meaning. "For Orde Wingate it was a dream of childhood come true. His Biblical training made it feel much more like a return to a home he had always known than an arrival in a strange land. To stand on the places where the Old Testament prophets had lived, taught, fought and died was as sweet-smelling to him as the annointment oils of a newly proclaimed king. He tramped across the hills. He sang aloud the appropriate words from the Bible of the prophets who had marched this way before him. He was ravished by the revelation of the beauty and the radiance of the Holy Land." He loved to sit on Mount Tabor and sing Psalms in his rapidly improving Hebrew. As his love for the land and for the Jewish people grew in his heart, he knew that he would fight to regain this land for the Jews not only against the Arabs, but even, if necessary, against the country he served.

The year 1936, when Wingate arrived, marked the beginning of the Arab rebellion against both British rule and Jewish settlement in Palestine. The British responded by sending army units after the rebels, with some success. Jewish communities were not always so lucky. As we have seen, British military officers were frequently biased towards the Arab side. When confrontations erupted into hostilities between the Arabs and the Jews, the British frequently confiscated the arms and arrested the Jews - and more often than not, the Arabs got off the hook. Even if attacked and loss of life was incurred, if Jews fought back their weapons were frequently taken from them.

Part of the problem was that the Jews had a static defense in their settlements while the roaming Arab gangs were mobile, and the Arab perpetrators of attacks frequently could not be found. The Haganah, the Jewish Defense Organization, had been founded in 1920, but it had done little until the outbreak of the riots in 1936. Even then, they were still committed to a policy of "havlaga" - self-restraint, which led many later to leave and join the more radical Irgun or Stern Gang, both of whom advocated a harsher response to Arab terror.

Wingate was no less disappointed with the British Army's response to Arab rebellion and terror than with the Jewish concept of static defense. The Arabs roamed in from Syria or Jordan, hid in the hills and caves, and used hit-and-run tactics in order to escape to safety. The British Army by contrast, used the roads to chase the perpetrators. Even the British Air Force, when called in, wasn't effective in seeking out the Arab gangs when the Arabs already had a well-planned out escape route or hiding place. The Arabs knew the land well, and the night was theirs alone. Jews set up many stockade and watchtower settlements at night during the Arab riots and afterwards, and they settled in to wait for the Arabs. But they were in fear, and the Arabs were not. The Arabs, if they chose not to attack a British military convoy or a Jewish settlement, would be left alone. The Jews could never say the same about themselves. By 1936, neither could the British. This is where Wingate came in.

Wingate was a man of exceptional direction-finding skills and an uncanny ability to gauge distances, terrain, and the movements of others. He had already proven that in the Sudan. He brought this experience to bear in Palestine. He continued to talk to the Jewish leaders, but they were slow in completely trusting him. He was, after all, a non-Jewish British officer. At this point, the usual British serviceman's semi-disguised antipathy to the Jewish settlers was in some cases even being replaced by open hostility. The Jews were not in a particularly cheerful mood, seeing the British unable to contain the security situation, and at the same time focusing their resentment on the Jews. The Haganah leadership was "not particularly enamored of Wingate when he called them faint-hearted for their doubts and urged them to take the offensive against the Arabs themselves." He was still not completely trusted, even after Moshe Shertok (later Sharrett, then Secretary of the Jewish Agency and Prime Minister from 1953-1955) had said he was completely trustworthy, as did the Commander-in Chief of the Haganah. But Jews in the northern settlements, where Wingate spent much of his time, were still wary of him for a considerable period of time after he arrived in Palestine. It was difficult for them to get used to the idea that a British officer really was on their side and was prepared to dedicate all of his formidable talents and energies to their protection and their cause. But Wingate was certainly for real, as the Jewish settlers were to find out soon enough. Wingate was obsessed with Zionism; his biographer wrote that ever since his arrival in Palestine, he had "plunged into Zionism and Zionist intrigue with all the joy of a grown-up sinner at last brought to baptism." He infuriated his fellow British officers with his pro-Zionist proclivities and inclinations. Nothing ticked them off more than when he answered the telephone with "'Shalom, Wingate here'" - as Robert Mosley writes - "in Jewish fashion."

The irrepressible Wingate tried his luck with taking more offensive operations against Arab infiltrators with General Wavell, Commander of British Forces in Palestine. Wingate's plan was tentatively approved, and when he wasn't careening at a mad pace with his jeep around Palestine, Wingate thought of how he would put it into action. He first looked for infiltrators crossing the Jordan, and found none. Soon after, he tried to convince members of Kibbutz Afikim, near the Jordan river, to come on offensive operations against the Arabs with him. As impressed as he was by their guarding of the settlement, he was enraged by their failure to take more initiative. His exasperation is evident in this conversation with Zvi Brenna, member of the Hanita settlement who became actively involved in Jewish defense and Wingate's Night Squads.

"Somewhere in those hills are men who will one day come down and wipe you out. Brenna replied: 'They will not overrun us so easily. We will be waiting for them when they come. Wingate turned angrily upon him. That is the trouble with the Jews. Always so calm and patient. Always waiting for disaster to come. You are a race of masochists crying: Hurt me, hurt me! I cannot raise my hand against you until you have killed my brother and raped my sister and thrown my father and mother into the ditch. The Jews of Palestine are in bad condition. So long as you all sit in your settlements and wait to fight and die, you will die before you have a chance to fight. What else can we do? asked Brenna. Why doesn't Hagana go out and fight? I don't know, replied Brenna."


Thursday, October 17th

Orde Wingate and the Development of

Forward by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret):

This is the finest article and my favorite on Orde Charles Wingate (1903-1944), the amazing British Army officer who was a true Friend of Israel. The Bible says that “A prophet is honored everywhere but in his own country.” John 4:44. There are memorials to Wingate all over Israel … streets, avenues, public places & schools, even a museum at Kibbutz Ein Harod where his Bible and photographs of him are on display in the Galilee. This is at the foot of Mount Gilboa where the ancient judge Gideon operated, and Wingate later made his HQ during the Great Arab Revolt of 1936-1939. Sadly, there is little to remember him by in Britain, but a small plaque in London. General Orde Wingate is buried and honored at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC, along with the US Army B-25 bomber crew with whom he was killed in a crash while fighting the Japanese in WWII. Each year, the Israeli Embassy visits his grave in thanks, for Wingate had a tremendous influence on the Israel Defense Force. He was a committed Christian Zionist. It was through his courage and tenacity in forming, training and leading the Special Night Squads in combat during the late 1930s, that instilled the Haganah and future members of the Palmach with the spirit of the offense. To strike and strike hard with penetration was what Wingate instilled at the tactical & operational level. Future Israeli generals like Moshe Dayan remembered and passed on the lessons Wingate taught them. They and the entire Jewish population greatly respected and honored him with the Hebrew name of affection “Hayedid”, The Friend.

“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17

“One of the most brilliant and courageous figures of WWII, he was a man of genius who might well have become a man of destiny.” Winston Churchill

“He taught us all we know.” General Moshe Dayan, IDF

For over two centuries the British Imperial experiment produced a host of fascinating and exciting characters. One of the most noted to capture the collective international imagination was Lawrence of Arabia, who in a much embellished account described how he and his Bedouin soldiers freed the Middle East from Ottoman tyranny. Philby of Arabia was a British soldier who converted to Islam, went to live in Saudi Arabia, and became a close friend and confidante of the king in the first half of this century. The Middle East, India, and Africa held a special appeal to the ordinary Englishman, and especially to the more intrepid and spirited explorer among them. The desert and the exotic ways of the Middle Eastern Bedouin particularly exerted a powerful allure to many young English schoolboys in the early years of this century, and among them was a young man who later rose to great prominence in the British Army. He came to be known as a brilliant military thinker and strategist, an intrepid soldier, an unconventional personality to the extreme, and perhaps the firmest friend the Jewish settlers in Palestine ever had. His name was Orde Wingate.

Orde Wingate was born into a Protestant English family in 1903 which raised him on the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament. His parents were strict disciplinarians, a trait which later came to characterize Orde himself. They made him memorize passages of the Bible by heart as well as take long and exhausting walks across the countryside from a very early age. He later was to instill this same sense of discipline into the soldiers under his command.

There were many Christian English Zionists in the 19th and early 20th centuries. But little Orde was not one of them at first. Inspired as he was by his love for the Bible, it was the Bedouin and T.E. Lawrence's romantic tales of life among them that sparked his imagination. He seemed to have transferred his fascination for the people of the Old Testament onto the Arabs, who undoubtedly reminded one more of the Biblical patriarchs with their clothing, staffs, and flocks of sheep than European Jews did. At about the age of 20 Orde Wingate had served in the British Army already as a gunner, and while serving, enrolled in the School of Oriental Studies and began to learn Arabic. He had already developed a reputation as a somewhat ornery character among both fellow officers and classmates. He always insisted on doing things his own way. Characteristically, as a student, he took a month's leave and lived among Arab seamen in the East End of London. He learned their language and what perhaps he thought were the habits and customs of Arabs but more likely were those of exhausted seamen; he did not bathe or shave for the month of his absence from school. His schoolmates from the army took one look at him and scrubbed him clean upon his return.

In 1928 Wingate was appointed to the Sudan. He passed through Egypt on the way and was not impressed by the people, although he enjoyed visiting the museums and managed to climb the Pyramids. In the Sudan he developed his system of cross-border campaigning, which he later used in Palestine and elsewhere and made him world-famous. Looking for adventure, he applied to - and received from - the royal Geographical Society a grant to search for a lost civilization in the Libyan Desert. He found nothing, but the experience alone in the desert moved him deeply. He was still crystallizing ideas for the future in his mind, conscious of how much he felt he had to accomplish. By his 30th year he still felt as if he had achieved very little, but sensed that greatness was in store for him.

It was at this time, in the mid 1930's that Orde Wingate met and fell in love with a sixteen year old girl whom he was to marry two years later. She accompanied him to Palestine when he was posted there as an intelligence officer in September 1936. At first he thought of it as a normal Middle Eastern posting, but on the trip over he began to read about the Zionist enterprise. Although he had been pro-Arab for years, his earlier love for the Bible and the Jews blossomed in him anew as he approached the shores of Palestine. As he was to say; "Long before I reached Palestine I knew what the Jews were seeking, understood what they needed, sympathized with their aims, and knew they were right." His first evening in the land of Israel seemed to allow his blazing intensity to take hold of him, focus, and envelop his very being. That first evening, after settling in at Haifa, he went up to Mount Carmel - with its beautiful view of the Haifa Bay area - and met the Chief Intelligence Officer of the Underground Jewish Defense Force, the Haganah. His name was Emmanuel Wilenski.

Wilenski was unaware, at first, that Wingate knew who he was. Wingate, as was his wont, peered closely into his eyes, and asked Wilenski, "Do you believe in a Zionist State, in an independent state of Israel?'

"I am not afraid of answering that. Yes. I do.' Wingate clambered to his feet. 'Aha! You do? But do you know what it means? Do you realize that you will have to fight for your independence?' Wilenski replied.'I think, Captain Wingate, that we do.' 'But fight! I mean fight! A bloody struggle!' shouted Wingate. 'There will be no free Palestine for the Jews unless you fight and win.' He went up to Wilenski and prodded him in the chest. By this time his eyes were blazing. 'And you will not win, my friend, unless I teach you how to fight and I lead you into battle.'"

The Jewish Intelligence Officer didn't know what to make of this man. Here was a British Intelligence Officer, in complete contradistinction to British Imperial policy at the time, telling him that he would lead the Jews to an independent state. British policy, by 1936, was certainly against an independent Jewish state, and in fact had consistently frustrated attempts to expand Jewish immigration into Palestine. This policy was to become more pronounced with the passing years, and as World War loomed on the horizon, the British limited Jewish immigration into Palestine to a mere trickle. By 1936 (but actually since the inception of the Mandate) few British officers were trusted by the Jews. Most British soldiers were overtly pro-Arab. Few Jews in Palestine knew, in September 1936, what a treasure-trove they had in the person of Orde Wingate, a faithful friend who would do anything to pave the way to an independent Jewish state.


Monday, October 7th

Remembering the Yom Kippur War

Remembering the Yom Kippur War

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Today is the 46th anniversary of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It was a desperate war experience for Israel being again outnumbered on all fronts by her Arab enemies bent on destroying her.

I remember it well. I was a freshman History and Religion major studying at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. We had several dozen of our fellow students on a Middle East term in Jerusalem, Israel, and I was applying for the same program the following year, 1974. These events were riveting to me. And I now fully realize just how close this war was for Israel. It also very much involved both the United States (supporting her ally Israel) and the Soviet Union (which backed the Arabs).

When we got the news over our college radio station, it was not good. It was reported that large numbers of Syrian tanks and infantry were overwhelming Israeli defenses on the Golan Heights, while equally large numbers of Egyptian forces were pushing across the Suez Canal and eliminating the Israeli Bar Lev line, behind which Israel was struggling to hold the Sinai Peninsula.

A fellow St. Olaf student, who had a girlfriend in Israel on the same program mentioned, stood with me inside the radio station listening to the Associated Press and British Broadcast Corporations reports. There was also a teletype machine printing out news releases on a long thin strand of paper. Events looked desperate for Israel. New anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles from the Soviet Union had been recently supplied to the Arabs and these were inflicting heavy losses against counter-attacking Israeli aircraft and tanks. I remember praying for Israel: “Please God, help them. Help this small outnumbered nation avoid being pushed into the sea and destroyed.”

I had followed events of the Six Day War in 1967 and so was somewhat familiar with the specifics of Israel and Middle East geography. Whereas Israel knew it was about to be attacked in 1967, it had launched a pre-emptive strike catching Arab forces largely off-guard. But the Yom Kippur War of 1973 was different. Israel had, due to foreign international and UN pressure, decided to absorb the first enemy blow. This almost proved fatal as much of the Golan Heights was over-run by Syrian armor divisions, threatening the Galilee, and in the Sinai, most of the Bar Lev Line was also over-run as Egyptian forces poured into the Sinai. It took days for Israel to mobilize its reserves and move them forward to aid their understrength front line regulars on both fronts.

Due to courage and tenacity, and despite superior enemy numbers, the Israel Defense Forces were eventually able to push back the Syrians on the Golan and advance on Damascus, the Syrian capital. In the Sinai, the IDF was also able to implement innovative tactics in bypassing Egyptian units on the Suez Canal and turn the flank of the Egyptian line by crossing the Suez Canal with an innovative amphibious bridge. Israeli armor formations were then able to surround the Egyptian Army on the Suez Canal and advance westward threatening Cairo. There is a saying in Israel that when the Arabs are winning a war, the United Nations remains silent because of its inherent anti-Israel bias. In fact, Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, had previously referred to the UN as the Uum-Shmum, which in Hebrew means “The Big Nothing”). The Jewish people could not count on the UN because of its rampant Anti-Semitism, but they could count on America. Under the positive leadership of President Richard Nixon and his pro-active Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a huge American logistic effort was launched in re-supplying Israel from half-way around the world. This material support in the form of weapons, ammunition, aircraft and armor, together with strong diplomatic support, proved a significant encouragement to Israel and her embattled forces. America stood with Israel. And after weeks or deadly fighting, Israel forced the Arabs to sue for peace. True to form, the UN had become active and vocal only when Israel was winning and threatening to occupy an ever increasing amount of Syrian and Egyptian territories.

In August of 1974, I arrived in Israel to participate in the St. Olaf Middle East program. We had spent time listening to the experience and stories of our previous classmates who had been there during the Yom Kippur War. To me it was the privilege of a lifetime to be living and studying in Israel, the heart of the Holy Land. During our semester and interim, I based my Independent Study on the Israel Defense Force and her remarkable history. As a US Marine, I was fascinated and impressed with what I learned, together with my classes on Judaism, Islam, the Origins of Christianity, and the history of Israel and the Middle East. The cultural and language opportunities gave these all tremendous depth and a very personal perspective. The icing on the cake were the relationships I made with Israelis and others. All these experiences had a significant impact on my future, as my USMC records reflected this and I was able to apply it to my further travels to Israel and the Middle East, in both times of peace and war. I later chose to honeymoon in Israel with my bride, Lynn, and to be a sponsor to an Israeli combat engineer (Handassah Kravit) officer who was a guest of our 1st Combat Engineer Battalion of 1st Marine Division. We became lifelong friends, and he greatly assisted us in acquiring badly needed assault breaching equipment for the Iraq War.

One of the singular, life-changing aspects of my first time in Israel was the challenge by one of my roommates to purchase and read a Bible. Yes, this changed my life with a personal decision for faith in the Gospel (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) and firm conviction that God is indeed the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and that He is taking History where He wants it to go. And Israel is unquestionably the epicenter of the world revealing these truths … and that the epicenter of Israel is Jerusalem, and that this unique, wonderful city’s epicenter is the ancient Temple Mount. Yes, this is why it was so important to the Jewish people to re-unite Jerusalem in the Six Day War, and regain access to the Western Wall of the ancient Temple Mount, to which the Messiah of Israel and the world will return.

And so I remember the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and give thanks this day for the many sacrifices made by Israel. As is proclaimed from the first book of the Bible, Genesis (vs: 12:1-3) to the last, Revelation (vs: 5:5), she is a light to the rest of the world: “… those who bless her will be blessed and those who curse her will be cursed. And it is through her that all nations will be blessed.” And “… the lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered.”

Yes, today is a crucial point in history, just like it was on that Yom Kippur of 1973. Our world is changing and convulsing at lightning speed. Our lives and the lives of those around us often appear to balance perilously between prosperity and disaster. We are faced with serious threats to our very existence from both external and internal challenges. Many respond to this hostile environment of today with insecurity, trepidation, and fear. Sadly, others are oblivious to all this and go about their daily routine and existence in denial. In both cases, human self-reliance abounds.

There is a powerful phrase among a beautiful passage in the Bible. It is from I Samuel 17:47 when David the shepherd goes forth to confront the giant Goliath. It is this: “… the battle belongs to the Lord.” This helped get me through two combat tours in Iraq. Later when I returned to Israel and was able to thank those who had helped America with the provision of IDF D-9 Armored Dozers, I shared this line with my old friend Gen. Eitan Lidor. He smiled at me and added something that only a Jew could tack on to this verse with a Rabbinical overtone; “Yes Mike, the battle may belong to the Lord, but remember that He often sub-contacts!”


Wednesday, September 4th

Tulip Four - Tzivony Arba: The Soli

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Based on the outstanding first-hand account of Israeli Ace Giora Romm, this unique story covers the shooting down, crash, captivity and comeback of an amazing fighter pilot. As Pat Conroy, author of The Great Santini says: “Fighter pilots tell the greatest stories and the great ones tell the best stories of all.” And Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of Gates of Fire and The Lion’s Gate shares, Giora Romm’s masterpiece Solitary (originally Tulip Four in Hebrew), is “… among the finest war writing ever … it sits alongside the most profound reflections on the resilience and capacity of the human soul.”

Our family recently hosted an Israeli family for a week of their exploring America’s beautiful Pacific Northwest. I had met Col. David Noy IAF (Ret) right after I returned from my final Iraq War combat tour in 2006. We were in Virginia at a US military arms exposition and were both representing MIFRAM, an Israeli security company who had supplied outstanding defensive barriers to us in Iraq. As a thank you gift, David sent me a book in English written by one of his former commanders. It was the story of survival by Giora Romm. I found it a riveting read from the moment I sat down and started it.

Having lived a fascinating life, Giora Romm is a former deputy commander of the Israeli Air Force (IAF), Israel's former military attaché to the United States, and the current director of Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority. He holds the unique distinction of being the Israeli Air Force's first jet ace, having scored five enemy kills during the 1967 Six Day War. In 1969, during the War of Attrition, Romm was shot down and spent several months in Egyptian captivity. This was a tough ordeal on which he centers his book Solitary (originally called Tulip Four which was his Hebrew call sign). Romm later commanded the IAF's 115 Squadron, which consisted of A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft, through the intensive fighting of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. This war was an extreme challenge for Israel and her IAF, as many aircraft and faithful pilots were lost. Most of these due to advanced Russian surface to air missiles (SAMs) supplied to Egypt and Syria by the Soviet Union. Romm later participated in Operation Wooden Leg, the bold Israeli 1985 aerial raid across the Mediterranean Sea against PLO headquarters in Tunisia.

Giora Romm was born in Tel Aviv in 1945, before Israel even became a nation. His family were dedicated Jewish patriots and ardent Zionists. He enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces in 1962 and was later selected to attend Israeli Air Force flight course 43. Initially flying the French built Dassault Ouragan and Mystère, Romm later advanced to the Dassault Mirage III which he flew with the 119 "Bat" Squadron, out of the Tel Nof Airbase, Israel. The French Mirage was the elite sports car of fighters.

Romm was 22 at the outbreak of the Six-Day War and in the intense span of three days became the IAF's first jet ace, shooting down five enemy aircraft. He had been held back initially on quick reaction alert. When Israeli Mysteres attacking the air base at Abu Suwayr encountered Egyptian Air Force MiG-21s, Romm and fellow pilot Eitan Karmi were scrambled to the scene. In the ensuing dogfight, each pilot shot down a pair of MiG-21s. Later that same afternoon, Romm was part of a 119 squadron formation that struck the T-4 Syrian Air Force base. Two MiG-21s attempting to defend the base were shot down, one by Romm and the other by Asher Snir.

On June 6, 1967 Romm's Mirage aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire while leading a strike against Syrian positions on the Golan Heights. Suffering a light injury, Romm brought his stricken aircraft to a landing at Ramat David. He was back flying the next day, June 7, when he scored his final kills of the 1967 war. A 119 squadron three-ship formation was vectored to intercept Egyptian MiG-17s attacking Israeli forces in the Sinai, and Romm shot down two to become the IAF's first jet ace. Although other aces had served with the IAF before, Romm was the first to score all five kills while flying for the IAF (as opposed to pilots who had scored while flying with allied air forces in WWII). A Segen (lieutenant) at the time, IAF commander Mordechai Hod incorrectly addressed Romm as a Seren (captain) at a victory dinner several weeks after the war. At the faithful instigation of his fellow pilots, Hod promptly promoted Romm to the higher rank.

Following the Six Day War, a period of ongoing aerial conflict took place between Egypt and Israel known as the War of Attrition. By 1969 Romm was slated to convert to the US F-4 Phantom. In September 1969, however, he was shot down in his Mirage and captured by the Egyptians. On September 9 the IDF had carried out Operation Raviv, a mounted raid into Egyptian territory, and on September 11 Egypt responded with a large air raid on Israeli positions in the Sinai. Scrambled to the scene, Romm was pursuing a pair of MiG-21s when he was hit by another MiG he had failed to spot, reportedly flown by Major Fawzi Salama. Romm bailed out of his Mirage and landed in the Egyptian Delta, suffering multiple painful fracture injuries. Denied proper medical attention, he was held at a prison at Abbassia, near Cairo, where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured. On December 5, after three months in captivity, Romm and fellow pilot Nissim Ashkenazi were released in a prisoner exchange. Hospitalized back in Israel for 4 months, he was eventually able to return to flying. He was then assigned command of an IAF flight school squadron.

The Yom Kippur War of 1973 was almost a complete surprise to Israel. The Egyptians crossing the Suez Canal and Syrians advancing along the entire Golan Heights was almost overwhelming for Israel’s ground and air forces. On October 3, 1973, 115 Squadron lost its commanding officer, Ami Gadish, when his A-4 Skyhawk went down. On Friday, October 5, Romm took command of the squadron, despite having never flown a Skyhawk before, nor having served with the unit. The Yom Kippur War broke out the very next day, and Romm's first flight was a combat sortie targeting Egyptian troops crossing the Suez Canal. Romm familiarized himself with the aircraft while in route to the target. He later described the sortie:

“Reserve pilot Uri Bina was section leader. He called "Three pulls" over the radio and I pulled with him into a pop-up maneuver for the first time in my life in a Skyhawk. I rolled onto my back at 6,000 feet and dove. The yellow glow of an SA-2 missile came toward me from Port Said, at which point I thought to myself "is the whole world against me today?" I tried to execute the attack and rejoin Uri Bina. "Four, your bombs didn't release" Uri called. I returned to the initial point before heading back to the target once again, this time alone.”

The squadron was eventually to fly 750 sorties throughout the war, losing 7 aircraft, with 5 pilots killed in action and 2 lost as prisoners of war.

Romm commanded 115 Squadron until 1976, when he was appointed head of the research department at Lamdan, Israel, the IAF's Air Intelligence Directorate. In 1980 he was assigned command of the new airbase constructed in the Negev at Ramon, and in 1984 went on to command Tel Nof, largest of all IAF bases. As commander of Tel Nof, in 1985 he participated in Operation Wooden Leg, flying one of the F-15 Eagles that struck PLO headquarters in Tunisia.

In 1987, Romm became the deputy head of IDF Operations Directorate and deputy IAF commander, a billet he held during the 1991 Gulf War. Shortly after the war he was promoted to Major General and appointed Israeli military attaché to the United States. Following this tour, he returned to Israel, where he retired in 1996.

Since retiring from the military, Giora Romm has continued to serve. He was appointed director of the Ministry of National Infrastructure, under then-minister Ariel Sharon. In 2001 he worked as Israel’s director general of the Jewish Agency. In 2008 he took over as director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel.

Giorra Romm holds a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Bar Ilan University, and an MBA from UCLA. He has been part of the teams at the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and been chairman of Mezilah, the Center for Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought. Alongside his wife Miriam, they have parented a daughter and two sons. And in 2008, he received the 2009 Yitzhak Sadeh Prize in military literature for his autobiography: Tzivony Arba (Tulip Four).

Yes, it reflects the story of a life well lived in service to others.


Wednesday, September 4th


"A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don't have one. You'll probably never need one again."

The definition of the word Conundrum is: Something that is puzzling or confusing.

Here are six Conundrums of Socialism in the United States of America:

1. America is capitalist and greedy - yet half of the population is subsidized.

2. Half of the population is subsidized - yet they think they are victims.

3. They think they are victims - yet their representatives run the government.

4. Their representatives run the government - yet the poor keep getting poorer.

5. The poor keep getting poorer - yet they have things that people in other Countries only dream about.

6. They have things that people in other countries only dream about, yet they want America to be more like those other countries.

7. Think about it! And that, my friends, pretty much sums up the USA in the 21st Century.

Makes you wonder who is doing the math. By the way.....

1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works. And here's another one worth considering...

2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. But we never hear about welfare or food stamps running out of money? What's interesting is the first group "worked for" their money, but the second didn't.

Think about it ... and pass it on.

Wednesday, August 28th

Battle Hymn of the Republic

by Julia War Howe (1819-1910)

Introduction by Col. Mike Howard, U.S. Marines (Ret): At the most contentious time in US History, America was embroiled in a brutal Civil War. At least 750,000 Americans, both Northerners & Southerners, would die during this horrendous conflict. At the heart of the conflict were two central themes, state’s rights over a central federal government, and the abolition of slavery, which the majority of our founders had failed to enact in 1776.

During our current strife between a Leftist, progressive, socialist agenda and that of a strictly constitutional, traditional, heritage based Right, it is time to reflect again on this song and its powerful, ever appropriate message. The song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age (Old Testament, Isaiah 63, New Testament, Revelation 19) with the American Civil War and the future. Since that time, it has become an extremely popular and well-known American patriotic song. Are we a nation that vacillates upon the moral relativism of human whim, or the moral authority of the Bible? Everything is at stake in this world, but God’s eternal plan will triumph.

Of all the songs written during and about the American Civil War (1861-1865), perhaps none is as strongly identified with the Union cause today as Julia Ward Howe's stirring "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Since that War, this song (meant as a hymn to honor God’s sovereignty), has been a fixture in patriotic programs and is still sung in schools and churches across the nation. It has a beautiful, powerful message.

In the early days of the War, the song "John Brown's Body" was wildly popular. Although in its original incarnation it had nothing to do with the notorious abolitionist leader hanged at Harpers Ferry on December 2, 1859, it became inextricably identified with him and acquired new verses that were sung by Federal troops and Union sympathizers alike. The tune was borrowed from an old Methodist hymn, "Say, Brothers, Will You Meet Us?" by William Steffe.

In November of 1861, Julia Ward Howe, the daughter of a well-to-do New York City banker, was touring Union army camps near Washington, D.C. with Reverend James Freeman Clarke and with her husband, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, who was a member of President Lincoln's Military Sanitary Commission and a fervent abolitionist. During the course of their camp visit, the group began to sing some of the currently popular war songs, among them "John Brown's Body."

The "Glory, Hallelujah" tune was a folk hymn developed in the oral hymn tradition of camp meetings in the southern United States and first documented in the early 1800s. In the first known version, "Canaan's Happy Shore," the text includes the verse "Oh! Brothers will you meet me on Canaan’s happy shore?" and chorus "There we'll shout and give him glory for glory is his own." This developed into the familiar "Glory, glory, hallelujah" chorus by the 1850s. The tune and variants of these words spread across both the southern and northern United States.

At a flag-raising ceremony at Fort Warren, near Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, May 12, 1861, the John Brown song, using the well known "Oh! Brothers" tune and the "Glory, Hallelujah" chorus, was publicly played, perhaps for the first time. The Civil War had begun the previous month.

After the war, George Kimball wrote his account of how the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Massachusetts militia, known as the "Tiger" Battalion, collectively worked out the lyrics to "John Brown's Body."

Kimball wrote:

We had a jovial Scotchman in the battalion, named John Brown. ... and as he happened to bear the identical name of the old hero of Harper’s Ferry, he became at once the butt of his comrades. If he made his appearance a few minutes late among the working squad, or was a little tardy in falling into the company line, he was sure to be greeted with such expressions as "Come, old fellow, you ought to be at it if you are going to help us free the slaves," or, "This can't be John Brown—why, John Brown is dead. Yes, poor old John Brown is dead; his body lies mouldering in the grave." According to Kimball, these ditties and sayings became by-words among the Union soldiers.

These lines seemed to give general satisfaction, the idea that Brown's soul was "marching on" receiving recognition at once as having a germ of inspiration in it. They were sung over and over again with a great deal of gusto, the "Glory, hallelujah" chorus being always added.

Some leaders of the battalion, feeling the words were coarse and irreverent, tried to urge the adoption of more fitting lyrics, but to no avail.

The official histories of several Union units also record the Tiger Battalion's role in creating the John Brown Song, confirming the general thrust of Kimball's version with a few additional details.

Kimball's battalion was dispatched to Murray, Kentucky, early in the Civil War, and Julia Ward Howe heard this song during a public review of the troops outside Washington, D.C., on Upton Hill, Virginia. Rufus R. Dawes, then in command of Company "K" of the 6th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, stated in his memoirs that the man who started the singing was Sergeant John Ticknor of his company. Howe's companion at the review was the Reverend James Freeman Clarke. In one of those rare flashes of inspiration that leave their mark on the history of a nation, Reverend Clarke was moved to suggest that Mrs. Howe pen new lyrics to the familiar tune. She replied that she had often thought of doing just exactly that.

Staying at the Willard Hotel in Washington on the night of November 18, 1861, Howe wrote the six verses to the "Battle Hymn of the Republic. Early on the following morning, as Mrs. Howe later described it, she "awoke ... in the gray of the early dawn, and to my astonishment found that the wished-for lines were arranging themselves in my brain. I lay quite still until the last verse had completed itself in my thoughts, then hastily arose, saying to myself, 'I shall lose this if I don't write it down immediately.'"

Mrs. Howe's lyrics first appeared on the front page of the Atlantic Monthly in February of 1862. Editor James T. Fields, who paid her $5 for the piece, is credited with having given the song the name by which it is known today. The sixth verse written by Howe, which is less commonly sung, was not published at that time.

After the war, Mrs. Howe was active in the women's suffrage movement. In 1868, she founded the New England Women's Club and was one of the founders of the New England Women's Suffrage Association. She was much in demand as a lecturer. Although she continued her writing, nothing she produced ever achieved the popularity of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." She would throughout her life, attribute the inspiration and words to the Holy Spirit. It was a hymn invoking God’s blessing, courage and wisdom upon a righteous cause. Julia Ward Howe died October 17, 1910, at the age of 91. And what a legacy and inspiring challenge she left all of us who love America.


Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword

His truth is marching on

Glory, Glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His truth is marching on

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps

They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps

I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps

His day is marching on


Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

His day is marching on

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel

"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal"

Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel

Since God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Since God is marching on

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat

He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat

Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!

Our God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea

With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free

While God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

While God is marching on

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,

He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,

So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,

Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Our God is marching on!

Robert Shaw Chorale, Conductor

RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra, Recorded July 1962


Great Civil War & US History cinema versions




Monday, August 26th

The Toughest Man on the Longest Day

Introductory Note by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret): War is often chaos, and this was the case during the initial hours of the Normandy invasion. Brigadier General Theodore #Roosevelt Jr. was one of the first soldiers, along with Captain Leonard T. Schroeder Jr., off his landing craft as he led the 4th Infantry Division ashore at Utah Beach. He was accompanied in the first wave by the 8th Infantry Regiment and 70th Tank Battalion. Roosevelt was soon informed that their landing craft had drifted south of their objective by over a mile. Walking with the aid of a cane (he had been wounded in WWI) and carrying a pistol, he personally made a reconnaissance of the area immediately to the rear of the beach to locate the causeways that were to be used for the advance inland. He returned to the point of landing and contacted the commanders of the two battalions, Lieutenant Colonels Conrad C. Simmons and Carlton O. MacNeely, and coordinated the attack on the enemy positions confronting them. Opting to improvise and fight from where they had landed rather than trying to conduct a complicated move to their originally assigned positions, Roosevelt's famous words were, "We'll start the war from right here!" This very scene is powerfully portrayed by actor Henry Fonda in the #WWII classic “The Longest Day”.

Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt Jr., the son of President “Teddy” Roosevelt, was the oldest man to hit the beach on the D-day invasion. He was also the highest ranking person to directly participate in the beach landing invasion. He was supposed to be with the other command staff in England. Gen. Roosevelt knew the importance of the mission, he knew much of the invasion force were new, untried soldiers who had never seen combat. His requests to join his men were repeatedly denied, but he persisted, even when his superiors told him he faced near certain death.

He was granted permission after explaining how his presence would inspire confidence in the invasion plan. The Commander of the Allied Forces, General Eisenhower wrote Roosevelt’s eulogy before the invasion.

On the morning of the attack, as he requested, Gen. Roosevelt was in one of the lead landing craft. He led his men across the beach to a rally point under heavy fire. Being pinned down, it appeared they were going to be wiped out. Roosevelt took charge and led a move over the sea wall.

At that time, he realized other troops were trapped back on the beach, and cut off. He returned to the beach and led these men to join the attacking force. He repeated this action several times, under heavy fire.

For these actions, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The official citation is below:

“For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France.”

What the citation does not say, is that Gen. Roosevelt was a combat veteran of WWI, where he was disabled by being shot through the knee. He required a cane to walk due to his injury. Gen. Roosevelt was 56 years old at the time of the invasion. He literally stormed the beach at Normandy with a cane in one hand and a pistol in the other!

When the beach was secured, later that day, command staff began to arrive. They were met on the beach by Gen. Roosevelt who gave a full report on the invasion operation.

Six days later, Roosevelt died of a heart attack. He is buried with over 9,000 of his fellow GIs in Normandy, France, overlooking Omaha Beach. He has been called “the toughest man on the longest day.”

Final Note by MH: By correctly improvising and modifying his division's original plan on the beach, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. enabled US troops to achieve their mission objectives by coming ashore and attacking north behind the beach toward its original objective. Years later, General Omar Bradley was asked to name the single most heroic action he had ever seen in combat. He replied, "Ted Roosevelt on Utah Beach."

Sunday, August 25th

The Fence Test

Pretty much says it like it is …

You can’t get any more accurate than this! This is straight forward country thinking. by Jeff Foxworthy

#Which side of the fence?

If you ever wondered which side of the fence you sit on, this is a great test!

If a Republican doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.

If a Democrat doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.

If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.

If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.

If a Democrat is down-and-out he wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Republican doesn’t like a talk show host, he switches channels.

A Democrat demands that those they don’t like be shut down.

If a Republican is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.

A Democrat non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.

If a Democrat decides he needs health care, he demands the rest of us pay for his.

If a Republican is unhappy with an election, he grumbles and goes to work the next day.

If a Democrat is unhappy with an election, he burns down a Starbucks, throws rocks at cops and takes two-weeks off for therapy.

If a Republican reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.

A Democrat will delete it because he’s “offended.”

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles....

Friday, August 16th

Aliz Noy IDF Wounded Warrior

Sacrifice for Israel, 1967 Battle for Old City of Jerusalem

by Col. Mike Howard

Earlier this year, I had the privilege of meeting General Avigdor Kahalani, one of Israel’s most distinguished tank commanders and hero of the Golan Heights in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His magnificent works The Heights of Courage and A Warrior’s Way are well known in the US military. The meeting was set up by a close friend of mine, David Noy, a retired Israel Air Force pilot who flew F-4 Phantoms (the IAF more accurately and affectionately calls it the ‘Kurnass’ – Sledgehammer in Hebrew). Knucklehead US Marine that I am, I did not realize the full story until we arrived at the impressive Tel Aviv “Beit Halochem” (House of the Warriors). It was here at the IDF Disabled Veteran’s Organization, that the full story dawned on me. The real connection and person I needed to thank in meeting Gen Kahalani was David’s older brother Aliz Noy. It became obvious to me that Aliz and Avigdor are close friends. This was another reminder to me of what I love about Israel, it is one extended family and connections of the heart are at the center of everything.

I had learned from my good friend and award winning author Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit & Unbroken), that often you come across a fascinating topic while working on an earlier one. So is was here with the Noy Family. In their gracious hospitality in connecting me with one of my all-time career heroes, I was meeting another! I soon realized that Aliz Noy is one of the most friendly, humble, sincere men I’ve been blessed to meet.

Israel’s Six Day War (5-10 June 1967) forever changed the Middle East. After being forced into a pre-emptive strike by her Arab neighbors (who had closed the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping & mobilized their armies), Israel moved to defend herself. When the dust settled, Israel had conquered and occupied the Sinai Peninsula, the Old City and Eastern section of Jerusalem, the West Bank (Judea-Samaria), and the Golan Heights. Outnumbered five to one in troops, four to one in aircraft, and three to one in tanks, Israel defeated an alliance of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and other Arab allies.

The Israeli capture of the Old City and East Jerusalem commenced on 7 June, when Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan ordered his troops to move east and encircle the eastern half of the ancient city. Many of Jerusalem’s historic Jewish sites, particularly the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple and the Jewish Quarter, had been captured by Jordanian forces in the 1948 War of Independence. Many Jews had been forced to leave these portions of the city after many centuries of having lived there.

While Israeli forces were fighting in the Sinai, West Bank, and Golan Heights, two elite Israeli paratroop battalions went into action moving east along the northern boundary of Jordanian forces in Jerusalem. They attacked the Augusta-Victoria Hill which was the eastern high ground overlooking the Old City. One IDF battalion attacked Mount Scopus, and the other attacked from the valley between it and the Old City. While these units served to hold down the enemy and provide a base of fire and security from the rear, another parachute battalion, personally led by Israeli General Motta Gur, broke into the Old City. IDF armor units were not employed for fear of damaging the historically significant areas. They were soon joined by the other two parachute battalions who had completed their mission. There was Jordanian Army resistance, but the IDF paratroopers overwhelmed and defeated them. For the first time in 2,000 years, Jerusalem was now once again the united capital of Israel. The Jewish people had liberated the ancient City of David and could now worship at the Temple Mount. Powerful images were taken by film of Israeli troops in tears at the foot of the Western Wall, with an Army Rabbi and Torah among them. Yes, Biblical prophecies were fulfilled that day, 7 June 1967.

Not only was the Middle East and the history of Jerusalem changed this significant day, but so was the life of a 22 year old Israeli paratrooper. Lieutenant Aliz Noy was a platoon commander in this parachute brigade, and he had been badly hit by enemy fire while leading his troops.

In Aliz’ own words:

“Our forces broke through the Jordanian formation and advanced toward Jerusalem from the north. After a long night of fighting, at sunrise, we saw the holy places of Jerusalem for the first time, viewing the mosques on the Temple Mount glowing in the rising sun. None of us spoke. We were so moved. Tears choked our throats, overwhelmed and overjoyed. We all felt tremendous pride in having been chosen to take part in the liberation of the eternal capital of the Jewish people, our holiest of places as well as the sacred religious sites of all monotheistic religions.”

Aliz continued:

“But the joy and emotion was quickly shattered by the realities of the ongoing battle. On that very day quite a few members of my unit, including the commander, were killed, while I was severely wounded in the right leg. Luckily I was evacuated to a nearby hospital where I received urgent care that saved my life. But after two days, my condition left the doctors with no choice but to amputate my leg.”

Over fifty years later, Aliz has had plenty of time to reflect on these events. The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Six Day War had incredible meaning to him. He knew that fifty years prior to his being wounded, his Grandfather had fought in World War One. He had also been wounded in the right leg, and died from his wounds two years later. As Aliz said: “Does history repeat itself? Is it destiny? Fate? Who knows?”

On the same day that Aliz was hit and would later lose his leg, Israeli forces overcame Jordanian resistance and secured the entire Old City of Jerusalem. This was highlighted by the historic message that went out to all IDF units and eventually all of Israel: “Temple Mount is in our hands.”

To this day, Aliz shares: “Can you imagine what Jerusalem means for me, for my generation, for my people? For years we lived in a divided Jerusalem, where we on the Western side were fenced off from the Holy places. We could only dream of visiting the Temple Mount. Jerusalem, mine and Israel’s, our eternal Jewish capitol since the ancient days of the Bible (Editor’s Note: King David, 1,000 years BC or BCE) was divided and parts of it ruled by others. Then on that day, our dream of thousands of years had finally been realized. Jerusalem, after some 2,000 years, was re-united as the capital of Israel.”

Like many distinguished combat vets, Aliz does not consider himself a hero. What he had helped accomplish fills him with a sense of exhilaration, excitement, and a sense of pride. He views his injury and the heavy toll it exacted on his unit and friends, as a deeply personal sacrifice. A united Jerusalem was well worth it. He shares that this was also a source of strength for him during the painful, prolonged rehabilitation period that followed. It greatly helped him accept and live with his personal loss.

Following the Six Day War, Aliz was released from the hospital and re-entered active military service where he honorably served for another thirteen years. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Aliz states that his injury and rehabilitation was a painful, time-consuming process, but ultimately a healthy one. He arose from the situation even more determined to make the most out of life. He has focused on living life to the fullest, never giving up, aiming for the top and never giving in to various difficulties. What I immediately noticed about Aliz Noy when he gave me a detailed tour of Beit Halochem, was that he is a tremendous encouragement to others, particularly younger veterans. He knows everyone in the huge complex by name, and they know him. He is greeted with a smile, hugs, and folks praise him for the work he does in serving others. I was really impressed with his extensive range of friends. As General Kahalani told me, Aliz should be the mayor!

In closing, Aliz shares that his amputated leg has become a true part of him. He is obviously reminded of it, sometimes painfully so, but it never gets in his way. He still has the heart of an IDF Paratrooper, and stays active doing plenty of extreme sports, skiing, hiking, off road biking and swimming. In the Marines, we would easily call him a “Gung-Ho Warrior” and battle buddy to all. His faith in God is evident in the pride he shows in being an important part of Jerusalem’s history, not to mention that of Israel and the Jewish people.

Aliz has a loving wife of over 50 years who married him right after his being wounded. They have three married sons with wonderful wives and “no less” than seven amazing grandchildren. He is thankful that his unique story lives on in this loving family who cherishes their heritage. They understand the blessings of family, friends, faith, flag and freedom, particularly when each year, their Dad gathers with his old “battle buddies” to remember and honor their friends who made the ultimate sacrifice on the ancient limestone rocks of Jerusalem, the sacred, united capital of Israel.

Thank you Lieutenant Colonel Aliz Noy, for what you did, and for sharing your story.


Monday, July 29th

The Middle Muddle East Game

(originally termed by L. Carl Brown as 'The Eastern Question Game Rules')

The unique character of the region & special endemic problems. (Note: Providential History & Divine

Intervention transcend all of the following in accordance with I Samuel 17:47 "The battle belongs to the Lord.")

1.) Players combine & divide in shifting alliances. But Israel usually stands alone.

2.) Outsiders brought in until all involved (faith issues: Judaism, Christianity, & Islam).

a. "everything is related to everything else" (faith, politics, economics).

b. any initiative realigns other players ("kaleidoscope analogy").

3.) All boundaries are blurred (local, regional, national, & international).

4.) Political moves geared to reaction of outside world.

5.) Great power rivalries more important than rational regional interests.

6.) "Things never so good, nor so bad, as they seem" (rarely is one player all powerful).

7.) Special characteristics:

a. "fait accompli" / "quick grab" (unwillingness to change status quo).

b. everything interrelated (reluctance to establish priorities of sequence or substance).

c. preference for "reactive politics" (maneuver & exploit).

d. use of mediators & third parties.

e. tactics over strategy.

f. no compromise (not an Arab tradition, let alone an Arabic word).

Other Lessons (Recipe for Strategic Instability):

Limitations of "Checkbook Diplomacy" - massive amounts of oil money cannot buy security (Kuwait & Saudi Arabia vs. Iraq). Saudi Arabia, the 'Guardian of Islam' was in no position to guard anything. Where U.S. could not negotiate peace, tried to purchase it (Egypt-Israel, Iraq).

Arms acquisitions continue (defensive needs vs. offensive desires). Nukes on horizon.

Middle East states driven primarily by national self-interests, rather than regional.

Democracy is alien to Arab political culture (societies have yet to reach such a stage of development). Of 22 Arab states (radical or conservative), there is not one healthy democracy. Israel is the exception, not the rule in the region (West must realize: can't impose democracy as Sharia law incompatible with US Constitution & Western Civilization). Remember “Islam” literally means submission & surrender.

Please pass these on to our fellow Americans! We must learn from them!

Shalom through Superior Firepower!

Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

“Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana


Monday, July 22nd

Marines killed on Tarawa returned t

By William Cole

The remains of at least 22 Marines killed in the bloody 1943 Battle of Tarawa — a costly lesson in amphibious attack — were returned to American soil Wednesday night and honored in a ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

An Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft transported the Marines from the Republic of Kiribati 2,400 miles southwest of Hawaii. Honor guards of six Marines wearing white gloves acted as pallbearers for each of 22 American flag-draped caskets that were carried into Hangar 19 at Hickam.

“Today we welcome home more than 20 American servicemen still unaccounted for from the Battle of Tarawa during World War II,” acting Secretary of Defense Richard Spencer said in a news release. “We do not forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, and it is our duty and obligation to return our missing home to their families and the nation.”

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will seek to make identifications of the fallen Marines at its lab at Hickam.

The Battle of Tarawa, waged from Nov. 20-23, 1943, was part of Operation Galvanic to capture Japanese-held territory in the Gilbert Islands. It was the first major seaborne assault launched against a heavily defended atoll — and the Marines paid a large price in lives for their ultimate success.

Over 76 hours, about 1,000 Marines and sailors were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded trying to take the heavilydefended Japanese outpost on the tiny isle of Betio, just a few miles long but bristling with dug-in troops, snipers and machine guns. Landing was made difficult by low tide and assault boats hung up on reefs.

Nearly all of the 4,800 Japanese defenders and Korean laborers were killed. The hard lessons learned would factor into every amphibious landing to come as the United States island-hopped across the Pacific.

The remains returned Wednesday are believed to belong to the 6th Marine Regiment, which fought hard taking out Japanese pillboxes and faced snipers and a “banzai” wave attack.

More than 150 Marines from Marine Corps Forces Pacific and service members with the accounting agency stood at attention as the caskets were brought in.

Lt. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, commander of Pacific Marines, said in remarks that, “As a Marine and perhaps for everyone who is present here tonight, it’s both an honor and a privilege as these Marines arrive back to the country that they loved.”

The Marines “gave their last measure so that we could live in peace,” he added.

Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz, deputy director of the accounting agency, said he was humbled to be there “to pay respects to these warriors who have finally begun their long-awaited journey home.”

Florida-based History Flight Inc., a nonprofit group, located the Marines and turned them over to the accounting agency in what the group said is the third largest recovery of missing Americans from Tarawa since major government repatriation work was finished in the 1950s.

History Flight turned over 24 sets of Tarawa remains in 2017, and 35 sets in 2015, including those of Medal of Honor recipient Marine Corps 1st Lt. Alexander Bonnyman Jr.

The group said that for many decades, few Americans were aware that over 500 Marines and a small number of Navy and Army personnel remained buried on or near Betio.

History Flight has a contract with the U.S. Defense Department worth $4.1 million for the recovery effort through July.

After the fighting, remains were hastily buried in trenches and other graves that were subsequently built over.

History Flight said it located over 100 individuals from in and around a site known as Cemetery 33. The latest recovery, which includes a total of more than 30 individuals, was partly underneath a building, said Executive Director Mark Noah.

The site was also below the water table.

“So the recovery work had to be done while pumping the local water table down to below the level that the burials are at, so it was very time-consuming,” Noah said in a phone interview.

“We’re very pleased to see the continued stream of successful recoveries from our partnership with DPAA,” Noah said.

Read more courtesy of Star Advertiser...

Thursday, July 4th

Happy Independence Day

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence? Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War. They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. What kind of men were they? Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated.

But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags. Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward. Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt. Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart. Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged: "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor." They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.

So, take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid. Remember Yorktown where French sailors are led to rest because they fought for your independence. Never forget these names: Lafayette, Rochambeau, Du Mortier and the French navy transported reinforcements, fought off a British fleet, and protected Washington’s forces in Virginia. French assistance was crucial in securing the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

Remember: freedom is never free.

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles.

Monday, July 22nd

The Real Private Ryan and the Chapl

by Lawrence P. Grayson

A World War II story of two Knights of Columbus inspired the blockbuster film by Steven Spielberg

Paratroopers poured from the sky before dawn on June 6, 1944, hurtling through fog and flak to the French countryside below. It was D-Day; the Allied invasion of Normandy had begun. In a few hours, 200,000 troops would land by sea, and the mission of these airborne units was to prepare the way.

Among those jumping into the dark were two members of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division: Father Francis L. Sampson, 32, the unit’s regimental chaplain and a member of the Knights of Columbus; and Sgt. Frederick “Fritz” Niland, 24, the youngest of four brothers serving in World War II.

The story of Sampson and Niland, brother paratroopers and eventually brother Knights, would later inspire Steven Spielberg’s epic film Saving Private Ryan.

On D-Day, Father Sampson parachuted into a river, cut off his gear and made his way to a French farmhouse where severely injured servicemen were being treated. As the area was about to be overrun by German troops, who were known to shoot prisoners, Father Sampson volunteered to stay with the injured.

Father Sampson was captured and put up against a wall. He was so frightened, he later said, that instead of praying the Act of Contrition, he kept repeating the Catholic blessing before meals: “Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts....” Incredibly, a Catholic German soldier recognized him as a priest, and he was spared.

As the Allied invasion continued, Father Sampson was allowed to stay at the aid station, where he shielded the wounded through a grueling artillery bombardment. Nominated for the Medal of Honor for his work tending to and evacuating these troops, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the U.S. Army’s second highest award for valor.

Meanwhile, Niland had been forced to jump early after his plane was hit by enemy fire. He landed miles away from his target and was behind enemy lines for nine days. He eventually rejoined his unit with help from the French Resistance in time for a key battle to secure the town of Carenten and link Allied forces at Omaha and Utah beaches.

It was near Utah beach that Niland sought out the chaplain, distraught at learning that his brother Robert, a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, had been killed June 6 and was buried about 20 miles away. Only a few weeks earlier, Fritz’s oldest brother, Edward, had been shot down in Burma — missing in action and presumed dead.

The chaplain offered to help Fritz find Robert’s grave and drove him from cemetery to cemetery, searching. When Sampson came upon the grave of Preston Niland, he showed it to Fritz, thinking that it had been recorded in error. “Father Sampson,” the young man replied, “Preston was my brother, too.” Unknown to Fritz, 2nd Lt. Preston Niland had been killed just a day after Robert, fighting on Utah beach. A check of a nearby cemetery revealed Robert’s grave.

So, believing Fritz to be his family’s only surviving son, the chaplain notified the War Department and initiated the paperwork to have him brought home.

Niland’s parents, Michael and Augusta, must have been grateful to Father Sampson, but Fritz was not. Informed by Sampson that he was being sent back to the United States, Niland refused, saying, “I’m staying here with my boys.”

Sampson replied, “You can take that up with General Eisenhower or the president, but you’re going home.”

In late summer 1944, Niland returned to New York, where he served out the rest of the war as a military policeman.

Father Sampson’s role does not appear in Saving Private Ryan, as reality was somewhat less dramatic than the movie: Fritz was not lost, and there was no search for him. Reality was also less tragic than the movie: Fritz’s brother Edward had survived and was found about a year later when a Japanese POW camp was liberated.

Shortly after returning home, Fritz joined Twin City Council 413 in Tonawanda, N.Y., on Dec. 1, 1944. He earned a degree in oral surgery from Georgetown University and established a practice near his hometown. He married and raised two daughters, Cate and Mary, and in 1983, he died at age 63.

Today, Cate Niland Remme still has vivid childhood memories of her father talking about the war.

“I will never forget the look in his eyes when he would recount the story to me and my sister, Mary,” she said. “He told us, ‘Girls, never forget that it took a presidential congressional order to get me out of France.’”

During one of Cate’s last visits to her father, Fritz told her, “Make sure to honor all the men.”

“So that’s what we did at his funeral,” Cate said. “We read off all the names of Company H.”

Fritz was later interred at Fort Richardson National Cemetery in Anchorage, Alaska, where the 1st Battalion of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment is now stationed.

“We buried him on D-Day with full military honors,” Cate added. “I always felt good that he would rest in peace with the 501.”

LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON writes from Maryland where he is a member of Rock Creek Council 2797 in Bethesda, and Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle Assembly 386 in Silver Spring.


THE PRIEST who “saved” Sgt. Fritz Niland had one of the most distinguished careers as a chaplain in U.S. military history.

A native of Iowa, Francis L. Sampson graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1937 and was ordained in 1941. After serving for a year as a parish priest in Neola, Iowa, where he joined Neola Council 1115, he enlisted in the U.S. Army as a chaplain.

Sampson later admitted that he volunteered for airborne duty somewhat unwittingly.

“Frankly, I did not know when I signed up for the airborne that chaplains would be expected to jump from an airplane in flight. Had I known this beforehand,” he said, “I am positive that I should have turned a deaf ear to the plea for airborne chaplains. However, once having signed up, I was too proud to back out.”

Three months after his heroic efforts on D-Day, Father Sampson took part in an airborne assault on Holland, jumping behind enemy lines for the second time. The chaplain was later captured at the Battle of the Bulge and sent to a prison camp in Germany, where he spent six days in an overcrowded boxcar, sustained only by snow scraped from the top of the train. At his own request, Father Sampson was confined with the enlisted men, rather than the officers. James D. Alger, a fellow prisoner who later became a lieutenant general, said, “Father Sampson’s misfortune in being captured turned out to be a blessing for the men he served in Stalag II-A. … God knew he was sorely needed there.”

After the war, Father Sampson hung up his jump boots — but not for long.

In his 1958 memoir, Look Out Below!, he wrote that the life he briefly returned to in Iowa was in many ways ideal, but added, “I missed life in the Army; I missed most of all my soldier congregation.”

He returned to active duty in 1946 and later served as chaplain of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regiment during the Korean War.

“Combat truly was a perfect laboratory for a priest’s study and work,” he wrote. “All the artificialities and superficialities of civilian life were cut away. There remained nothing but bedrock character….”

In 1967, Father Sampson was appointed Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Army with the rank of major general. During the Vietnam War, he annually spent Christmas with the troops, and was untiring in visiting hospitalized soldiers. He also served as president of the USO from 1971-1974.

A 55-year member of the Knights of Columbus, Msgr. Francis Sampson belonged to Big Sioux Council 5029 in Flandreau, S.D., at the time of his death in 1996 — two years before the release of Saving Private Ryan. His tombstone bears the words: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

— Lawrence Grayson

Read more courtesy of Knights of Columbus...

Monday, July 22nd

America vs Culture Jihadists

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Abraham Lincoln said it best: “Never bet against your country in the middle of a war.”

Snowflakes and fruitcakes need to wake up to the reality that America and the West are still at war. The moral majority of America must wake up and realize just what is going on with this leftist, socialist agenda. It is supported by self-serving, gutless, elitist lefties in government who demonize anyone who disagrees with them. They simply use the fake news media to print the lies. They cry ‘inclusiveness’ but ridicule anyone who disagrees with them in the self-proclaimed mantra of Nancy Pelosi, who borrowed this tactic from Joseph Goebbels and his tactics of 1930’s Germany. This current war to preserve Western Civilization is not by our choice, but by the evil thrust and manipulative intent of our enemies who attacked us on 9/11. To ignore this foreign and domestic ongoing threat is not just unpatriotic, it is self-delusional and dangerous to our existence. When you try to pluck the American Eagle a feather at a time, you’d better be prepared for the talons. And that goes for desecrating the American Flag, Betsy Ross to the present Old Glory.

God bless Coach John Krupinsky of Danbury, Connecticut! At least American Hockey and NASCAR get it right!

Colin Kaepernick and the Culture Jihadists Are Coming For Old Glory

By Todd Starnes


July 3, 2019

For the past year I have been researching the relentless attacks on American traditions for my upcoming book, “Culture Jihad: How to Stop the Left From Killing a Nation.”

The “culture jihadists” refer to a militant army made up of secularists, socialists and race agitators. They are committed to finishing what President Obama started when he promised to fundamentally change the nation.

They literally want to destroy the foundations of this great nation. They want to turn our traditions and our history into a heaping pile of rubble.

That’s why I was not very surprised when Nike decided to drop the historic Betsy Ross flag design from a shoe commemorating Independence Day.

Failed NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took personal offense because he says the colonial flag represents slavery. This is the same man who launched a national campaign to disrespect the national anthem — supposedly to protest law enforcement. In reality, Kaepernick he just hates America. He’s nothing more than a glorified race agitator.

The narrative being advanced by Kaepernick and his fellow culture jihadists is that America is inherently a racist nation that is responsible for all of the world’s problems. And their argument is gaining traction.
It’s the same argument that was advanced at George Washington High School in San Francisco. The school board decided to cover up a fresco of our first president because he owned slaves. Lawmakers in Charlottesville, Virginia just used that argument to banish Thomas Jefferson Day.

It was the same argument used by culture jihadists in Philadelphia who successfully had a statue of Kate Smith removed from outside a sports venue because she once performed a song now considered to be racially offensive.

It’s the same argument used by leftists who successfully banned books like Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird and Little House on the Prairie.

And it is the same argument being used by leftists to ban conservatives from restaurants and justify attacking them in the streets.

Heaven forbid the culture jihadists take back control of Washington, D.C. Should that happen I have no doubt they will try to banish Old Glory and turn the Jefferson Memorial into a pile of rubble. And for that matter, don’t be surprised if they attempt to rename the nation’s capital city.

“Culture Jihad” is a call to arms for every freedom-loving American, Christians and Jews, straight and gay, black and white and brown. Happy warriors, all.

We are tasked with defending a noble cause and a noble faith. Sure, we’ve taken more than a few sucker punches and the enemies of freedom have us surrounded. No doubt that our numbers are dwindling, but we are still in the fight. Because we are Americans.

Lieutenant General Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller was the most decorated Marine in the history of the nation. To say that this leatherneck was a badass would be a great understatement.

His bravery and valor are legendary and still today Marines invoke his name.

Puller was also known for his quips and one in particular is appropriate for our political fight with the culture jihadists. Puller and his troops were surrounded by enemy fighters in Korea. He told his men, “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us … they can’t get away this time.”

In other words, be men and women of courage. It is imperative that gun-toting, Bible-clinging patriots rise up with a mighty voice and declare that this Great American Experiment is worth saving.

And remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battle is against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

In closing, I leave you with these words, written by George Washington on July 2, 1776: “The fate of the unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Let us, therefore, rely upon the goodness of the cause and the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory, is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions.”

Onward to great and noble actions, my fellow countrymen. God speed, America!

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles...

Monday, July 22nd

Happy 50th Moonlanding

'One Small Step for Man': Was Neil Armstrong Misquoted?

by Natalie Wolchover August 27, 2012 Human Spaceflight

Apollo 11 astronauts trained on Earth to take individual photographs in succession in order to create a series of frames that could be assembled into panoramic images. This frame from Aldrin's panorama of the Apollo 11 landing site is the only good picture of mission commander Neil Armstrong on the lunar surface.

Upon taking a "small step" onto the surface of the moon in 1969, Neil Armstrong uttered what would become one of history's most famous one-liners. But strangely, what he actually said is far from clear.

Listeners back on Earth heard, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." But Armstrong, who died at the age of 82 on Saturday (Aug. 25), maintained afterwards that he actually said something slightly different: "That's one small step for a man..."

"It's just that people just didn't hear [the 'a']," Neil Armstrong told the press after the Apollo 11 mission.
That little indefinite article makes a big difference, semantically speaking. Without it, "man" abstractly represents all of humanity, just like "mankind." Thus, the quote is essentially, ''That's one small step for mankind, one giant leap for mankind.”

Despite his initial sureness that he got the grammar right by including the indefinite article, Armstrong acknowledged at a 30-year anniversary event in 1999 that he couldn't hear himself utter the "a" in the audio recording of his moonwalk transmission, according to the Associated Press.

But then, in 2006, computer programmer Peter Shann Ford might have vindicated Armstrong. Ford downloaded the audio recording of the moon man's words from a NASA website and analyzed the statement with software that allows disabled people to communicate via computers using their nerve impulses.

In a graphical representation of sound waves of the famous sentence, Ford said he found evidence that the missing "a" had been spoken after all: It was a 35-millisecond-long bump of sound between "for" and "man" that would have been too brief for human ears to hear.

"I have reviewed the data and Peter Ford's analysis of it, and I find the technology interesting and useful," Armstrong said in a statement. ''I also find his conclusion persuasive. Persuasive is the appropriate word."

And so was "a," whether spoken or not.

Note: This story was provided by Life's Little Mysteries, a sister site of SPACE.com.

March 7, 2012 clear photo by Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera of Apollo 11 landing site on the moon. Image even shows the footsteps of Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldrin around the Lunar Module. Image: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles....

Monday, June 24th

Which Way to Pointe du Hoc

by Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, 25 May 2019

Each generation is tested, from the Army Rangers of #DDay to the college graduates of 2019.

The Greatest Generation was forged at ‘Pointe du Hoc’ Normandy. President Reagan addresses the surviving U.S. Army veterans of the assault against Pointe du Hoc on June 6th, 1984 in Normandy, France. The assault on Pointe du Hoc was a key battle of the D-Day invasion.

A friend trying to help me work through a problem once told me the story of life is competition: Everyone’s trying to beat everyone else, and I should give more weight to this fact. There’s some truth in what he said, yet I thought his comment contained more autobiography than wisdom: He was the most competitive person I’d ever known, and he usually won. I lean toward the idea a lot of us are running our own races, trying to rise to the occasion and beat some past and limited conception of ourselves by doing something great. The paradox is that you’re running your own race alongside others running theirs, and in the same direction. You’re doing something great together.

This holiday weekend I find myself reflecting again on the boys who seized back the continent of Europe, and the boys and girls now graduating college and trying to figure out what history asks of them.

The week after next marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. People will be thinking of D-Day and seeing old clips of the speechifying that marked its anniversaries. I will think of two things. One is what most impressed Ronald Reagan. He spoke at the 40th anniversary, on June 6, 1984, at the U.S. Ranger Monument, and seated in the front rows as he spoke were the boys of Pointe du Hoc.

“Forty summers have passed since the battle that you fought here,” he told them. “You were young the day you took those cliffs; some of you were hardly more than boys.” Many were old now and some wept to remember what they had done, almost as if they were seeing their feat clearly for the first time.

Reagan spoke with each of them afterward, and what moved him most wasn’t all the ceremonies. It was that a bunch of young U.S. Army Rangers had, the day before, re-enacted the taking of the cliffs, up there with ropes and daggers, climbing—and one of the old Rangers who’d been there on D-Day and taken those cliffs 40 years before got so excited he jumped in and climbed along with the 20-year-olds.

“He made it to the top with those kids,” Reagan later told me. “Boy, that was something.” His eyes were still gleaming. Doesn’t matter your age, if you really want to do it you can do it.

A second thing I think of: My friend John Whitehead once told me, in describing that day, of a moment when, as a U.S. Navy ensign, he was piloting his packed landing craft toward Dog Red sector on Omaha Beach. They’d cast off in darkness, and when dawn broke they saw they were in the middle of a magnificent armada. Nearby some light British craft had gone down. Suddenly a landing craft came close by, and an Englishman called out: “I say, fellows, which way to Pointe du Hoc?”

Jaunty, as if he were saying “Which way to the cricket match?”

On John’s ship they pointed to the right. “Very good,” said the Englishman, who touched his cap and sped on.

John remembered the moment with an air of “Life is haphazard, a mess, and you’re in the middle of a great endeavor and it’s haphazard, a mess. But you maintain your composure, keep your spirit. You yell to the Yank, ‘Which way to Pointe du Hoc?’ and you tip your hat and go.’ ”

He would think of the Englishman for the rest of his life, and wonder if he’d survived. But of course he survived in John’s memory, then in mine, and now, as you read, in yours.

Now to the young today, the college graduates beginning their hazardous climbs. I was with some of them last weekend, at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. They were so impressive. They have grown up in a fairly strange country in a fairly strange era, yet their personal joy and optimism were almost palpable. The students of architecture wore on top of their graduation hats foot-high buildings, rockets and what looked like a cathedral; when their school was called they shot off sparkling confetti, and everyone cheered.

The young men were vibrant, smart. The young women have a 4.0 in neuroscience, are on their way to Cambridge, and look like movie stars.

But they’re earnest, all of them, like people who can surprise you—can surprise themselves—by meeting a historical test. And surely they’ll be given one, given many.

I’d been invited to give the commencement address, and for me this had a certain weight. I had never been to Notre Dame, but it has lived in my head since I was a child watching on television the movies of the 1930s and ’40s. And so in my mind Notre Dame is Knute Rockne and the Four Horsemen, it’s the Hail Mary pass and Touchdown Jesus. It is the Golden Dome.

The day before commencement I went over to see the intended stage, and walked through the shadowed Rockne Tunnel with the banners above marking the championship years. To emerge from that tunnel and walk out onto that field—all I could say was: Wow.

In the unseen circularity of life, Notre Dame is a place deeply associated with my old boss, who early in his career played George Gipp, and ever after was called the Gipper. It is the first school he visited, in May 1981, after he was shot in March. Notre Dame that day, having a sophisticated sense of what he’d been through, wore its heart on its sleeve.

In his speech he had touched on great themes of 20th-century conservatism—America was economically bound down and needed unleashing. I would speak on 21st-century conservatism—America is culturally damaged and needs undergirding.

Before I spoke a friend teased me: Reagan would be proud. I said I thought so but actually I thought of Nancy, who would have given me a look with three layers in it and said: “Good.”

The day before commencement I met with scholars at the university’s Center for Ethics and Culture, which is devoted to the Catholic intellectual tradition within all disciplines. The students and teachers were learned, steeped in the meaning of things. I told the students the most important thing to remember as they enter the rough old world: Keep your faith. If you lose it, get it back. It is the thing you will need most, the thing without which nothing is real. “Everything good in your life will spring from it.”

“You were born into a counterculture. It is the great gift of your life. The world needs this counterculture because even the world knows it needs something to counter itself.” Halfway through I realized I didn’t have to say this, because they already knew.

Now they push off, into whatever challenges history gives them. And what’s inside them, from sheer attitude to mere style, will affect all outcomes.

Which way to Pointe du Hoc? It’s the question for them and for all, isn’t it? What will our great achievement be? And who will be there with us, climbing alongside, as we seize crucial terrain together?

More Salute Targets coming soon!

Monday, June 24th

12 Gauge Love

by Melissa Reed

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret): My wife and I recently hosted a large surprise 70th Birthday Party & BBQ for a dear friend and Montana Ranch girl. Naturally, our gun ranges were open and there was a lot of positive conservative camaraderie. It was a large group and one of the new folks I met was a young mother of two who had a fascinating story about romance and common values. Thankfully, she agreed to let us run with this unique story. It restores my hope in the future of America!

So here is Melissa’s story …

In the era of on-line dating, you could say Chris and I met the good old way ... through a mutual friend. I had recently moved back to rural Yamhill, Oregon, where I grew up, and was looking for a new hobby. One of my long-time guy friends invited me to the Verboort Gun Club to try trap shooting.

Wielding one of my Dad's trusted shotguns, a reliable pump-action Mossberg, I showed up on a Wednesday night with my friend. I was soon hooked. After repeatedly showing up over the following several weeks, the question finally came up as to my dating status. Of course the thought (assumptions by the guys present) was that I was involved with the guy I had been attending with, or I was the wife of another guy friend, both of whom I had grown up with and considered to be more like brothers than someone I would be involved with as a boyfriend.

Amidst all this speculation, there WAS someone I had casually noticed and become interested in. I finally worked up the courage to approach Chris, telling him he had the most beautiful eyes. I do remember laughing at his gun though ... a stubby shotgun resembling a sawed-off coach-gun from some old gangster or western movie. Eventually, our mutual friend, Nikki, exchanged our phone numbers and we started texting. We began dating in 2012 and were married September 26, 2015. We now have two beautiful daughters: Oakley (yes, named after Annie Oakley, of course, the first American female shootist & rockstar) and Parker (historically named after Bonnie Parker of Bonnie & Clyde). Yes, two American women who could handle weapons well!

Chris eventually bought me a better gun for trap shooting, a Remington 1100, and my first handgun, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special. We still enjoy shooting, but being dedicated parents and working hard, we don't get out as often as we would like on shooting dates!

I must confess to the reader that I am a VERY competitive person. Many times throughout our trap shooting seasons I walked off the line saying "I quit". Yet every time, Chris worked his magic and was there to patiently encourage me and make suggestions as to how I could improve. With each suggestion, from my now husband and other shooters, I would smile, listen to what they had to say, think to myself "yeah right", and vow that I would not show up the next week. But the next Wednesday, practice night would come around and I'd pack my stuff and walk back out onto the line hoping to be more successful. With practice, I improved. I still have not out-shot my husband, but hope to someday. We women are a very patient, focused breed. And motherhood further instills in us a sense of positive perspective and hope.

As a 2nd Amendment American shooting couple, we plan on bringing up and teaching our girls gun safety and the heritage they are blessed with in this nation. In their futures, we would love for them to appreciate and enjoy taking up shooting in some or all of its many aspects. Whether the simple pleasure of plinking, competitive shooting, or the crucial right to self-defense, they will understand their rights and responsibilities.

“I ain’t afraid to love a man. I ain’t afraid to shoot him, either.” Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Mosey of Ohio, 1860-1926)

Closing Comments by Col Howard: As the father of four grown daughters who all shoot, I intend to offer Melissa my wife’s copy of “Warrior Women” (3000 Years of Courage and Heroism), by Robin Cross & Rosalind Miles, Metro Books, New York, 2011.

Among my Favorites:

  • Boudicca

  • Brunhilde

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine

  • Joan of Arc

  • Elizabeth I

  • Molly Pitcher

  • Jacqueline Cochran

  • Golda Meir

  • Margaret Thatcher

Sadly they left out frontier American classic patriot shooter: Hannah Duston.

Make sure you look Hannah up!

More Salute Target articles coming soon!

Thursday, June 13th

Michael Wittmann - Top WWII Tank Ac

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

Tactical Audacity: Michael Wittmann at Villers-Bocage, 13 June 1944

"At this point, enemy tanks have ceased to be a strain on my nerves." Wittmann

Michael Wittman was unquestionably the greatest and most daring tank commander the world has ever seen. He was also an un-repentant Nazi. During his German panzer career, he recorded at least 138 confirmed tank kills (Soviet & Allied), 132 anti-tank gun kills, and destroyed hundreds of trucks, carriers, artillery, and hundred at least of Soviet and Allied personnel. Wittmann was innovative and completely focused on the fight. He was a calm, cool headed commander who controlled his fears. He was skilled and dangerous, capable of killing anything on the battlefield. He was a combat leader who trained, looked out for, and kept his men motivated. A tank crew is all about teamwork, and he knew this better than anyone. He was an accomplished armor combat commander, a skilled tactician, and a deadly, indomitable, worthy adversary. That is why he is studied even today by most armor forces and training commands.

Michael Wittmann was born on 22 April 1914 in Vogelthal, Bavaria, Germany. In 1934, he joined the German Army. In October 1936, Wittmann transferred and joined the Waffen SS. He fit in well with this ardent, if not fanatical organization, and on 5 April 1937, he was assigned to the regiment, later division Leibstandarte SS Adolph Hitler (LSSAH). A year later, he participated in the German annexation of Austria and the occupation of the Sudetenland. Following these events, Michael Wittmann made the decision to official join Hitler’s Nazi Party.

The massive invasion of Russia was one of Hitler’s most important decisions. As a consequence of this Operation Barbarossa, Wittmann's unit was transferred to the Eastern Front in the spring of 1941.Wittmann was assigned to the elite SS Panzer Regiment 1, an armor, where he initially commanded a StuG III assault gun/tank destroyer, later transferring to a Panzer III medium tank. By 1943, based on his outstanding performance, he received command of a coveted Tiger I tank, unquestionable the most capable and feared tank in the world. By Operation Citadel, the Battle of Kursk, he was a platoon leader in charge of four Tiger tanks. Attached to the LSSAH, Wittmann's platoon of Tigers reinforced the division's reconnaissance battalion to screen the division's left flank. His four Tigers were credited with destroying a large number of Soviet tanks. Of note was his Tiger surviving a high-speed collision with a burning Russian T-34 tank.

On 14 January 1944, in recognition for his superlative service, Wittmann was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The presentation was made by his divisional commander SS-Oberfuhrer Theodor Wisch, who in addition, nominated Wittmann for the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. Wittmann was awarded the Oak Leaves on 30 January for the destruction of 117 tanks, making him only the 380th member of the German armed forces to receive this rare award. Wittmann received the award from Adolf Hitler personally at the Wolf's Lair, Hitler's headquarters in Rastenburg, on 2 February 1944. He was then given orders which moved him to France, in expectation of the coming invasion by the western Allies.

Following D-Day the Allies struggled to expand their Normandy bridgehead against desperate German counter-attacks. British efforts focused on Operation Goodwood, a major armored offensive southwest of Caen. On Tuesday 13 Jun 1944, the British 7th Armoured Division “The Desert Rats” moved its Cromwell and Sherman tanks through the French village of Villers-Bocage on Route Nationale 175 toward the eastern high ground. Watching from Hill 213 on the village outskirts was Waffen SS 1st Lieutenant (SS-Obersturmfuhrer) Michael Wittmann. Following the news of the D-Day landings, he had arrived with a platoon of his company’s (2 Kompanie, SS Panzer Abteilung 101) Tigers the night before. A German “Abteilung” (heavy tank battalion) normally consisted of 45 tanks divided into three companies of 14 each (4 per platoon with 2 as Co HQ), with 3 in the Bn HQ element. The past week of rapid road march (from Gournay at 0200 on 7 June via Paris toward Normandy) had resulted in many Tiger mechanical breakdowns. This 7-13 June evolution covered some 250 miles, evading Allied air attacks. By dawn on 13 June, 6 Tigers (the first had arrived late the night before) of the second company were in their combat assembly area just east of Villers-Bocage (10 more Tigers of the first company were ten miles further east). Shortly after dawn, Wittmann and the lead element of Tigers noticed the British armor moving east toward Caen. As the British column briefly halted, hemmed in with a tree-lined hedge on one side and an embankment and low wall on the other, Wittmann sensed a unique opportunity. He climbed into Tiger 222 (his own Tiger was broken down so he took that of Unterscharfuhrer Kurt Sowa) and ordered it forward into action at 0900. Breaking cover and racing parallel toward the British column 50 yards away, he had Corporal Woll, his gunner, place their first two 88mm high velocity rounds into two British tanks (one a Sherman Firefly) at the front of the column. They next destroyed a Cromwell tank at the rear of the formation. With these vehicles destroyed and in flames, the British column was hemmed in, unable to move. Wittman’s Tiger now methodically slammed rounds into the flanks of the vulnerable British tanks, half-tracks, and Bren carriers. Among these were the command element of the 4th County of Yeomanry Regiment, XXX Corps, 7th Armoured Division. Other German Tigers of Abteilung 101 had now joined Wittmann. Villers-Bocage and 13 June 1944 marked one of the very worst days and single actions for any British tank unit in WWII. Over 25 British tanks and armored vehicles had been destroyed. “Operation Goodwood” had ground to a halt, with total British losses in Sherman tanks exceeding 400. Despite an eventual stubborn rear-guard action by British infantry and anti-tank guns, 7th Armoured Division was forced to retreat from Villers-Bocage to the west. The German defense at Caen (which British Field Marshall Montgomery had predicted would fall on D-Day) held out for over a month. For his tenacious actions, Michael Wittman was promoted by the Fuhrer and awarded the Swords to his Knight’s Cross. Villers-Bocage proved that in a desperate situation, one brave, innovative leader and his faithful small team can make a real difference.

Captain (SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer) Michael Wittmann’s stellar “leading tank ace” reputation was short lived. On 8 August 1944, Wittmann, his four man crew, and their Tiger (numbered 007) were destroyed outside Cintheaux, France, as they (among seven Tigers) charged across an open field parallel to the Caen-Falaise road toward Gaumesnil and a line of British Shermans to the east and Canadian Shermans to the west. Their Tiger took two successive hits from a British VC Firefly tank (an up-gunned 17-pounder or 76.2mm Sherman), commanded by Sergeant Gordon and his gunner, Trooper Joe Ekins, of No. 3 Troop, A Squadron, Northamptonshire Yeomanry. This engagement alone, in which Ekins destroyed three (& possibly four) Tigers, made him the leading British “Tiger Killer” of WWII. By this date, and certainly highlighted by this event, the Battle for Normandy was a decisive Allied victory. The German hero of Villers-Bocage was now a legend, remembered by fellow tankers, tacticians and military historians as the leading tank ace of history (138 tanks & 132 anti-tank gun kills). No one epitomized the mission of armor better than Wittmann: “To close with and destroy the enemy using firepower, maneuver, and shock effect.”

On 8 August 1944, Anglo-Canadian forces launched Operation Totalize. Under the cover of darkness, British and Canadian tanks and soldiers seized the tactically important high ground near the town of Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil. Here they paused, awaiting an aerial bombardment that would signal the next phase of the attack. Unaware of the reason the Allied forces had halted, Kurt Meyer, of the SS Hitlerjugend Division, ordered elements of his command to counterattack and recapture the high ground.

Wittmann led a group of seven Tiger tanks, from the Heavy SS-Panzer Battalion 101. Supported by additional tanks and infantry, his group of Tigers, crossing open terrain towards the high ground, was ambushed by tanks from "A" Squadron 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry and "B" Squadron 144th Regiment Royal Armoured Corps sited to the right or northeast. Also part of this ambush were the Canadians of "A" Squadron Sherbrooke Fusilier Regiment, situated broadside to the left or west. During the ambush, Allied shells fired from either the British or Canadian tanks penetrated the hull of Wittmann's Tiger, igniting the ammunition. The resulting explosion and fire engulfed the tank and blew off the turret, killing Wittmann and his entire crew immediately.

The dead German crewmembers of the destroyed Tiger were buried alongside the road north to Caen in an unmarked grave. In 1983, the German war graves commission located the burial site. Michael Wittmann, and his Tiger 007 crew, were reinterred together at the La Cambe German war cemetery in Normandy, France.

Thus ended the story of Germany’s top WWII tank ace, a legend in tactical audacity and courage.

Tuesday, June 4th

Decisive American WWII Victory –

Facts & Reflections that Humble Me

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

“by 1024…the Japanese were certain they had won the battle and the war. This was their high tide of victory. #Japan had been on top…(but) by 1030, her carriers were flaming death.”

“…the threescore young aviators who met flaming death that day in reversing the verdict of battle. Think of them … every Fourth of June. They and their comrades who survived changed the whole course of the Pacific War.”

Samuel Eliot Morrison,

The definitive WWII US Naval Historian,

of the men of USS Enterprise, USS Hornet,

USS Yorktown and Midway’s Marine Air

Group 22 (with old Brewster Buffalos).

"Midway was the most stunning and decisive blow in the history of naval warfare." - John Keegan, Military Historian

- all 15 of Hornet's VT-8 torpedo planes were shot down (old TBD Devastators)

- 12 of 14 of Enterprise’s VT-6 torpedo planes were shot down (Devastators)

- 10 of 12 of Yorktown’s VT-3 torpedo planes were shot down (Devastators)

- and 15 Marine Corps VMF-221 (of MAG 22) fighters were shot down (F2A-3 Buffaloes)

Bottom line: Of the 41 American Devastators launched against Japs on 4 June, 37 were lost.

All three US Navy torpedo squadrons (VT-8, VT-6, & VT-3) were destroyed.

American sacrifice consumed Jap fighters and gave US dive bombers free rein for attack.

Jap carrier losses of 4 June 1942 (all four ships had attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941):

(note: Admiral Nimitz kept a photo of all six behind his desk & crossed them off as sunk).

- Akagi (Red Castle): sunk by 2 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Kaga (Increased Joy): sunk by 4 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Hiryu (Flying Dragon): sunk by 4 bombs from Enterprise (Dauntless SBDs)

- Soryu (Green Dragon): sunk by 3 bombs from Yorktown (Dauntless SBDs)

Final American revenge - of the two remaining Jap carriers that had attacked Pearl Harbor:

- Shokaku (Flying Crane): sunk 19 June 1944, Philippine Sea, 4 torpedoes, USS Cavalla.

- Zuikaku (Lucky Crane): sunk (25 October 1944, Leyte Gulf) by 9 bombs, 7 torpedoes from
USN aircraft. This was final American “payback” for Pearl Harbor.

The Battle of Midway

One of Japan’s main goals during World War II was to remove the United States as a Pacific power in order to gain territory in East Asia and the southwest Pacific islands. Japan hoped to defeat the US Pacific Fleet and use Midway as a base to attack Pearl Harbor, securing dominance in the region and then forcing a negotiated peace.

Primary Image: The USS Yorktown is hit on the port side by a torpedo launched from a plane off the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu during the Battle of Midway on June 4, 1942. (Image: National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-414423.)


The United States was aware that the Japanese were planning an attack in the Pacific (on a location the Japanese code-named “AF”) because Navy cryptanalysts had begun breaking Japanese communication codes in early 1942. The attack location and time were confirmed when the American base at Midway sent out a false message that it was short of fresh water. Japan then sent a message that “AF” was short of fresh water, confirming that the location for the attack was the base at Midway. Station Hypo (where the cryptanalysts were based in Hawaii) was able to also give the date (June 4 or 5) and the order of battle of the Imperial Japanese Navy.


Early on the morning of June 4, aircraft from four Japanese aircraft carriers attacked and severely damaged the US base on Midway. Unbeknownst to the Japanese, the US carrier forces were just to the east of the island and ready for battle. After their initial attacks, the Japanese aircraft headed back to their carriers to rearm and refuel. While the aircraft were returning, the Japanese navy became aware of the presence of US naval forces in the area.

TBD Devastator torpedo-bombers and SBD Dauntless dive-bombers from the USS Enterprise, USS Hornet, and USS Yorktown attacked the Japanese fleet. The Japanese carriers Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu were hit, set ablaze, and abandoned. Hiryu, the only surviving Japanese carrier, responded with two waves of attacks—both times bombing the USS Yorktown, leaving it severely damaged but still afloat. (A Japanese submarine later sank the Yorktown on June 7.) On the afternoon of June 4, a USS Yorktown scout plane located the Hiryu, and the Enterprise sent dive-bombers to attack. That attack left the Hiryu burning and without the ability to launch aircraft before it finally sank.

Over the next two days, the US troops at sea and on Midway continued their attacks, forcing the Japanese to abandon the battle and retreat. The Japanese lost approximately 3,057 men, four carriers, one cruiser, and hundreds of aircraft, while the United States lost approximately 362 men, one carrier, one destroyer, and 144 aircraft.

This critical US victory stopped the growth of Japan in the Pacific and put the United States in a position to begin shrinking the Japanese empire through a years-long series of island-hopping invasions and several even larger naval battles.

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles...

Thursday, June 6th

D-Day: Der Langst Tag - The Longest

- Normandy, France, 6 June 1944

by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

“… the first 24 hours of the invasion will be decisive … the fate of #Germany depends on the outcome … for the Allies, as well as Germany, it will be the longest day.” Erwin Rommel

“This operation is not being planned with any alternatives. This operation is planned as a victory, and that’s the way it’s going to be. We’re going down there, and we’re throwing everything we have into it, and we’re going to make it a success.” General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Senior Allied Commander, #DDay

“There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.'” General George S. Patton, Jr. to his troops on June 5, 1944

It has been 75 years. The largest amphibious invasion ever launched was done on this day in 1944. It was accomplished by the dedicated efforts of American, British, Canadian and other Allies against Adolph Hitler’s Nazi “Festung Europa” (Fortress Europe). The Allies of World War II launched this huge invasion when they assaulted across the English Channel at Normandy, on the northern coast of France. The Allied forces were able to establish a beachhead on German-occupied French soil. Officially, the Allied landings were called Operation Overlord. The term “D-Day” was simply the first day of the landing, with each successive day being called D+1, D+2. etc.

The main Allied land forces came from the United States, Britain, and Canada. There were also Free French forces which played an important political role in stating that free French were liberating Nazi-occupied France. In addition to this, there were smaller Allied contingents that landed later: Polish forces and contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece and the Netherlands. These all contributed to the Allied ground campaign. They also provided selective air and naval support alongside Allied elements of the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Kicking off the D-Day invasion at Normandy were overnight parachute and glider landings, massive air attacks and naval bombardments. The first wave of Allied combat troops faced the heaviest and most dangerous German fire, particularly on “Bloody Omaha”. All of the first waves landed before and at daybreak in the early morning hours. The main amphibious landings commenced on five key beaches running from west to east on the Normandy beaches. These were codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. US combat troops landed on Omaha and Utah, Britain landing on Gold and Sword and Canada landing on Juno. During the second evening night, the remaining elements of the airborne divisions landed. The main D-Day forces sailed from bases on the south coast of England, particularly Portsmouth.

The Planning for D-Day was incredible. Allied forces rehearsed months before the invasion. On 28 April 1944, in south Devon on the English coast, 749 U.S. soldiers and sailors were killed when German E-boats using torpedoes & guns surprised one of these landing exercises.

For months prior to D-Day, Allied forces conducted a deception operation, Operation Fortitude (centered around Gen Patton), aimed at misleading the Germans with respect to the place and date of the landings. This was successful as the Germans initially believed that Normandy was a diversionary attack.

From a weather standpoint, only ten days a month were suitable for landings. A full moon was needed both for illumination during the hours of darkness and for the spring tide. These served to illuminate navigational landmarks for the crews of aircraft, gliders and landing craft, and to expose defensive obstacles placed by the Germans in the surf on the approaches to the beaches. A full moon occurred on 6 June. The weather was mixed. The crucial pre-invasion meeting was held on 5 June. Eisenhower's chief meteorologist (British Group Captain J.M. Stagg) forecast a brief improvement for 6 June. British General Bernard Montgomery and Eisenhower's Chief of Staff General Walter Bedell Smith wished to proceed. On the strength of Stagg's forecast, Eisenhower ordered the invasion to proceed with the short comment: “Gentlemen, we’ll go for it.”

Poor weather played a key factor in the Germans believing that the invasion would not take place at this time. Some German units stood down and many senior officers were away for the weekend. One key German commander, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, took a few days' leave to return to Germany to celebrate his wife's birthday. Dozens of German division, regimental and battalion commanders were away from their posts conducting war games.

The actual Codenames for D-Day are fascinating with Overlord assigned to the establishment of a large-scale Allied seizure of the Normandy portion of France. Stated at the D-Day Museum:

“Operation Overlord was the codename for the Allied invasion of northwest Europe. The assault phase of Operation Overlord was known as Operation Neptune. Operation Neptune began on D-Day (6 June 1944) and ended on 30 June 1944. By this time, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Operation Overlord also began on D-Day, and continued until Allied forces crossed the River Seine on August 1944.”

Of note regarding the stiff German defense was the Normandy city of Caen. It was to be seized the first day of the invasion, but held out until late July despite repeated Allied attacks.

Here is a general list of the major units landed on D-Day (6 June 1944).

• British 3rd Infantry Division & British 27th Armoured Brigade.

• 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade

• British XXX Corps, British 50th Infantry Division and British 8th Armoured Brigade.[20]

• British 79th Armoured Division

• U.S. V Corps, U.S. 1st Infantry Division and U.S. 29th Infantry Division.

• U.S. VII Corps, U.S. 4th Infantry Division, U.S. 101st Airborne Division, U.S. 82nd Airborne Division.

The Allied total number of troops landed on D-Day was approximately 156,000, roughly half American and the other half from the Commonwealth nations. The Normandy area was defended by an estimated 50,000 German troops.

Following North Africa, Sicily and Italy, D-Day at Normandy, France, was a huge step in the long, hard struggle that finally brought the Anglo-American armies deep into Germany. Roosevelt and Churchill were convinced that a cross-Channel landing was the way to defeat Nazi Germany. Soon, just over a month following the D-Day landings, German Generals tried to kill Hitler with a bomb. It was now clear that they thought Hitler’s Nazi reign of terror also had to end.

So today, these 75 years later, our duty is to remember and pass on their story to future generations. The important thing for all of us to do who cherish freedom, is to remember and give thanks for their service and sacrifice. We must make what they accomplished on our behalf relevant and cherished by those who come after us. It is the legacy of all freedom loving peoples.

God bless their memory for the tremendous victory they achieved.

“They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt

"I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory! Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking." General Dwight D Eisenhower

"These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc. These are the men who took the cliffs. These are the champions who helped free a continent. These are the heroes who helped end a war." President Ronald Reagan

Stay tuned for more Salute Target articles...

Monday, June 3rd

JewishChristian Friendship in Peac

Introduction by Col Mike Howard US Marines (Ret)

America and #Israel have always been blessed by a special friendship. This started in the very beginning when the first #Jewish families arrived in America in 1658. These first fifteen Spanish and Portuguese families arrived via Curacau and Surinam. They founded the Touro Synagogue of Congregation Jeshuat Israel, in Newport, Rhode Island. It was here on the morning of 17 August 1790, that George Washington (as first President) and Thomas Jefferson (Secretary of State) visited this first Jewish synagogue in America. Together, they affirmed the Jewish people being a part of the new nation.

“May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.” G. Washington

This would again be affirmed on 14 May 1948, when Harry Truman, President of the U.S., ensured that America was the first nation to recognize the new State of Israel.

I was reminded of this special bond of friendship in February 2003, when I stood on Kuwait soil and received the first four Israel Defense Force Armored D-9 ‘Dubi’ (Teddy Bear) Bulldozers to assist us on our soon to be launched march north to Baghdad. These were the first of many more, and saved countless American lives in battles such as Nasiriyah, Baghdad, Najaf and Fallujah.

“Those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.” Genesis 12:1-3

This wonderful article clearly expresses this ongoing friendship …

The New Jewish-Christian Amity

Social changes lead to a confluence of worldviews between the Orthodox and the Evangelical.

By Abigail Shrier

Sept. 7, 2018

Soon after meeting the fellow who would become my best friend in law school, I confessed something to him: I’m pro-Israel. For Orthodox Jews, this allegiance isn’t simply a matter of politics. As close to my heart as any article of faith is the land God granted Abraham with the promise to multiply his descendants like stars in the sky.

I had reason to be nervous about broaching the subject. I’d spent the previous two years, 2000-02, as a graduate student in Europe, a period that coincided with the second intifada. I learned then—with every fire-bombed synagogue in France and the cries of the rabble that stormed Oxford carrying Israeli flags defaced with swastikas—that otherwise sensible people can transmogrify when the topic of Israel arises.

My new friend, one of only two Southern Baptists I’d known, let out a barking laugh. The North Carolina church where he’d worshiped as an undergraduate, he told me, had two flags: One American, the other Israeli. Supporting and loving Israel was part of his faith, too.

This was my introduction to the new friendship between Orthodox Jews and religious Christians. American evangelical Christians’ affinity for Israel and Jews is decades old. But the affection long went unrequited. Only a negligible percentage of Jews were Orthodox, and Jews of all denominations viewed religious Christians’ enthusiasm for them with suspicion, uncomfortable with its perceived predication on Jews’ conversion.

In 1999 the Southern Baptist International Mission Board published a prayer book that directed its practitioners to inform Jewish friends that they could accept Jesus Christ and remain Jewish. A coalition of leaders of all major rabbinical seminaries, Orthodox included, was so bothered by this deception that it sent a letter to the Southern Baptist president, Rev. Paige Patterson, asking him to stop. If you like us only because you’re trying to trick us into conversion or hope we will meet a fiery end—so the thinking went—you can take your friendship somewhere else.

In any case, we Jews didn’t need the Southern Baptists. America has long been a tolerant place, where Jews have enjoyed full acceptance. Israel benefited from broad bipartisan political support. If Jews found Christians’ conversion attempts or end-of-days plans disconcerting, we had other friends to choose from.

But over the past several decades, the American Jewish community has experienced profound demographic change. Reform and Conservative Jews have few children (1.7 births per woman), attend synagogue less often, increasingly intermarry with non-Jews, are less supportive of Israel, and are generally becoming less distinguishable from non-Jewish progressives.

Amid this decline, Orthodox Jews have staged an unlikely comeback. After near-eradication in Hitler’s Europe and predictions of their disappearance in the 1950s, they now make up 10% of the American Jewish population. That may not sound like much, but as Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin noted in Mosaic magazine last year, “because of their significantly higher fertility, especially when contrasted with the below-replacement birthrates among other, larger sectors of the community, they are on pace to double their share every generation.”

When we talk about American Jews, we often think of loyal Democrats who prefer the cultural aspects of Judaism to the religious strictures. I grew up in the Conservative movement, a version of Judaism in which observance is generally less strict and more egalitarian than Orthodoxy. I loved our synagogue, camps and schools. But year by year I watched with dismay as traditionalism and Torah too often gave way to political progressivism. There are still religiously committed Jews of liberal denominations—but too few. Most are dissolving into the waters of a secular America that, by and large, describes itself as having no religion at all.

Orthodox Jews may one day become the majority of all affiliated American Jews. And, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, they “more closely resemble white evangelical Protestants than they resemble other U.S. Jews.”

In July the New York Times published an interactive online map, displaying granular detail of voting precinct results from the 2016 presidential election. I searched out many of the Orthodox neighborhoods of the New York area: Borough Park, Brooklyn; Rockaway, Queens; Lawrence and Woodmere, Long Island; Monsey, N.Y.; Ocean Township, Lakewood, and Paramus, N.J. I know people from many of those places, and the map confirmed what I suspected: They may talk like New Yorkers, but they vote like Nebraskans.

This is new. In 2000 most Jews—Orthodox included—still faithfully voted Democrat, preferring Gore-Lieberman to Bush-Cheney. But by Mr. Bush’s second term, the Orthodox communities had shifted rightward, partly because of the second intifada, which made them more grateful for Christian Zionism. They’ve never really looked back. According to the AJC Survey of American Jewish Opinion 2017, Orthodox Jews preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton by a margin of 2 to 1.

Unlike secular and non-Orthodox Jews, who still tend to view religious Christians’ affection with suspicion, Orthodox Jews are less concerned by the theological reasons for the support. Whether it stems from eschatology or God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12 (“I will bless those who bless you and curse him who curses you”), we simply appreciate the friendship. As Ambassador David Friedman noted at the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, evangelical Christians “support Israel with much greater fervor and devotion than many in the Jewish community.”

When Pew reported last year that a minority of American Jews view evangelical Christians favorably, the Coalition for Jewish Values, a right-wing political organization of Orthodox rabbis, released a statement: “When people wish us well in this world, observant Jews recognize that this is generally a good thing, and trust that God knows how to sort everything out in the next.” This particular sentiment is widely held by Orthodox Jews: critiquing Christians’ theology isn’t our business, and God only knows what they’d make of ours. As for conversion to Christianity, it is all but unheard of among Orthodox Jews.

At a time when kindness and common cause can seem so hard to come by in America, this growing fellow-feeling is something to celebrate. Evangelical Christians and Orthodox Jews send our children to religious schools, attend regular prayer services, are leery of secular universities that would teach our children to deplore our values, and fear government intrusions into our religious life. It is, one might say, a match made in heaven. When former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke last year to a packed sanctuary at my synagogue, the largest Orthodox congregation in the Western United States, he received a standing ovation.

I could hardly accuse George Washington of lacking vision for the country he helped found. But in 1790, he wrote a letter to the Jews of Newport, R.I., in which he offered this blessing: “May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.” With this friendship, America has done much better than that.

Ms. Shrier is a writer living in Los Angeles.

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Monday, June 3rd

Part 2 An Israeli Family Revisits

On November 24, 1940, Slovakia signed the Tripartite Pact with Hitler. Within months, Germany asked the new pro-Nazi Slovak Republic to join in their invasion of Poland. From 1942 to 1944 the Slovak 1st Division, attached to German units on the Eastern Front, was kept on the front-line, fighting the Russians in the Caucasus area and later in the southern Ukraine. They would pay a heavy price for fighting alongside Hitler.

Back in Slovakia, most Slovak Jews fled to the British Mandate in Palestine. By September 1941, the ‘Jewish Code’ (resembling the Nazi Nuremberg Laws) was passed requiring Jews to wear yellow Star of David armbands which prohibited them from intermarriage, government service, and most jobs. Their properties were systematically vandalized and seized. By October 1941, some 15,000 Jews were rounded up in Bratislava and sent to labor, concentration, and eventually extermination camps. The large scale official deportations of Jews from Slovakia started on March 25, 1942. Prior to this, some 58,000 Jews had already been deported. The Hlinka Guard (with training from the German SS) headed increasing deportations of Slovak Jews directly to the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz. Throughout 1942-1945, the Hlinka Guard would regularly make round ups of Jews in the spring and summer months. Deportation of the Jews by Hlinka Guards was also motivated by the lucrative confiscation of Jewish homes, farms, factories and other property. These were distributed by the Hlinka Guards and other government agencies among themselves. Over the course of time, the Hlinka guardsmen greatly prospered financially but their zeal for stolen wealth never abated. For the 354,000 Jews in the former Czechloslovakia, most were killed in the Holocaust. For the Jews of Topolcany, almost all were evicted from their homes by pro-Nazi Slovaks and taken to the nearby train station of Novaky, where they were shipped to ‘Operation Reinhard’ (named for Nazi SS overseer for Jewish extermination Reinhard Heydrich) camps, primarily Auschwitz. Heydrich and Adolph Eichmann had orchestrated Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’ at the Wannsee Conference outside Berlin on 20 January 1942. One result of this was that Slovakia would pay Germany the equivalent of 500 Nazi Reichmarks per Jew deported from Slovakia. Some Jews managed to avoid Nazi Einsatzgruppe H of the Sicherheitspolizei, the SD, and Slovak collaborators by hiding for the duration of the war in the Carpathian Mountains to the east.

Later in the war, 8 German Wehrmacht divisions (half of them SS) would try to hold Slovakia against the Russians. They, and their Slovak collaborators, were eventually crushed by the Spring of 1945. Soviet General Malinovsky and his Russian forces marched into Bretaslava on April 4, 1945. Josef Tizo was soon captured by the US Army while escaping to Austria, returned to Slovakia, and tried and hung in Bretaslava in 1947.

In all, German and Slovak authorities deported about 71,500 Jews from Slovakia; about 65,000 of them were murdered or died in concentration camps. The overall figures are inexact, partly because many Jews did not identify themselves, but it is conservatively estimated that at least 105,000 Slovak Jews, or 77% of their prewar population, died during World War II. Slovakia had played a sad, ruthless roll in Hitler’s Final Solution for the extermination of the Jewish people.

Topolcany was forever changed by the horrible events of World War II. The Jewish culture that had helped build it was destroyed, and the bitter after affects continued because of Nazi-collaboration by Slovaks in the crimes committed against the Jews. It would take generations for the guilt, hatred, accusations and recriminations to take place and subside. But Jews were not a part of this sordid process. Those who remained at all connected by history were now alive and thriving in the new state of Israel. Like David Noy changing his name from Neumann in 1972, they had left the past behind them.

Most of Topolcany’s pre-WWII businesses had been owned by Jews, but were taken over by Slovaks during the war. Of the estimated 3,200 Jews in Topolcany prior to WWII, a mere 550 who hid out among the countryside or immigrated to Israel, survived. Those Jews who survived the Holocaust and returned to their homes found themselves strangers in their native town, without property and in many cases without citizenship. Because most of the Jews in Topolcany spoke Hungarian or German, they had declared their ethnicity in the last pre-war Czechoslovak census as Magyar or German rather than Jewish or Slovak. After World War II, most Hungarian and German speakers, both Jews and Christians, were expelled. The last Jews that survived the war fled after the Topolcany pogrom of September 24, 1945. All the remaining Jewish population were forced to emigrate.

Today, Topolcany is predominantly inhabited by Slovaks, with small minorities of Romany (Gypsies) and Hungarians. In 2004-05 there were also a number of Czechs and Poles living in the town, as Topolcany was the host of a joint Slovak-Czech-Polish military operation intended to prepare Slovakia for joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The majority of the population is now Roman Catholic (there are two churches of this denomination including one on the central square), and there are also a minority of Protestants (one church). Sadly, the historic Jewish synagogue was destroyed by fire during World War II.

What makes this WWII tragedy into a reason for hope, is that the people of Topolcany, Slovakia, have finally come to terms with their horrific past. The fact that they would reach out to Israel and invite the descendants of Jewish families that had once lived among them. They desired reconciliation and restoration from the sins of their fathers and grandfathers. They solemnly accompanied these Israelis to the ancient Jewish cemeteries and helped them in repainting the lettering of the Hebrew headstones. They broke bread and spent time in new friendship and fellowship.

The past cannot be undone, but it can be remembered.

The Holocaust (Shoah in Hebrew) must always be remembered.

Today there is a special, heartfelt tie between Moshav Avihail and Topolcany, And it has grown between Israel and Slovakia.

Yes, it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

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Monday, June 3rd

Part 1 An Israeli Family Revisits

Col Michael C. Howard US Marines (Ret)

An #Israeli Family, the Noys (originally Neumann) of Moshav Avihail, Retraces its Jewish WWII #Holocaust past History in Slovakia, at the heartfelt invitation of a special town seeking closure. As the old Jewish saying goes: “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”

I have traveled the world in my 32 years of US Marine service, but this is the most beautiful and powerful story I’ve ever heard.

It begins in an Italian restaurant off of Embassy Row in Washington D.C. where I’ve been staying at the Fairfax Hotel the past week courtesy of the Israeli Embassy and the fine folks at the Israeli company MIFRAM, headquartered north of Haifa. It is early October 2018. I am solid friends with these folks as they are directly connected with my dear IDF combat engineer buddies. Together they helped me get many badly needed D-9R armored combat dozers into Kuwait for our March-April 2003 500 kilometer assault on Baghdad for the opening of Operation Iraqi Freedom. What I love and cherish about Israel and the Jewish people are their sense of family, teamwork and faithfulness. Despite being a ‘Gentile Zionist’ (I do have very old Sephardic Jewish blood from Spain), I feel as if I have been grafted into the family. Yes, America has one solid ally we can always count on, and that is Israel. All one has to do is simply look at the history of United Nations votes. Israel has a long history and memory, and they remember America and the steadfast righteous Gentile Harry Truman being there for them on the crucial UN vote of 1947. “Give ‘em Hell Harry” defied the Pentagon & State Department in first recognizing Israel. I can’t help but think of Genesis 12:1-3 “… those who bless you will be blessed.”

I am sitting at a quiet table with my dear friend David Noy, and we are sipping his favorite red wine: Nero De Avola from Sicily. It has been a good week at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exposition. I have been working with MIFRAM in the Israel Pavilion and connecting with old US Marine and Army buddies who fought in Iraq. It was MIFRAM barriers and other security products that saved a lot of our US troops from VBIEDs. We have also made new friends with several former German fighter pilots from their AUSA area. It has been good sharing history, culture, religion, art, music, equipment, politics, business and many other mutual interests. My favorite topic was comparing tactics in the Battle of Britain … I have always liked the Bf-109 Emil while our German friends prefer the Spitfire! And both German & Israeli pilots have flown Russian MIG-21s and MIG-29s (courtesy of Arab Air Forces and former east Germany) so there is much maneuvering with the hands. Yes, it has been a good conference.

I have known David for a long time. I met him through a good mutual friend right after I returned from Iraq a second time and retired. We have met David in Israel, and he and his bride Esti have visited us outside Portland, Oregon. We have talked about everything I can imagine … but tonight is a special time. David has a unique family story and trip to share with me.

It is about his family surviving the Holocaust, or as the Israelis say in Hebrew, The Shoah. David is a quiet, precise, no-nonsense, happy warrior. A man of the utmost character and professionalism, I know something important is comping when he takes a long sip of wine and leans across the table to say that he wants to share a very personal story of family WWII heritage with me.

David and the entire Noy family had recently been invited to come to Slovakia. Their original name was Neumann but he and his brothers “Hebrew-ized” it in 1972 when he joined the Israel Air Force & finished flight school. David’s father, Joseph Eugene Neumann, came to Israel in 1939, just as Europe was literally going to hell at the hands of the Nazis. He said goodbye to his father Meir Neumann and left his entire family, never to be seen again. All but one would be among the estimated 350,000 Jews of this region who were slaughtered in German death camps. One distant aunt would survive Auschwitz.

The invite was from the town of Topolcany, Slovakia, a town of about 28,000 located in western Slovakia, about an hour and a half drive to the northeast of Bratislava, the Slovakian capitol. This unique invitation to Jews in Israel with a background traced to Topolcany resulted in a series of trips being made by the extended Noy Family from Israel to Slovakia in 1996, 2013, 2015, and 2018.

Topolcany was founded in the 9th century. The actual name comes from both the Slovak word ‘topol’ meaning Poplar tree (those who live among the Poplar groves) and the Old Slavonic word ‘topol’ meaning ‘hot’ (referring to the then nearby hot springs). From the beginning, there appears to have been a Jewish population in this town and area. By Jewish law it takes ten families to make a synagogue, and Topolcany had one until the Nazis and World War II. There is confirmation in cemeteries and other records and artifacts that Jews were a growing indigenous ethnic group by the 11th century. By the 14th century there were an estimated 800 Jews living in the nearby capitol Bratislava.. Located on the western bank of the Nitra River, Topolcany was established as a regional market center throughout most of the Middle-Ages (up through 1500). As a regional crossroads of trade routes, the Jewish population there thrived on trade, banking and financing.

During much of its history, Topolcany weathered the transitions from one regional feudal ruler to the next. It was ethnically mixed. Being in the lowland, the town was never able to build effective walls for defense but its historic Topolcany Castle was built about 18 kilometers northwest of the town in the 1300s. This challenging history continued in the 16th and 17th centuries. Because the town was only 60 km north of the border between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, Topolcany was often raided by the Ottoman Turks during the Ottoman wars in Europe. Specific threats were in the years 1599 and 1643, when many citizens were killed or taken into slavery by the Moslems.

The Slovak urban population consisted mainly of Carpathian Germans, Jews and Magyars. More Jews immigrated to the town during the 16th-18th centuries. This ethnic mix came to an end in the first part of the 20th century, as industrialization attracted Slovaks from the surrounding areas and the number of Magyars decreased after the creation of Czechoslovakia following World War I.

With the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party, Europe began its inevitable slide into hell throughout the 1930s and 1940s. Czechoslovakia was one of Hitler’s first victims when the German speaking minorities were used as an excuse to carve up the nation and add it to the Nazi Third Reich. A pro-Nazi Slovak Republic was created in March 1939 under President Jozef Tiso, a Catholic priest. On October 29, 1938, he formed the Hlinka Guard as the official internal state para-military security organization to locate, isolate and attack Jews and other ‘domestic enemies of the state’. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, some 5,000 Jews left Topolcany and the region surrounding it before war broke out in 1939.

Continue Reading Part 2 - An Israeli Family Revisits its Holocaust History


Monday, May 27th

Duty - Honor - Country

Armed Forces Day is for those who wear the uniform

Veteran’s Day is for those who wore the uniform

#MemorialDay is for those who never got to take the uniform off.

Introduction & Reflections by Mike Howard, Col, US Marines (Ret). Iraq War Vet.

Americans should always remember this on Memorial Day.

To Veterans, it is something we remember every day. We honor our battle buddies and friends who did not return from being in harm’s way. We remember the stories of service and sacrifice from our veteran fathers and grandfathers.

Since the opening salvos of the American Revolution, nearly 1.2 million American patriots have died in the defense of Liberty. Countless more were wounded in action. Tens of millions more have served honorably, surviving without physical wounds. These numbers, of course, offer no reckoning of the inestimable value of their service or the sacrifices borne by their families.

We acknowledge that the value of Liberty extended to their posterity, to all of us, is priceless.
In May of 1962, retired General Douglas MacArthur addressed the cadets of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, delivering his memorable farewell speech, "Duty, Honor and Country." As a WWI, WWII & Korean War veteran, he described the legions of uniformed American patriots as follows: "Their story is known to all of you. It is the story of the American man at arms. My estimate of him was formed on the battlefields many, many years ago and has never changed. I regarded him then, as I regard him now, as one of the world's noblest figures -- not only as one of the finest military characters, but also as one of the most stainless."

His name and fame are the birthright of every American citizen. In his youth and strength, his love and loyalty, he gave all that mortality can give. He needs no eulogy from me, or from any other man. He has written his own history and written it in red on his enemy's breast.

But when I think of his patience under adversity, of his courage under fire, and of his modesty in victory, I am filled with an emotion of admiration I cannot put into words. He belongs to history as furnishing one of the greatest examples of successful patriotism. He belongs to posterity as the instructor of future generations in the principles of liberty and freedom. He belongs to the present, to us, by his virtues and by his achievements.

In twenty campaigns, on a hundred battlefields, around a thousand campfires, I have witnessed that enduring fortitude, that patriotic self-abnegation, and that invincible determination which have carved his statue in the hearts of his people.

From one end of the world to the other, he has drained deep the chalice of courage. As I listened to those songs of the glee club, in memory's eye I could see those staggering columns of the First World War, bending under soggy packs on many a weary march, from dripping dusk to drizzling dawn, slogging ankle deep through mire of shell-pocked roads; to form grimly for the attack, blue-lipped, covered with sludge and mud, chilled by the wind and rain, driving home to their objective, and for many, to the judgment seat of God.
I do not know the dignity of their birth, but I do know the glory of their death. They died unquestioning, uncomplaining, with faith in their hearts, and on their lips the hope that we would go on to victory. Always for them: Duty, Honor, Country. Always their blood, and sweat, and tears, as they saw the way and the light.
Duty. Honor. Country … these are not for bargain sale or discount.

Reflect: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13)

Monday, May 20th

World War II Veteran Dies on Honor

World War II Veteran Dies on ‘Honor Flight’ on Return from May 2019 D.C. Trip

Salute to U.S. #Veterans #HonorFlight

"Trained men who will stand and fight are never obsolete. It was not the bowman, but the long bow, not the cavalryman, but the horse, which vanished from the scene. Men - the man, the individual who is the Marine Corps symbol and stock in trade - constitute the one element which never changes."

Col Robert Debs Heinl, 1962

Our Time In Hell

by Lawrence Mascott

Wherever we went, we went together.

Whatever we did we did together.

Whenever we suffered, suffered as one.

Joined together, trained together, sang together.

Of Montezuma, and Tripoli, and all the rest.

Same squad, same ship, same hell, together.

And if one of us needed help, we rose together.

And if one of us were hurt, brought him back together.

And if he died, cried together.

We lived and fought and died together, and for each other.

What is esprit de corps?

Well, now hear this and pass the word:

The word is brotherhood.

Leaving with dignity, in the company of close friends, yea, even brothers, many of whom he'd just met …

Frank Manchel, 95, a WWII US Army Soldier, passed suddenly on his flight home from an all-expenses-paid trip for veterans to the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

Surrounded by fellow patriots and accompanied by his son, Manchel was happy and laughing in the last moments of his life. “It was almost instantaneous,” said Dave Smith, founder of Honor Flight San Diego. “He was laughing, chatting, having a good time — and then he collapsed.” His son is a physician, and he and another on board attempted to revive Manchel with no success.
“My father’s passing was the ending to the most amazing weekend, surrounded by his newest best friends,” Dr. Bruce Manchel said in a statement on Monday. “We thank all of you — Honor Flight San Diego, American Airlines, San Diego International Airport, friends, and supporters for your concern and for allowing the weekend to be so special for all of us to share together.”
San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, daughter of another veteran on board, led the entire plane in a chorus of “God Bless America” in remembrance. Manchel was shrouded in an American flag, and his fellow heroes saluted him as they disembarked.

Manchel is the seventh veteran to have died on the trips provided by the Honor Flight organization. “We know this is a potential situation,” said Smith. “We want to honor these veterans, but this is one of our worst fears that this might happen. We do everything we can to make sure these veterans are safe.”

Zimmerman had nothing but praise for Manchel and the way he was treated. “He was 100 percent engaged, proud, humble — as these veterans are,” she said. “You could just tell how proud they all were of him. It was just wonderful, a loving, loving family.”

An Honor Flight is conducted by non-profit organizations dedicated to transporting as many United States military veterans as possible to see the memorials of the respective war(s) they fought in Washington, DC, at no cost to the veterans. Currently these organizations are focused on bringing veterans of World War II to the National World War II Memorial, and any veteran with a terminal illness to see the memorial of the war they fought in. Organizers plan to "naturally transition" their programs to focus on veterans of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and subsequent wars as the veterans of those wars get older.[1][2]

Honor flights arrive at all three of the Washington's area airports: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Washington Dulles International Airport. The veterans are generally escorted by volunteer guardians, who help them on the flight and around DC After landing, the taxiing airplane may be saluted by fire trucks,[3][4] and passengers are often met by cheering crowds in DC or upon their return flight home.
The Honor Flight Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which works as an umbrella organization with local chapters and various subgroups.

The Honor Flight Network reports that it has flown over 159,000 veterans to the Washington, DC, memorials since 2005]


The network was co-founded by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain, and Jeff Miller, a small business owner and son of a WWII veteran. Morse worked in a Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Springfield, Ohio, where he saw many patients who were World War II veterans. After the National World War II Memorial in Washington was completed in 2004, he asked many of his veteran patients if they were going to see it, and most said yes. "I would see my World War II veterans some three, six months later," Morse said, "and I'd ask them if they'd gone to see it. Three hundred of them, and not one of them had been to it. Reality set in. They were never going." Morse offered to fly with two veterans to Washington to see the memorial, and after seeing them break down and cry and graciously accept the offer, he pitched his idea to a local aeroclub of 300 private pilots at a local Air Force base, proposing that the pilots would pay for the flights for the veterans to Washington and personally escort them around the city. Eleven volunteered, and the network was formed; by 2005, a board was formed, funds were raised, and volunteers had joined.

The first honor flight took place in May 2005, when six small planes flew 12 veterans to Washington, DC. Due to high participation, the program began using commercial flights. At the end of 2005, the program had transported 137 veterans to the memorial. In late 2005, Jeff Miller, a dry cleaning company owner in Hendersonville, North Carolina, inspired by Morse's vision, had a similar idea but on a larger scale. Miller, the son of a World War II veteran and nephew of a B-24 bomber pilot who died in the war, had been a charter member of the National World War II Memorial Foundation. Like Morse, Miller lamented that many World War II veterans would be unable to visit the memorial. The seed that Morse had planted grew to a veritable forest of volunteerism, fundraising and goodwill toward the Greatest Generation veterans, who had been too busy building their communities to demand recognition for wartime service. On 23 and 24 September and 4 November 2006, HonorAir flew more than 300 World War II veterans from the Asheville Regional Airport to Washington, free of charge. HonorAir provided everything: a medical doctor and several EMTs, guardians who would attend to the needs of three to four veterans each, tour buses to take them the World War II Memorial and other national memorials, and a box lunch. Ticket agents and passengers lined the ropes as veterans emerged from the charter jets into the terminal. CBS Sunday Morning aired a moving feature about the HonorAir effort in September 2006. Bill Geist updated the story in 2007 because it was a story that was so important to him.

The Springfield group and HonorAir soon merged to form the Honor Flight Network.[6] As of 2014, the Honor Flight Network is still headquartered in Springfield, Ohio.[7] Both Jeff Miller and Earl Morse were awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008 for their extensive work with the program.

“A Few Good Men

“Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? … You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code and loyalty. We use them as the backbone of a life trying to defend something. You use them as a punch-line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the same blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.”

Colonel Nathan R. Jessup USMC

“A Few Good Men”

God Bless the last of our World War II Vets

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