Monday, January 31, 2005
Just a quick post to say a heart felt "THANK YOU!" for those still in Iraq and Afghanistan, military and civilian workers alike, and to those who have been and returned from those areas. To the families who have to know their sons, daughters, husbands and wives are far away, thank you, too. To the families who have lost a loved one, I have no words, but I'm certain you know I'm forever indebted to you and the one who will not return. For all mentioned above, yesterday was possible because many individuals chose to step up to the challenge and be part of something bigger than themselves, and we all will reap the rewards of thier sacrifices.
I'm impressed, and a little stunned that there is overall positive reaction to the history that occured yesterday. "Ballot not Bullets" graced the above the fold story on the front of the Tampa Tribune. Good job! Blackfive has two stories that show the desperation of the terrorists. Here's one from an Air Force photographer and this is the other, which discusses how the terrorists have apparantly run out of young boys and woman to volunteer to kill themselves, but now use children with Downs Syndrome. We're talking real losers, who are running on fumes. After just reading those two stories, how can any thinking person give any credibility to these people who hide behind ski masks, disembowel women peace workers and behead truck drivers? The tide is turned. History is in the making. The world will become safer. The MSM and the left wingers will be left scratching their heads, making some illogical rationaliztions.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Today is the day. The news will be full of stories on the Iraqi elections....well, let me reconsider that. If it's a disater, and many people are killed, the process disrupted and the goal of uncoerced voting occurs, we will be completely overwhelmed by "NEWS." On the other hand, if a nation decides to step up to the plate, as reports indicate, and begin to make a place of thier own, with women freely voting, right next to the men, and every citizen of legal age even having the right to vote, or not vote, as is their own personal choice, then the news will give us a few brief remarks, most likely with an over tone of "it was rigged." I'm not prophet, but by using the past (Afghani elections), I'm making this prediction of the future. This is a historic day. It is also a day that will not reward us with its goodness until many years from now. My evidence you ask? Simple. Japan and Germany. Poland, and a host of other formerly Soviet Block controlled countries. I spent 6 years developing, distributing and supporting a PC based computer program that took the time requirements out of keeping up to date records on qualification in the wake to the gun turret explosion aboard USS IOWA (BB-62). As a result, the administrative offices actually started keeping the records up to date, and watchbills were more accurately prepared, and the process of planning how to get someone qualified was better managed. I bring this up because it is like the case of these elections in that I can never prove how many lives may have been saved, or dollars not spent to repair damage, when an under- or unqualified sailor or officer attempted to do something outside of their capabilities, but I inherently know it must have. The program made it's way to over 120 ships, from mine countermeasure ships and hydrofoils, and all the way up to aircraft carriers. When this election process reaches fruition, and the candiates are put in place with a mandate (yes, that's what happens when you are elected, ask Bill Clinton) to make a safe and peaceful country, we'll not be able to count the lives that are not snuffed out because the hatred dies down. I've often thought it would be illuminating to sit down and do some population math. If you begin by computing the annual death rate under Saddam Hussien, you can simply project that since his ousting from power, the people who would have been killed for sport and political expediency, are still here. Each day, more people survive as a result of the freeing of Iraq. The harder math comes when I'd have to study the process of population growth, in order to predict how many births will now occur, how many marriages will do like-wise, and also result in a following generation, etc, etc, etc, to help us get a handle on just how important this entire process of this war has been. Even if you're one stuck in the "WHERE ARE THE WMDs?" world, can you honestly tell me you hate the fact that the dignity of human life has been enhanced, or might you be so calloused to have allowed Saddam Hussien to continue his fratricidal ambitions? Greyhawk of the The Mudville Gazette has some excellent reading on reports from different cities in Iraq, complete with comments from those who will risk their lives to vote, becasue they see this as something special.
Friday, January 28, 2005
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I met a man who just came back from Iraq and Afghanistan. I met him for the first time two nights ago. He is a reservist in the Navy, rated as an equipment operator in the SEABEES. He is also the Command Master Chief for his unit, so he was the senior enlisted man in his unit, and therefore the one responsible for the morale and welfare of the enlisted men in a very direct way. What was striking were his few comments about what he had had to do, and some of the things that have happened as a result. His unit was assigned to some “digs.” What this entailed was being guided to a place and then digging to see what they could find. They were searching for the mass graves. His unit found one. While I didn’t hear a number, it was plenty of people who hade been killed, as he spoke briefly about how about 40 of the people had been shot in the temple, yet the others must have been buried alive, as there wasn’t evidence of any similar type of wounding to the other remains. He then, not in a complaining manner, matter of factly discussed going to some appointments, which most certainly were some type of group therapy sessions for those who had been assigned to recover the bodies. He had some spare time before making it all the way back to the States, and commented about going to the base hospital as much as possible for “appointments.” Then he remarked the military medical system here can’t handle the demand for counseling, and he has been told to go to the VA. He has once and saw about 100 people in line before him for all sorts of appointments. When we wrapped up this part of the discussion, he said: “We’re going to flood the VA.” I’d ask that you pray for the peace these men and women will need to get on with life, after having to have been a part of details to help heal another nation in the aftermath of so much evil. And, if you get the chance, lobby for making sure the services take care of them at the professional level.
What a wonderfully deceptive headline to greet you the day after a helicopter crashes in Iraqi killing 30 Marines and one Sailor. It was on the front of the Tampa Tribune in the driveway this morning. The article is about the crash, not some ambush, or firefight casualty situation. There is no indication of hostile action, but it seems the press won’t pass up an opportunity to blame commonplace accidents on what they believe is a failed geo-political policy of the President they love to hate. Amazingly enough, just a few weeks back, there was no similar story when the Navy’s SEAHAWK crashed in Indonesia while coming in to land and deliver aid to the tsunami victims. Based on the reporting this morning, I’m sure they could have somehow linked the SH-60s problem to the stinginess of the United States, but thankfully, they didn’t. An unfortunate, yet well understood fact by just about anyone with any understanding of aircraft, is that helicopters are incredibly complex marvels of modern engineering. In simplistic terms, it’s thousands of vibrating parts, all trying to head one way under the direction of a human pilot. In addition to this degree of complexity, add the complexity of the human mind, then add some bad flying conditions. Yes, there it is, a recipe for disaster. More often than not, the helo pilots carry the day and achieve success, but sometimes, they are on the other end of the statistics and become the subject of the next aviation safety report. I really wanted to fly, and while my idea of flying was to have been the real life pilot that they used to model the character of Maverick in “Top Gun,” I did grab stick time whenever I could. I managed to actually get about an hour at the controls of a CH-46 SEA KNIGHT, which is a large aircraft, with two main rotors, so I have a little idea about what it’s like to fly one of those. I have more time in the pilot’s seat of fixed wing stuff, from Cessnas to TA-4 SKYHAWKs, so I can compare and contrast the fixed versus rotary wing experience. In addition to actual control time, I spent a few hours sitting between the pilot and co-pilot of CH-46s, while they practiced vertical replenishment (VERTREP) work at sea. On top of all of that, I have hundreds of rides in Army and Navy helicopters as a passenger behind me, many of which I only rode up in them, then took care of the landing myself. I hung around with the “zoomies” at every chance I got. What I know about flight is this: There isn’t any such thing as a “perfectly good airplane.” Stop anyone on the street with any life experience and they will have to admit they have heard news reports of those “perfectly good airplanes” falling out of the sky with little or no notice to the flight crew. Here’s the salient point: Aviation accidents happen. Lives are lost and property is damaged and lawyers make lots of money as a result. What I know about flying helicopters is this: It’s hard and dangerous work. This is not to say flying fixed wing stuff isn’t dangerous, but when you do that hover thing, it’s an incredible load on the pilots mental capacity. I’m sure it’s right up there with night carrier landings. I’ve not had the opportunity to land aboard an aircraft carrier at night, but from all accounts, that’s the most intense flying experience in the world, as pretty much any pilot will attest to. For some “I was there” material on this subject, Neptunus Lex has written about it on his blog. Regardless as to how much fun it was to give the embarked helicopter pilots a hard time during my shipboard assignments, I have a tremendous amount of respect for them. I worked as a fight deck tower officer and landing signal officer on several ships, which was where I got my flight time in. It was especially eye opening to ride during VERTEP practice, and being able to listen to the flight crew coordinating the pick up and dropping off of externally slung loads over the deck of a moving ship. The pilot had three people talking to him, feeding him information, as he had his eyes locked on the ship, so he could gauge how to fly sideways and maintain a zero relative motion condition for extended periods. Based on the life experience I have and with the comments above, I submit the cause of the crash may well have been just a flight accident; it may have been a mechanical or electrical/electronic problem, or it may have been pilot error. It could have been enemy action, but the initial reports don’t provide any indication of that. Trust me, as with accident of this nature, a very through investigation will follow, with the thrust of it to ascertain the cause, so that any problems found can be corrected before there is another case such as this. That process of accident investigation is highly refined and a seriously undertaken task, as much for preventing the loss of expensive equipment, as it is to prevent the loss of life. Both are of the utmost importance to the investigative team. I wish the MSM would get on with real reporting, and quit playing the same “I should have won” cards that are the staple of Senators Kerry and Boxer. That attitude won’t restore any life, but it sure can raise the anxiety level for no logical reason.
I continue to be baffled by the lack of the participation of NOW in the current world situation. I would think with all the news of the mistreatment of the sisters of the American women from other parts of the world, most notably the Middle East, we would have seen women “suiting up” by the thousands, demanding slots at Parris Island and Fort Bragg. I would think any way they could get into the fight, now that we have functionally acquiesced to women in combat, they would be demanding. So, what’s up with the lack of concern? Are there too many important glass ceilings in corporate America, that are oppressing women on a world-wide level for them to leave their executive suites they have worked so hard to gain? Must they stay put in order to protect the right of women, or can they just keep their sisters in Africa and the Middle East, and even now, parts of Europe, better protected from where they are? I could go one for a while and provide plenty of links to stories about honor killings, stonings and multilations, but they have been ignored so far. What about me you may wonder? In case you think I’m speaking from some ivory tower, demanding someone do something I’m not willing to do, I did my time, and would still be in, had it not been for the reasonable and required downsizing of the US Military after the Cold War ended. I’d love a chance to get a piece of those who are preventing the basic human right of freedom. Along the way, equal rights for everyone would be a cause good enough for me to fight for. If you’re a feminist at heart, I’d challenge you to step up to the plate and do something, besides figure out if you can get that next promotion, while your sisters are being brutalized at the hands of men who think they are property, and not worthy of respect. Any of the services will take you, but I’d suggest the Marines, because in the Corps, everyone is a rifleman first.
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
I found a very interesting story via Mudville Gazette. It came from USA Today, but I'm not sure much farther this has been propagated. Anyhow, this is a report from an 18 year old Saudi man who became a suicide bomber, and we betrayed. Read it. It will put a face to those who do this type of thing, and how it cnaged his life.
Here's a link to a first person report from a Naval Officer on the LINCOLN. He simply states what he sees with all the people "getting in on the act" in the disater relief, and adds a few emotional comments. I can attest to the proplem of "strap hangers," or, as my first Executive Officer, CDR Dave Martin, used to call them: Trolls. Just so as not to confuse you, that was back in 1977-78, before blogging, where we have a similar type of uninvited, rude, insensitive, and generally all around selfish people. In March, 89, I had the "pleasure" of having Bob Zelnick and crew, from ABC, riding us during a training day at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Not only where they constantly in the way of the drills, I had to assign ship's company, who should have been training, to escort them around. That was one experience where I came to dislike the Public Affairs Officers, because they were ashore, drinking coffee....that's a topic for another post. The officer who wrote this ends by making some cogent comments about the decreased readiness of the pilots. One thing the aviation community takes seriously is the maintenance of training for those who fly on and off things at sea. Besides being an issue of life and death, quite pragmatically, a cost-benefit analysis tells you after paying that much for a fancy airplane, and that much more to train the aircrew, it dings the budget quite a bit when one goes in the drink. It's an all around losing scenario. I may have been a "shoe," but I worked enough time on the helo decks to know those aviators need the experience to maintain their proficiency.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Monday, January 24, 2005
Over the last few years, the various random and seemingly chaotic thoughts of where we are going in this society have occasionally rambled through my grey matter. The results, while the judges and jury both are out, show some alarming patterns, that all link back to short term thinking. Once again, I’ll call on a quote from Patrick Henry to preface what follows: “There is but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” I’ll start with the nay saying about Iraq. Yes, I’m biased about not losing the advantage after losing 1300 lives of our military. Having volunteered in 1972, the year after the draft was abolished, I was one of the many who began the “volunteer” force. There have been millions of volunteers before me, but upon my entry, there were no more men being absorbed into the service against their will. I spent the next 23 years and 9 months sewing this country. I‘m biased in my thoughts that the U.S. Military has been well used in keeping the level of violence down on the face of the planet. Why is there so much resistance to establishing a democracy in Iraq? I’m baffled by all at this effort to derail an opportunity for another sovereign nation to taste what so often we now take for granted. On one hand, I can comprehend why a small group of individuals (their religious connection not even really being factored in in my opinion) who have made their overly posh lifestyle by taking advantage of the masses, are so desperate to stop this move towards individual freedom. They do not want to be held accountable for suppressing the basic dignity of people. From that stand point, I can almost give them some degree of respect, in that they have some logic to support their actions, flawed as it may be. On the other hand, those who consider themselves “liberals,” are the very ones who will be quick to tell anyone how they are for supporting human rights, both real, perceived and even concocted ones. They claim a party name of “Democrats.” They are also the ones to demand that we abandon the Iraqi people the few who have held positions of power in a very brutal manner, and even as I write this, are demonstrating they are willing to continue to retain this form of oppression of the masses. Where are the voices of these who decry the abuse of the proletariat? Is it just because the Islamic rulers claim their power of control is due to a religious foundation, and not due to economics? Can they not see it is the same selfish desire at the core of the issue? We are at a point in time, where it is much like 1945. It takes little mental agility to survey history and realize two brutal dictatorships, full of aggression and national selfishness, were defeated and are now peaceful and democratic as a result of the shedding of blood on both sides. Did this happen over might? No. Did this happen because as soon as the instruments of surrender were signed, we instantly brought all our troops home? No. So you’d like to say we got lucky? What do you have to say about the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, effectively in 1989? If memory serves me correctly, a great deal of peace broke out in Eastern Europe since then. Not only did it happen in the former Soviet buffer states, who regained their national identities, but within Russia, as well. While Ruskin has some military power, they no longer are the threat to World peace they were for about 49 years. In addition to being peaceful, they are also democratic, where the citizens now have a voice. We left the 20th Century with about 160 democracies; we entered it with about 100. Applying statistical analysis at a very basic level says that’s a 60% increase. In this century, Afghanistan has been added to the list. From a standpoint of a “vote count,” I’d say the majority chooses democracy. Who are we to presume the Iraqis don’t want it? Notice how quiet it has been in Afghanistan? To finalize this post, I ask rhetorically, why can’t we use our experience of the past, specifically the aftermath of WWII and the Cold War, to see the expansion of democracy is a move that is for the betterment of all mankind?
Thursday, January 20, 2005
To my faithful few: Sorry for the light blogging, just had a job change and have some admin issues getting in the way or more coherent thoughts (of course, that's my opinion of the material posted here - feel free to disagree). I have consummed many cups of coffee at the "pay for library" in the neighborhood. Tonight, I was reading the current Naval History magazine and came across this jewel of a quote: “There is but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging the future but by the past.” – Patrick Henry This comment is so timely. With all the things going on in the country and the world right now, the study of history will tell us not much is new, yet many proclaim it to be. Something to ponder in the light of Patrick Henry's words and, if you're got some time on your hands to read a speech, wander to this address and see what Alexander Solzhenitsyn had to say at Harvard in 1978.
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Matt at Black Five has a post regarding an new bill being sponsered by Joe Lieberman (D - Conn) and Jeff Sessions (R - Ala) to increase the death benefits of service members. When you see some of the payouts, you'll see they are pretty outdated in todays economy, and I would ask you to lend your support to this cause by contacting your representatives in Congress. Please pass this along to your freinds, family and co-workers...
Monday, January 17, 2005
It seems the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is upset that the terrorists in the new season of the Fox suspense show "24" are being stereotyped as Islamic. For the short notes on this, I found the article on Little Green Footballs in this post. Somehow, and correct me if I'm wrong (particulaly in the post Bay of Bengal tsunami disaster days), but haven't we regularly seen the American Flag burned by Palestians, Iraqis, Egyptian, Afgani, etc, etc, etc Muslims in the news over the last few years? I may have been hallucinating, but I also recall the burning of manequins labled George Bush by the same fervent crowds, while they shot rifles and pistols in the air, all of this while proclaiming Americans are completely evil. Toss in the lies about planting nuclear weapons in the sea floor to cause tidal waves, purposely planning 9/11, and a plethora of other completely out to lunch accusations with no foundation in fact by the same crowds.... I think we most certainly can remove references to Islamic terrorists, when some other group commits 51% of the terrorist attacks against Americans, and also when Al Jazerra stops "stereotyping" Americans as oppressors and imperialists. Notice CAIR doesn't say who should be the terrorsts, just they shouldn't be represented by those who are actually committing most every terrorist act in the world in the last few years.....
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Once more, a daily read of Black Five yields a story worth passing along: Artist retires so he can make portraits of fallen military members There's just something special about people who will listen to the leading of God and do something so very compassionate. Please follow the link to Matt's site and then follow the links to the Stryker Brigade's stories of this man at work. My prior post about Captain Greenawalt, a Vietnam Vet who will do memorial photo collages, is here. I urge you to pass this information around to the families you know who have sacrificed their loved ones.
In Part 1, I laid a foundation for what I see going on around the world from us... The restructuring of the American Military gave us a connection, as a society to the warfighter/warfighting. In Iraq, it is now doing a third, most likely unintended benefit: With the mix of reservisits and National Guardsman who are operating far from home, they are able to share with the local population a variety of skills required for a nation not at war. Nation building, done by those prepared for war. Pretty cool. I just don't believe anyone in the planning in the 70's and 80's foresaw this. I've seen stories about a Guard lawyer who was tasked to help draft the Iraqi Constitution. There are stories of police officers, reservisits and Guard, who are working with the local fledging law enforement organizations, bringing them modern techniques and tactics. I'm sure there are countless stories that we will never hear, where someone's full time profession in the States, was used to assist in either social or business dimensions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Military personnel of this Nation have done us proud. They have set up schools, women's centers, parks and playgrounds. They have engaged the local populations in their sport of choice (soccer) and I read one story where a unit sent home asking for old bats, gloves and balls to set up a Little League league. Instead, they got all new equipment to hand over the Iraqi children to teach them baseball. Units have handed out school supplies, sent by a foundation set up by actor Gary Sinese. A multitude of other items have been sent from the US and donated to the children. In Afghanistan, one Army Soldier (Regular Army, but with a heart of gold), collected shoes to distribute. I could go on, but you get the point. As with the tsnami disaster, the American population opened it's wallets to do something we can because of our prosperity: give from our excess. The Iraqis and Afghanis who have benefited from these personal relationships, with our men and women who gave of themselves, and helped funnel even more compassion from our citizens who could not be there, will forever be changed. I'd venture for the good. This war, while maybe no different than the times of rebuilding Europe and Japan after WWII (which I must admit, I have not taken the time yet to see if there are parallels to this topic), it certainly will reap benefits in a more peaceful part of the world in years to come...and that's good for everyone, both here and there.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
I wrote an earlier post on the winning of hearts and minds, and it included some information about some small “nation building” efforts at the village level by some Marines. There was also some references to the way the composition of the makeup of regular versus reserve/national guard units was modified in the period between Vietnam and Gulf War I. This afternoon, I was toying with the thought that something very unique is going on a half a world east of me, but I believe it is more off cycle, that I hope becomes a trend. My basic thought is we have, quite by accident, built a military well suited to nation building. The concept of the re-mixing of logistics to combat unit ratios between active duty and the “citizen soldier” components after Vietnam is described by Col. Harry Summers, Jr. in “On Strategy: Gulf War.” Harry describes how the middle grade combat leaders from that War moved into assignments where they had the opportunity to recompose how we manned our armed forces, to ensure they, and their juniors marched to the next war with “the will of the people” in their corner. The concept of having an active duty organization that could march quickly into battle, but only for short periods, needed rapid augmentation by reserve and National Guard units right away, if there was a sustained conflict. “Round out” units, such as the 2/263rd Armored Battalion from the South Carolina National Guard would provide the 3rd battalion to bring the 2nd Armored Division to full strength. Military police, engineer, chemical and quartermaster corps units would have to come along to provide vital logistical and combat support functions. People in these units would be your banker, lawyer, sheriff, hardware store owners, etc, from cities and towns all across the nation. In other words, just about every one of us would have a personal connection to someone who would be sent out in the name of the people of this United States. It was, quite frankly, pure genius. This concept was to solve a problem real warfighters in the late 60’s and 70‘s had to contend with. From their pain and anguish, a plan was conceived and executed. Not only was this idea right on target to tie our military to the general civilian population for support for a war, it has the added, and I would argue, subconscious, benefit of placing a “governor “ on the emotions of this Nation. The mere fact we may consider entering our military into a conflict, they are not as they were during the Vietnam era, a sub-class of people who were poor or too stupid to hold a real job, but they are who we live alongside. It was too easy to emotionally discard the people who defended us when they were drafted into service. With this new force makeup, it is our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors at stake. If the cause is important, we will acquiesce to their deployment, and most unfortunately, the death and injury to some of them. Conversely, if that’s too great a risk for what is at stake, then our voices will be raised in protest. In Gulf War I, the designed benefit of connection to the will of the people played out. “We” went forward and pushed an invader out of a sovereign nation. Not only did the country rally behind the troops, when some of them were killed by “friendly fire” (most people who have been in combat will argue that there is no such thing- any fire is unfriendly when it’s coming at you!) It was the public sentiment that helped spur on the budgeting and development of better communications and identification equipment and procedures. I’ll stop here, and soon post my analysis of an added, third benefit of this force structure I'm sure wasn't foreseen decades ago, as this plan was forming.
I'm honored to share this poem with you, from a man who "gets it." A Vietnam vet, with a keen mind, has "penned" another great one... Pulled from The Mudville Gazette (a "paper" you should make a habit of reading), here's Russ:
When the World Dials 911 Disaster strikes a world away We get the call, what do we say? We move at once, to ease their plight, To aid them through their darkest night. But come shrill cries from carping Press, That’s not enough to fix this mess. We know that, fools, but give us room, To counter Mother Nature’s doom. America gives to those in need, With no regard to faith or creed. We’re there for all when need is great A helping hand to any state, That’s fallen under Nature’s wrath And needs a lift back to the path. So what they may have mocked our ways? We’ll turn our cheek ‘til better days. But there are those who hate us so, They’ll carp and snipe and hit us low, Who’ll bend disaster to their needs, And try to choke us on our deeds. They’ll play their dirty liberal tricks, For them it’s only politics. In the face of massive human pain, They only think of their own gain. But the world knows sure whom it must call, When disaster strikes, when nations fall. America is the beaming light That fades, dispels disaster’s night, And standing firm provides relief To salve the pain, allay the grief. So to Hell with what our critics say, America’s fine, still leads the way. Russ VaughnRuss; Thank you!
News about relationships and how the American soldier does what is good... National Guard 133rd Engineer Battalion's "Farewell" Tour Take a peek and see anohter story that most likely will get about no coverage, for once again, it might show something positive...
It certainly appears that the MSM just hates bloggers. I have come to understand when you have a strong emotional reaction to anything (usually in the negative direction), it's good to sit back and examine just why you feel that way. Many times, I have come to the conclusion (properly so) that I have a problem, not the person who "set me off." I'd invite the MSM to seriously consider what has put the burr under their saddle, and possibly see if there's something they can do to help amend the current "divide." Also, I was lead to believe that "jounalists" were to report the news, not to set out to "change the world." Idealism is fine, but being deceitful is wrong, and that, I believe is at the core of the problem. If you want to change the world, say so and get on with it. You'll get respect points for telling it straight. If not, you loose points for lying. Call that a "DUH!" moment, but maybe too many jounalists have grown up under the post-Dr. Spock days, and had no leadership at home. Enough rambling. Taka a click on this article about press "cheerleading". At least it highlights the problem internally. We can only hope it takes root.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Update: And pictures of the relief effort by the US Navy... I picked up this report in the comments section on a post at Little Greeen Footballs. A Navy helipcopter pilot sent these remarkable words from the operations. Please note, for the uninitited, that "crew rest" for Naval Aviators is a big deal and the NATOPS Manuals require they get "eight hours of sleep" a day. While often this is a point of reference for barbed comments between the "shoes" ("ship drivers" or "black shoes") and the aviators, this post indicates someone has locally modified that requirement in order to help out at a level of effort necessary (and I'm sure some of those crews feel they aren't doing enough, even with 4 hours off a day). Here's the post:
Village Idiot's Apprentice 1/4/2005 10:58AM PST Just a quick copy of something one of the officers here at the Academy sent me. These guys are amazing. Here's a great story about the US Navy helping out the tsunami victims. "Just spoke with one of my helo buds about what is going on on the flight deck here in Aceh. The devistation is much greater than can be described. This morning, there were dead bodies face down floating all around the ship. We have since moved position. My helo bud was working till 0130 AM and had to brief at 0430 AM. Every helo crew is working from sunrise to sunset (9 hours straight in helo) bringing food and supplies to villages all over the northern part of Indonesia. USS Lincoln was first on seen I am told. He said that he counted 15 bodies floating in water on his short few mile trip to the shore line. Thousands of bodies are in mass graves all over the country and in one town, population 50,000, only 1000 people are still alive. Most large several story concrete buildings now have no concrete on them - just the metal frame of building remains. One bridge was completely displaced from its original location several miles inland and has been flopped upside down. A huge tanker ship was overturned by the Tsunami and displaced over land. He said it looks like a bulldozer several miles wide has run its steel edge across the landscape, leveling everything. He is doing flights about 100nm away from ship taking supplies to make shift landing zones near leveled villages. On the way there are people with flags waiving for him to stop to give them food and water. His copilot logs the lat longs so that supplies can be brought to the people on a future mission. The people are now dying from exposure, lack of water and food. The medical team predicts many people will die in 3 days. My friend says that there are about 300 helos (he describes the sky as "grey with Navy helos") working the effort but it doesn't even come close to what is needed to even dent what needs to be done. He said that even if every aircraft on the flight deck was able to bring supplies - it wouldn't be enough. When CAG went flying with him, he got out of the helo to off load supplies. The people flocked to CAG, trying to hug him but he had to direct them to the boxes of food, water and supplies to not be run over. The destruction is especially bad where the surge wave was funneled in between two areas of rising terrain. The water surged and picked up speed as it was squeezed into valleys between the mountains. When listening to my bud, I could see that he could not fully describe how bad things really are. He was tired too. Please pray for the people in desparation over here and pray for helo pilots. I am getting my final medical screening and chaiplain brief today and should be one of the teams going in in the next week or so. The security is not good enough for us to stay over night so we are limited to 6 helos bringing 8 people each morning and we have to come home each night. I am on team 36 so don't know when I will get off to help out. It is frustrating to not be able to help out. God Bless,I agree, praying would be a good thing, for the deck and flight crews who are putting in the herculean effort, just as much as if they were supporting a war, but in this case, in the name of humanity.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Today I followed a link to this story about a 14 year old boy working as a translator. I find it simply amazing that stories such as this don't seem to appear in the MSM. Why not, you ask? Once again....God forbid we show that democracy works, that the country of Iraq is worth our effort.
Papa Doc at Winds of Change has posted an article that takes apart the December 16th, 2004 audio tapes from Osama bin Laden. There were actually two tapes. One for the Iraqis and one for the Saudis. The analyst, Dan Darling, sees three audiences in the Saudi tape: The Americans, the Saudis and the Iraqis. I'm going to find some time to really read this. It's long, yet it lays out some things we will need to consider in the days and years ahead, and for the following generations.
LCOL Dave Belsan sent the following email to his Father. It paints a picture of the aftermath of wresting the city from a a band of terrorists, and what has been done to help the residents get back to their homes. God forbid the MSM actually goes out of their way to actually report that something good is being done by the US Military, it might make people believe these men and women they "support" aren't really evil..... The Green Side is Dave's Father's blog to post the reports he receives from his son. I, for one, am glad men like Dave Belsan are on the front lines. Having read many of his reports, he sounds like a great leader, and a compassionate man, working hard to balance the use of force with the need to help.