Tuesday, November 11, 2014

11 November 2014 And the guns fell silent; if only for a brief moment


          There’s always supposed to be a formal time and date to cease hostilities between opposing forces.  There’s always supposed to be a treat or formalized agreement signed by dignitaries who know that the life span of that document will be somewhat less than the time required for all signers to travel home. 
          There are always changes in borders defining which combatants now control which bits of terrain, unless one combatant happens to be Israel.  Of course, many of the problems in today’s middle eastern wars stem from the final actions of the allies as WWI ended and the old empires were carved up and handed around as bonuses to the  Allies who defeated the Central Powers.
          WWI ended with the loss of millions of soldiers as the methods of slaughter were improved by industrial design.  The battle field became more lethal than anyone could have imagined but the use of maneuver units remained based upon methods dating back to the earliest recorded conflicts. 
          WWII followed on quickly as the technology of mass murder evolved into methods of killing that were truly apocalyptic in efficiency and hellish in nature.  As always, WWII ended with the declaration that future wars would now be impossible, as no people or nation wished to bring about so much death and horror into the world. 
          We rapidly discovered that such hopes had no foundation in reality.  We’ve failed to enjoy a decade that was not marked by wars in some manner. 
          There’s no reason to believe that the future will be any less brutal.  We’re ramping up to recycle the war in Iraq. 
          There have always been the thin red line, the long gray line, historic combat units tracing their histories back to some war, some land seizure, some national insult, religious intolerance, or any other event that one can imagine. 
          I’ve played my part in this eternal game.  I’m among the luckier participants.  I left the game with all the moving parts intact.  The injuries I received were less visible and less audible. 
          Today, Veteran’s day, remembrance day, what ever name you know it by, once again honors the fallen and advances that slight hope that the next time we hear the guns fall silent, they will truly remain silent.



Friday, November 7, 2014

7 November 2014 Though it isn’t really war, we’re sending 1500 more


The news today is infuriating.  We are now committing another 1500 of our men and women in uniform to the false hope and unreachable goal of building an Iraqi army that won’t desert of turncoat on the field of battle. 
          We’ve spent billions on this task during the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq.  We’re no planning to spend 5 billions more as the Obama gang tries to prop up a tottering fa├žade of a nation and its armed forces.  With the GOP slated to take over Congress, we’ll spend the  dollars to continue our role in sucking petro bucks out of Iraq and into the offshore accounts of the energy barons of the 1%.  Those are the dollars that were supposed to pay for the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq.  Remember?  Those are the same bucks that vanished by the shrink wrapped pallet every time another smoke screen obscured vision and a neo-con bag of bull shit filled the fans of Fox News.
“Though it isn’t really war, we’re sending 50,000 more to help save VietNam from Vietnames.”  Tom Paxton. 
Only a short effort to update Paxton’s lyric -  “Thoug h it isn’t really war we’re sending 1500 more to try to save  Iran from Iraqis.}

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTyqoV1d2Ys



          Today is the anniversary 97th of the Great October Revolution.  Fittingly, it is also the birthday of Lev Davidovitch Bronstein (later Leon Trotsky – father of the Red Army.)  Where is he now that we really need him?






Friday, October 17, 2014

17 October 2014 Congress demands Ebola action


          We now know of three cases of Ebola that were diagnosed in thes Unites States.  One was a visitor from Africa.  The other two are nurses who worked with th primary patient.  300, 000,000 Americans are now panicking about a disease that they will most likely never acquire. 
          Congress, guardians of the people, so they say, has been stumbling all over itself to make it appear that they are doing something to provide for the health and well being of Americans.  They held a high profile, televise conference yesterday whit each member asking essentially the same questions that they failed to listen to as the various agency doctors tried to answer.  It was apparent that the elected, exalted members had no ghost of an idea about virology, epidemiology, logistics as related to delivering health care, or a host of other things that determine whether or not we can properly diagnose and treat a virulent hemorrhagic fever caused by a virus that has a very high mortality rate. 
          Over the last decade, Congress has refused to adequately fund CDC, NIH, and other research treatment facilities and program.  They spent much time insisting that we should have a single medical person overseeing and guiding the various effots to handle a potential Ebola outbreak similar in nature to the Spanish influenza that followed WWI and killed millions.  However, Congress still continues to block the appointment of  very highly qualified candidate for Surgeon General because he made an anti-gun comment. 
          Yesterday, some of the GOP insisted that Obama should use the National guard to contain and control ebola patients and ebola quarantined citizens in some sort of isolation camp.  Sound like black helicopter? 
          The various hospitals are more or less prepared but the corporate nature of most of our hospitals will result in inadequate and dangerous work safety for health care workers when the MBA goons start buying cheaper, inadequate personal protective gear for employees to use. 

          Then, of course, the  rumors are bound to emerge.  After all, we’ve already seen countless claims that Obama is a Kenyan socialist determined to destroy America and hand it over to Islamic fundamentalists.  Is it, then, so difficult to believe that he might secretly bring in Islamic terror babies infected with ebola at birth so that Sharia law can replace our existing laws?  After all, Ebola is an African virus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15 October 2014 blackmail photo



          I’ve been looking for this photograph for a long time.  I recalled its existence but not as many of the details as I thought.   A visit with my mother and sister, Suzanne, led to an afternoon spent prowling through old photo albums.  This little gem popped out, and I jumped on it, secured it, and now intend to use it for my own nefarious purposes. 
          Every family seems to generate blackmail photos.  I spent a fair amount of energy avoiding all photography events.  On the other hand, my mother has quite a large collection of photos taken during her high school days and during her nurses training at Jewish Hospital in St. Louis MO where she was a member of the Army Cadet Nurse Corps during WWII.  Generational gaps narrow down quite a bit when the younger folks get to see the older ones when the older ones were younger. 
          While I didn’t discover any blackmail photos, I got to see her as she was when she was young, single, and in the pipeline for service in a combat theater.  That’s somewhat of a unique view, one that we early Boomers should try to establish for all the families who had members in similar situations.  There’s really not an equal opportunity for Gen X and Millenials as there is no large national effort such as WWII that involves the entire populace in a common effort.  Korea and VietNam differ due to the smaller numbers of men and women who wound up in those wars while the nation largely ignored the troops unless directly related. 
          I promised some of my Compendiot friends that I would post this photo if I ever located it.  So, here I was about 1972 along with older daughter Caitlin. 






Thursday, October 2, 2014

2 October 2014 Xin Loi Dau Tieng


The mail today included a notice that the Army has rejected my attempt to have my records corrected to reflect wounds received in August 1969 while serving with the 1st Infantry Division in Dau Tieng VietNam.  This effort was refused despite the description of the event by a former soldier in the same unit.
           When I first asked for the record mod in  2002 I had no knowledge that anyone else could partially corroborate my claim.  This summer I stumbled across a book written by my former comrade in arms.  He wrote about the event in a book published in 2011.  I was able to contact him and he agreed to provide what support he could in reopening the claim. 
          Since then, I’ve also made contact with the unit’s former XO.  He remembers me but was not present on site that day.  He and I talked by phone and he provided a lot of information to fill in blanks and illuminate situations. 
          I intend to meet with the author sometime before year’s end. 
          While my medical records indicate shrapnel injuries, visible on X-ray, there is no documentation that I acquired the shrapnel in-country. 

          I’ve no further reason to pursue the matter any further.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

13 September 2014 Uncle Sam needs your help again


          “Come on all you big, strong, men; Uncle Sam needs your help again…
So go the opening words of The FISH Song by “Country Joe and the Fish.” 
          The song linking the nature of foreign war with the San Francisco music scene of the middle 1960’s is indelibly stamped into the gray matter of much of the Boomer generation.  The song was penned by Joe McDonald, a veteran of the U.S. Navy.  I had committed it to memory before becoming one of those “helping Uncle Sam.”  I can still pull up the lyrics and the melody with no hesitation. 
          Of course, I can also easily recall the increasing numbers of troops poured into S. VietNam, and to the air war over N. VietNam.  I, and thousands of others who had reason to be concerned, watched the presence of U.S. troops in S. VietNam begin with advisors on the ground to help the S. Vietnamese build an army that might actually stand a chance of fighting the Viet Minh ( later Viet Cong) and the PAVN forces that reached southward of the 17th parallel.  The loss of advisors led to security forces to protect the advisors.  It then became necessary to defend aircraft on the ground and the troops that had to service the aircraft.  In just a short period the number of U.S. troops had climbed to over 100,000 in country.  By the time I vacationed there, the total sacrificial boots on the ground exceeded 500,000 pairs.  Over 3,000,000 men and women serving in uniform for the U.S. took part in the ground and air wars that lasted ( for the U.S.) from 1954 – 1973. 
          Despite the millions of tons of explosives, napalm, and white phosphorous dropped from the skies over VietNam and neighboring nations, there was nothing to cause anyone other than LeMay and his disciples to imagine that a ground war could be won by air strikes.  It didn’t work in Europe during WWII.  It didn’t work in VietNam.  War always comes down to the level of the infantry unit. 
          Now we are seeing the same arguments put forward to justify a return to Iraq and surrounds.  Despite more tons of ordnance delivered by manned and unmanned airframes, ground is still captured and held by the queen of battle.  If we allow ourselves to be sold another excursion to Iraq with side trips to Syria, we’re only proving once again that our political leaders have no awareness of U.S. military history; or that of any other nation.   However, ideology is not something that any number of troops can eliminate.  We need to take another hard look at the cost of our military involvement in the Middle East, at which companies and which countries benefit from U.S. troops bleeding and dying, and what sort of effort can be expected and demanded by surrounding nations. 
          At least, in the VietNam, we were smart enough not to step into the same swamp twice.  It appears that we are going to make that encore mistake now. 

"Give me an "F"!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

11 September 2014 question of the day where were you


At home in Palmetto FL.
Watching buildings fall, people die, and the porosity of our borders exposed to a populace that had been allowed to believe in the inviolable safety of life in the U.S. as compared to other western nations.
           At the same time we were watching the rapid development of TS Gabrielle as it bore down on us. What normally would have been an around the clock news event in 2001 was mostly ignored by the media that was repeatedly following every pronouncement to extinction. The usual flight out of the storm's path that would have jammed the airlines as the wealthy left their waterfront homes did not take place due to the national ground stop.