We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Green Beret, Bassist for Nirvana, Soundgarden
2 July 2013, 16:41
Filed under: Veterans | Tags: , , , , ,

XBradTC ran across a great article discussing the career of the long-haired bass player for Nirvana and Soundgarden who ended up deploying multiple times with a completely different kind of metal….

An Interesting Bio.

Farewell Haka by New Zealand troops
28 August 2012, 18:00
Filed under: Veterans | Tags: , , , , ,

I’ve seen a few rugby matches involving New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks perform their Haka, Ka Mate, before matches and could not helped but be moved by it. The power and intensity of the players is conveyed so movingly. For those not familiar, nomadone described it:

Haka –sometimes termed a posture dance could also be described as a chant with actions. There are various forms of haka; some with weapons some without, some have set actions others may be ‘free style.’ Haka is used by Māori (indigenous people of New Zealand) for a myriad of reasons; to challenge or express defiance or contempt, to demonstrate approval or appreciation, to encourage or to discourage, to acknowledge feats and achievements, to welcome, to farewell, as an expression of pride, happiness or sorrow. There is almost no inappropriate occasion for haka; it is an outward display of inner thoughts and emotions. Within the context of an occasion it is abundantly clear which emotion is being expressed.

Three members of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, Corporal Luke Tamatea, Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker and Private Richard Harris, who were killed in an improvised explosive device (IED) incident on 19 August in Bamyan Province in Afghanistan returned home. Their battalion expressed their emotion at the return of their comrades and the video has been shared.

Though their land and uniform may not be ours, in our shared fight, the loss is felt here as well.

Man’s best friend
2 March 2012, 17:11
Filed under: Marines, Military Working Dogs | Tags:

Every morning, when our cute Cavalier, Henry, and I walk around our neighborhood, he inspects every piece of ground, ensuring that nothing has changed without his notice. Fortunately, a patch of over-turned earth or another tell-tale sign of recent digging won’t indicate the presence of an IED. There are no insurgents watching us ‘patrol’ (which is good, since I’m usually reading the sports section and would be an easy mark). However, when Marine Lance Corporal Brandon Mann and his military working dog, Ty, venture out near Sre Kala and Paygel in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the threat is real and imminent. I’d like to think Henry would have my back as Ty has LCPL Mann’s, but I’m glad that he doesn’t need to. Many thanks to the both of them and our other men, women and animals in the service for keeping us safe. Semper Fi, Devil Dogs! See their photo on BlackFive.

SGT Dakota Meyer, MOH

On “60 Minutes” last night, Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer said “You either get them out alive or you die trying. If you didn’t die trying, you didn’t try hard enough.”

It’s heart-crushing to know that this young man, who braved heavy enemy fire five times, saving 36 of his comrades, sounds as if he feels, at his core, that he failed. One thing that comes out when you talk to veterans is the guilt they feel for surviving when othes did not. It seems that those who are marked by receiving the Medal of Honor feel that burden even more so. I think of Audie Murphy and how he struggled with the burden, or John Basilone, who eagerly went back to “his boys” in combat in the Pacific. We can look to the flag-raisers from Iwo Jima and read in Flags of Our Fathersjust how difficult it is to be in the blazing focus of publicity.

SGT Meyer’s actions on 8 September 2009 were simply astounding. He feels not only that any other Marine would have done just as he did, but also that Army Captain William Swenson has been unjustly denied any recognition for his actions that day. Two other Marines, Captain Ademola Fabayo and Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions, but the paperwork for any recognition for Captain Swenson was “lost”. Swenson quite rightly had criticized the officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce for refusing to provide either air or fire support during the six-hour firefight. His criticism was confirmed when a military investigation cited those officers for negligence, effectively ending their careers.

Meyer had volunteered for Afghanistan when 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines was deploying to Iraq. The Scout-Sniper became a part of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, helping to train Afghani troops. First Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin “Wayne” Johnson, Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton led a combined force into Ganjgal, expecting to meet with village elders and instead being ambushed. When neither air support nor fire support was provided to the surrounded Marines, Meyer looked over to Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez and said, “We’re going in.” In five trips in and out of the kill zone, Meyer, the Staff Sergeant, Swenson, Ademola and an Afghan interpreter named Fazel, were able to save 36 Americans and Afghanis. They could not, however, reach the Marines in time to save them.

There are 85 living members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and I’ve read that Meyer has already had advice from Salvatore Giunta. Robert Maxwell told me that the Society has annual meetings and my hope is that SGT Meyer will attend, listen and share his experience with the others who have borne this burden for many years.

“If I get it, it’s good because it’s good for the Marine Corps, it’s good for the guys and it’s good for the parents. But I’m not in it for me,” he said. “These guys gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and their families have to live with it. If they give it to me, it’s not for me. It’s for those guys and their families.”

UPDATE: Meyer has applied to become a New York City fireman. He had missed the deadline for applications to join the FDNY by a number of hours, but the city has reversed course and plans to accept his application.

SFC Leroy Petry, Medal of Honor

When you walk through the bunkers at Pointe du Hoc, or look down the cliffs, or notice how intact the bunkers are after thousands of bombs and 67 years, you wonder how it could ever have been taken. Colonel Rudder led 225 men of the 2nd Ranger Battalion up the cliffs and into the bunkers. Where do we find men such as these?

In Sante Fe, New Mexico, Steven Drysdale and his cousin, Leroy Petry, were inseperable. As boys do, they fought each other occasionally, but “Everybody liked Leroy. He was always smiling, laughing, bonding with people.” Petry wanted to join the Army since he was seven years old. After Steven joined the Army and became a Ranger, Leroy followed suit.

On Memorial Day, 2008, near Paktia, Afghanistan, Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, of the 2nd Ranger Battalion, and another Ranger advanced into the courtyard of a compound in Afghanistan and came under fire. During the fight, after Petry had already been shot through both legs, a grenade was tossed near Petry and his comrades. He moved to it and picked it up to toss it away, thinking, “It was probably going to kill all three of us. I had time to visually see the hand grenade. And I figure it’s got about a four-and-half second fuse, depending on how long it has been in the elements and the weather and everything and how long the pin has been pulled. I figure if you have time to see it you have time to kick it, throw it, just get it out there.”

Petry was wrong about the time on the fuse, but right in his instincts. Unfortunately, when the grenade exploded, it amputated his right hand. He put a tourniquet on himself, reported his wound and continued to communicate until they had eliminated the opposition.

Petry has reenlisted and plans a long career in the Army, helping other servicemembers who have lostt limbs readapt to society.

I guess we find these men on playgrounds in New Mexico, in the streets of New York, the hills of Tennessee or just about anywhere you search in this great country of ours.

Weekend Wanderings: NCAA Opening Weekend

I don’t watch much basketball, but you can’t help but dive into the NCAA tournament with gusto. I absolutely love it because you see the raw emotions and the stunning extra effort put forth by young men striving together for a goal. What makes it both sad and joyous is that at the end of March Madness, we have only one team on top. So, I’ll spend a lot of my free time over the next few weeks watching a bunch of boys run up and down a court with a ball. I’ll scream and shout. I’ll laugh and I’ll cry. I always told my Boy Scouts that what is interesting about sports is one of the main thing that is interesting about studying war – it exposes the struggles of men and allows you to see them triumph or fail.

  • In a completely different vector, Eric Wittenburg posted a letter from Bud Hall, great-grandson of a Mississippi Confederate in Barksdale’s brigade and a Viet Nam veteran himself, on the true cause of the Civil War. Hall quotes Longstreet and Mosby.
  • 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines is coming home. My high school classmate, LT Bill Hlavin, serves as the Chaplain for 3/25. Bill had previously served as a Naval officer on a destroyer and as an NROTC instructor before entering the ministry. He offered a prayer before their deployment, and again, as they finished their tour, he published another, “3rd Battalion, 25th Marines has been officially relieved of all duties in Afghanistan. We’ll be on our way home soon. Thanks be to God!”

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