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Posts Tagged ‘military’

Veterans Day salute

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2009

 soldier saluting flag

To those who have served, and to those who serve today:

Thank you.
 


It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
 

Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army

Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005

http://www.pattonhq.com/koreamemorial.html

Thanks, Papa, for your many years of service. I love you and miss you.

On this Veterans Day, please make a contribution to an organization (or two or three!) that supports veterans or active-duty military personnel. Such as Project Valour-IT to help severely wounded soldiers. Please click the donation thermometer on the left below the calendar and help me help the Army team in this friendly inter-service rivalry for a good cause.

The Signaleer has a nice history of Remembrance Day, which begat Armistice Day, which begat Veterans Day, and he includes the classic World War I poem, In Flanders Fields. Worth a visit.

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Support Project Valour-IT

Posted by Richard on November 6, 2009

I've been meaning to sign up for this year's Project Valour-IT fundraiser all week, but haven't gotten around to it. Today, in the wake of the murderous attack at Ft. Hood, I've made time.

Project Valour-IT (Voice Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops) is a project of the wonderful Soldiers' Angels Foundation. The money raised provides voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines with severe injuries — typically hand and arm injuries or amputations.

The annual fundraising event is a friendly competition among teams of bloggers representing the service branches to see who can raise the most money for this wonderful cause. I join the Army team each year, in honor of my late father, Col. Samuel R. Combs, United States Army Signal Corps, who passed away August 16, 2006, at the age of 89, and who the Rocky Mountain News described as epitomizing the Greatest Generation. ("He answered his country's call even before the phone rang" is a phrase I shall always treasure. Thank you again, Bob Denerstein.)

But this year, I'm also doing it for the killed and wounded at Ft. Hood and their families. Some of the survivors may need those laptops and other devices that Project Valour-IT provides. 

Donations of any size are tax deductible and greatly appreciated. Please do me the honor of donating through my humble blog by clicking the button below (or in the left sidebar). I've kicked in a C-note, as usual. Give what you can — it's dead simple, whether you use a credit card, PayPal, or electronic check — and even five or ten or twenty bucks helps a lot. Thanks for your support!

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Happy 234th birthday, Army!

Posted by Richard on June 15, 2009

A belated Happy Birthday to the United States Army, the oldest of the uniformed services, which was born on June 14, 1775.

U.S. Army 234th birthday coin

As the coin indicates, the Secretary of the Army has designated 2009 as The Year of the NCO. As the son of an officer, I can attest to the fact that NCOs are what makes the Army work. I'm sure my dad would have agreed. 

The occasion merits an inspirational story about a soldier. If this one (HT: Mrs. Greyhawk) doesn't move you, you're not human: 

Even when half your skull is missing, life goes on.
 
For ex-soldier Erik Castillo, gravely wounded by mortar fire in Iraq in 2004, life is going better than expected.
 
Five years have passed since he woke up drooling and paralyzed in an Army hospital with a coconut-sized hole in his cranium — an injury from which doctors said he would never fully recover.
 
The road back to some sort of normalcy has been rife with pain and indignity. He's been stared at by strangers, coped with countless surgeries and infections, and battled rage, self-pity and depression.
 
Through it all, he kept hoping he could reach a point where life seemed worth living again.
 
Finally, he has.
 
"I'm happy with who I am now," said Castillo, 25, a 2001 graduate of Rio Rico High School who now lives in Tucson.
Today, Castillo can walk unassisted — a feat that took more than three years to achieve. He owns a house and plans to go to college next year after more surgery later this year to repair his right eye socket and realign a droopy eye.
 
"I'm making the best of my life," he said. "No matter what, I'm not going to sit around and complain about my suffering."
 
Doctors say his progress represents a triumph of determination over despair, something that isn't unusual among wounded veterans — even those as severely injured as Castillo.
Damn, we've got some amazing young people in this country. Read the whole thing

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Our hero dead

Posted by Richard on May 25, 2009

"Flags In" for Memorial Day, Arlington National Cemetary. Photo from Isaac Wankerl (www.iwankerl.com).
The grave of his father, Maj. Max W. Wankerl, is in the foreground.

  

Memorial Day

by Edgar A. Guest (1881-1959)

 
The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day,
Is not a rose wreath, white and red,
In memory of the blood they shed;
It is to stand beside each mound,
Each couch of consecrated ground,
And pledge ourselves as warriors true
Unto the work they died to do.

Into God's valleys where they lie
At rest, beneath the open sky,
Triumphant now o'er every foe,
As living tributes let us go.
No wreath of rose or immortelles
Or spoken word or tolling bells
Will do to-day, unless we give
Our pledge that liberty shall live.

Our hearts must be the roses red
We place above our hero dead;
To-day beside their graves we must
Renew allegiance to their trust;
Must bare our heads and humbly say
We hold the Flag as dear as they,
And stand, as once they stood, to die
To keep the Stars and Stripes on high.

The finest tribute we can pay
Unto our hero dead to-day
Is not of speech or roses red,
But living, throbbing hearts instead,
That shall renew the pledge they sealed
With death upon the battlefield:
That freedom's flag shall bear no stain
And free men wear no tyrant's chain.

 

Today, please remember those who died "that liberty shall live." And thank the veterans who are still with us.

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OIF anniversary

Posted by Richard on March 20, 2009

Today is the sixth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Iraq hasn't been much in the news or on our minds lately, but Families United wants us to remember on this day:

It is a day to celebrate the bravery of our troops and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this nation and expand freedom to the oppressed.  Our men and women in uniform have fought tirelessly to make Iraq a nation that is free, stable and an ally in the War on Terrorism. 
 
It is because of our military that Iraq is beginning to heal and reach out to the world in ways many never believed possible.  It is because of our military that Iraqis are able to live, work, improve their lives and participate in their government free from fear and tyranny.  Hundreds of thousands of our brave troops have helped create the potential for a free nation in the heart of the Middle East.  Many of them have been there two, three, and even four times. 
 
America’s Military families know the sacrifice and dedication that our troops make every day to protect our country.   They experience it in the pride of a homecoming and the absence felt by an empty chair at the dinner table.  This anniversary is a day to honor their courage, pray for the fallen and reflect on the millions of lives now lived better because of our military men and women
.

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Troops leave New Orleans

Posted by Richard on March 1, 2009

After three and a half years, National Guard troops are ending their post-Katrina occupation of New Orleans today and completing the withdrawal of all remaining forces.

I think they should have acknowledged that their mission was a mistake and a failure two years ago, and withdrawn the troops then. We have to stop trying to remake the world in our own image. Stop trying to impose our values by military force and laissez les bon temps rouler.  

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Thanksgiving greetings from Iraq

Posted by Richard on November 28, 2008

Bill at Castle Argghh! reported on his Thanksgiving Day in Iraq (don't mind the acronyms and jargon; that's typical military-speak) and passed along a message from the locals:

I stopped to chat with two of the Kurdish kaydets in Class 70. One's best bud is a Sunni and the other has a pal who's Shi'a.

As I was walking to the DFAC, I stopped to exchange pleasantries with a couple of the Turkish Ell-Tees who are here as Liaison Officers — the pilots of the Iraqi 3rd Squadron had invited them to be their guests at lunch.

Walking into the DFAC, I yakked with some troops from the Kurdish Army who'd been invited to have lunch by the MITT working one of the outlying FOBs. The whole group sat with a couple of the Nigerian construction workers operating the cranes that hoist the steel sheeting that a local builder is using to erect the new IqAF Flight School complex.

Every Iraqi soldier I saw this morning wished me a Happy Thanksgiving.

I'd like to pass those wishes along to you guys..

You know, that's heartening on so many levels.

BTW, Castle Argghh! is a fellow member of the Army team raising funds for Project Valour-IT. Have you clicked the banner in the left sidebar and donated a few bucks to this wonderful cause yet? The Army team has extended its lead over Navy to $10,000 now, so we're home free. But the severely wounded soldiers waiting for this technology assistance to aid them with their recovery and independence still need more help.

If you'd rather donate via another service team or directly, that's OK too. But please give. You can donate directly here

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Thank a wounded vet this Thanksgiving

Posted by Richard on November 27, 2008

If you're a regular reader, you've seen my earlier posts (here and here) about this year's Project Valour-IT fundraiser. It's a friendly competition among teams of bloggers representing the different service branches to see which team can raise the most funds for this wonderful cause. 

In honor of my late father, Col. Samuel R. Combs, I'm a member of the Army team (the second blogger to sign up, in fact). The good news is that, after falling well behind Navy for a time, the Army team has now taken a commanding lead of more than $8,000. The bad news is that the total raised by all teams is only a little over $72,000. 

This fine project needs — and deserves — more to continue its valuable work. Let's see if we can't push the total to $100,000 this Thanksgiving (the last day of the competition). Please express your thanks to our severely wounded veterans by clicking the banner in the left sidebar and making a contribution.

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Another Project Valour-IT update

Posted by Richard on November 20, 2008

Have you clicked the Project Valour-IT contribution banner in the left sidebar and donated a few bucks to this worthy cause? Please do! The Navy team is still in the lead in this friendly inter-service competition, but the Army team has closed the gap and only trails by $2,000.

With your help, Army can regain the lead — and help lots of severely wounded troops in the process. Please contribute right now. You can use PayPal or a credit card, it only takes a minute, and it can make a big difference for someone who's given a lot for our country. Thanks!

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Project Valour-IT competition update

Posted by Richard on November 15, 2008

I noted yesterday that the Navy team was "coming on strong," and I was right. They've surged into the lead. The Army team is still solidly in second place, far ahead of the also-ran services. With your help, Army can regain the lead — and help lots of severely wounded troops in the process. 

If you've served in the Army, or have a friend or relative who's serving or has served, or if you just like the Army uniforms or recruitment ads — click the Project Valour-IT contribution banner in the left sidebar and donate a few bucks! It's a great cause, and you'll feel good for being part of it. I promise.

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Please help Project Valour-IT

Posted by Richard on November 13, 2008

One of the many fine projects of Soldiers' Angels is Project Valour-IT. It provides voice-activated/adaptive laptop computers to troops recovering from hand and other severe injuries. To date, it's provided over 2700 laptops, and recently expanded its program to offer other technology items that aid injured troops with their recovery and independence.

DoD caseworkers and Soldiers' Angels representatives at many military medical centers continue to identify patients in need of such support. But the cupboard is about empty. Project Valour-IT desperately needs funds to continue its fine work. 

To help raise the much-needed funds, a number of bloggers are engaged in a friendly competition. We sign up for the team representing the service branch of our choice, and compete to be the team that raises the most money. Once again, I've joined the Army team in memory of my dad, the late Col. Samuel R. Combs, who "answered his country's call even before the phone rang."

Please click the Project Valour-IT banner on the left and contribute to the project via the Army team. The competition runs through Thanksgiving. Right now, we're far in the lead, having raised almost as much as the other service branches combined. But Navy is coming on strong, and as I recall, they edged us out at the end last year. So please add a few bucks to the Army total by clicking that contribution banner right now.

Donating is quick, easy, and painless, and even if you can only spare five or ten bucks, you can help to really make a difference for men and women who've suffered a lot defending our freedom and safety.

Thank you.

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Veterans Day salute

Posted by Richard on November 11, 2008

 soldier saluting flag

To those who have served, and to those who serve today:

Thank you
 


It Is The Soldier

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
 

Charles Michael Province, U.S. Army

Copyright Charles M. Province, 1970, 2005

http://www.pattonhq.com/koreamemorial.html

Papa, I love you and miss you. And I'm grateful.

On this Veterans Day, please make a contribution to an organization (or two or three!) that supports veterans or active-duty military personnel. Such as Project Valour-IT to help severely wounded soldiers. Please click on the Make a Donation button at the top of the left sidebar and help me help the Army team in this friendly inter-service rivalry for a good cause. The competition runs through Thanksgiving.

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Top Gun in an armchair?

Posted by Richard on August 13, 2008

A generation of would-be aviators has grown up sitting in front of a computer mastering Microsoft Flight Simulator. The day has arrived when they can earn their wings, and kill people and break things, in the same comfortable surroundings, flying combat missions in a comfortable chair in front of a bank of LCD monitors:

The U.S. Air Force is, for the first time, converting a fighter wing from manned (F-16) combat aircraft, to unmanned ones (the MQ-9 Reaper.) The conversion, for the 174th Fighter Wing, has been in the works for three years, and the last combat sorties in manned aircraft were flown last week, by members of the 174th serving in Iraq.

The air force has already converted several combat wings to fly Predators which, while armed (with two 107 pound Hellfire missiles), are considered reconnaissance aircraft. The Reaper is considered a combat aircraft, optimized for seeking out and destroying ground targets. Jet powered combat UAVs are in development. It's only a matter of time before UAVs take over air superiority, strategic bombing and suppression of enemy air defenses duties as well.

Top Gun

It seems to be Air Force only at this point, but you can bet the Navy is thinking about how many UAVs it could put on an aircraft carrier. 

Reaper pilots may not look as cool as Tom Cruise in his flight suit, but their aircraft are much more cost-effective than F-16s. These combat UAVs aren't exactly cheap at $18 million apiece, but F16s cost three times as much, use 100 times as much fuel, and are far more expensive to operate. And then there's the elimination of risk to the pilots. 

The Reapers aren't small, either — almost five tons, with a 66-foot wingspan and a 1.5 ton payload capacity. That's a fair number of smart bombs and missiles. And they can remain airborne over 14 hours, with their ground-based pilots working shifts. And going home to their families each day.

Pretty cool. I just hope the Air Force isn't working on that SkyNet thing to take over control of these weapons from humans.

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How the troops celebrated in Iraq

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2008

Speaking of patriotism, our troops in harm's way know the meaning of true patriotism and the significance of Independence Day. Bob Krumm has a marvelous report and video of an Independence Day ceremony in Iraq:

BAGHDAD – How are you spending your 4th of July holiday? While most Americans probably slept, 1,215 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines raised their right hands and committed to a combined 5,500 years of additional service during the largest reenlistment ceremony in the history of the American military. Beneath a large American flag which dwarfed even the enormous chandelier that Saddam Hussein had built for the Al Faw Palace, members of all services, representing all 50 states took the oath administered by Gen. David Petraeus, Commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq.

Among those in attendance were service members from the more than two dozen Allies serving with MNF-I. Along with their American counterparts, each appeared in awe of the sacrifice of these incredible men and women. Each of the reenlistees knows full well the costs of war, and yet, they chose to stand with their units, their mission, and each other. It was as humbling an experience as I have ever witnessed. On this 4th of July, while you celebrate around grills and coolers all across America, keep in mind the 1,215 who allow us that privilege.

Thanks to Bob for a great Independence Day present (and to Instapundit for the pointer).

I'll be quite surprised if this story makes it onto any of the broadcast networks' evening newscasts. Here's Bob's video (1:23):

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Bring them home now!

Posted by Richard on June 22, 2008

JammieWearingFool pointed out how well the Nancy Pelosi era is working out: according to a new Gallup Poll, the confidence rating of Congress is now down to 12%, one point below HMOs and the lowest level ever for any institution. That breaks down to 6% having a "great deal" of confidence in Congress and 6% having "quite a lot."

The President, at 26%, isn't doing so hot either. But that's more than double Congress's score and ahead of big business, the criminal justice system, labor unions, newspapers, and TV news.

The top three institutions — and the only ones in which a majority have a great deal or quite a lot of confidence — are the military (71%), small business (60%), and police (58%). The military has topped the rankings every year but one since 1988 (Reagan legacy, anyone?); in 1997, small business took the top spot. 

JammieWearingFool captured the delicious irony of this:

The Democrats have spent the better part of the last five years slandering our troops, and look where it's gotten them.

Hmm, let's see… On the one hand, Petraeus and the troops are succeeding, and they're atop the public confidence rankings. OTOH, this Congress has been unusually incompetent and sleazy even compared to previous Congresses, and the overwhelming majority apparently have very low expectations from it.

I have a modest proposal: Let's let the troops stay in Iraq, and bring the senators and representatives home from D.C.

(HT: Instapundit);

P.S. — Follow that link in the JWF quote above. Ralph Peters skewers the "aging activists" of his (and my) generation brilliantly.

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