February 26, 2005
Daily Collegian, Redux
On Thursday, I posted an editorial originally published in The Daily Collegian, by Thomas Naughton who presumably is a student at the University of Massachussetts. Mr. Naughton left this comment on the post:
To Whom it may Concern-
and the perspicacious JHD replied:
Thomas, you simply do not get it. And you never will. Why? Because you haven't earned the understanding. Intellectual interpretations can only go so far. You cannot separate the man/woman from the mission. You cannot understand that there troops ARE protecting your freedom to receive your offers from "venerable magazines". You will never, ever understand the concept that our men and women in uniform BELIEVE IN THE MISSION! They are not forced or drafted, just simply volunteers. They are not ignorant or lacking in opinion. Truthfully they are mainstream Americans with something more than you will understand! What you believe is just fake patriotism is something so real the blood of our Country flows through it.
I received a note of explanation from Mr. Naughton - not an apology, as he was careful to point out - that he was misunderstood, as those who say unpopular things often are. Deja vu. Michael Moore all over again. To me, there is nothing especially praiseworthy about stealing yellow ribbon magnets from other people's cars. It's just petty theft and shows a callous disregard toward the feelings of those who placed them there. But hey! His guilt must be assuaged. So, it's okay and the hell with everyone else.
I've lost a number of yellow ribbons from my car in the past year. Some were personalized with my son's name and rank, others just as they came from the package. And, thank God Wal-Mart is offering them for $1.50 - any profit margin on this item must be minimal. But my reasons for showing my support of our troops in a tangible way have nothing to do with "blindness or ignorance". For the past year, this site and other milblog sites have posted story after story about the incredible rebirth happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two brutal regimes overthrown. 50 million people freed from despotic rule. I wonder how much effort Mr. Naughton has put into understanding the other side? And I wonder, where is the blindness and ignorance?
Connie related a recent lunch conversation where the viewpoint was expressed that the U.S. shouldn't be in Iraq and that our troops should come home now. The conversation ended when one woman observed, "Most of my family is Jewish. I can tell you that we are very grateful to the United States for intervening in WWII when they did." The historical parallels are similar. And it may be that a generation from now, the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan will be thought of the same way by future descendents. In the meantime, I - and countless other Marine parents, spouses, grandparents, children - will continue to support not only our troops but their mission . . . and their Commander in Chief.
Mr. Naughton, why do you think my son, Connie's son, JHD's son and countless others like them chose to join the Corps. It's not because they didn't have choices. There are many parents just like me who would have happily paid tuition at any college. But they looked beyond "what's in it for me" to "what can I give back". My son didn't suffer from "blind belief" as you charge - he shipped to boot camp on 9/13/02, knowing full well that he would almost certainly see action. But his love for his family, country, and Corps was prioritized before his own comfort and self-actualization. As JHD said, you have no idea what real patriotism is. The difference between patriotism and jingoism is like the distance between the deep and lasting love of a family and a cheap porn flick watched by yourself.
Mr. Naughton, have you ever talked with Gold Star parents? I have. I've attended funerals for fallen heroes and prayed that they would never have to do the same for me. I've cried with them, laughed with them, and shared the memories of their precious sons - sons whose lives were cut far too short but who lived with honor and dignity and were the absolute best this country had to offer. They still support the troops and they still support the mission. And, they are still filled with pride and awe, knowing that their sons will never be forgotten by the extended Marine Corps Family. Will anyone be able to say that about you, stealer of yellow-ribbons?
2/10 Marines return home
2/10 Marines are home after a seven-month deployment to Iraq.
February 25, 2005
Midweek update from the Mayhem Marines
Here's another update from LtCol Mark Smith - if I weren't already a fan, his comments about the Oregon National Guard would have tipped that balance.
A mid-week "update" of sorts. As we continue to press the attack against our evil and cowardly enemy, and since chopping from the 2 BCT to the 5 BCT, we continue to receive enormous support and forces in the Mayhem AO. Some of those forces are from a National Guard Battalion, a company of which is from Oregon and depicted in the below article, who was chopped to the Mayhem Battalion a couple of weeks ago. Now, these Warriors have been OUTSTANDING. I say that for two reasons:
Oregon National Guard working with 2/24 Marines
Major Arnold V. Strong, Public Affairs Officer for the Oregon National Guard, has been a lot of help to the Oregon Marine Corps Moms with past projects. Here's a story he recently released about the Oregon National Guard in Iraq, currently attached to the Mad Ghosts:
Six Roadside bombs. Three days. No casualties. An enemy on the run is a good enemy. A sure sign that the insurgency is on the run and the coalition is continuing its progress. Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, of the Oregon National Guard is currently attached to the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines, a Marine Corps Reserve unit that can relate to the citizen-soldiers of Oregon in more ways than as foot soldiers.
Keeping Iraq Safer
February 24, 2005
Massachusetts tax dollars at work
Read this, then e-mail or call the Daily Collegian to express your view of the asshats who rip off yellow ribbon magnets. Especially this one, whose first amendment rights are protected by the troops he refuses to support. Bah.
By Thomas Naughton, Collegian columnist
To place an ad or speak to the Collegian:
The Massachusetts Daily Collegian
113 Campus Center Basement - UMass
Amherst, MA 01003
Contact the News Department
Email News at
Write for Ed/Op
Email editorial submissions to
1/7 Update - "We accomplished our mission"
Here is the latest update from Lt.Col. Woodbridge - homecoming is so close!
First off, let me apologize for not sending an update to this message for a while. As our deployment to Iraq comes to an end we have been any less busy, and most of the month of January was a blur of activity preparing for and conducting the Iraqi elections.
The Boys of Iwo Jima: The Story of Six Boys
Here's a moving story behind the story of Iwo Jima. When I posted this last February, I asked that anyone had the name of the author, that I'd love to give credit where credit was due. Since then, I've heard from the author, Michael Powers, who contacted me. His info is below this except from The Boys of Iwo Jima, one of the stories in the the book: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter by Michael T. Powers
Each year my video production company is hired to go to Washington, D.C. with the eighth grade class from Clinton, Wisconsin where I grew up, to videotape their trip. I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.
Michael T. Powers
Copyright Â© 2000 by Michael T. Powers
Michael T. Powers resides in Wisconsin with his wife Kristi. His stories appear in 22 inspirational books including his own entitled: Heart Touchers "Life-Changing Stories of Faith, Love, and Laughter." For a sneak peek or to join the thousands of readers on his inspirational e-mail list, visit: http://www.HeartTouchers.com. You can email him at: HeartTouchers@aol.com
Bradley's book, Flags of our Fathers is highly recommended. It's not a book that you sit down and read cover to cover in one sitting - it's graphic and the word images evoke strong emotional response. I had to walk away and come back several times - but I always came back.
February 23, 2005
Carrying on the tradition of Iwo Jima
60 years ago today, February 23, 1945, two American flags were raised on Mount Suribachi. The first flag was a photo opportunity and the Marines who carried it posed at the photographer’s direction. Even so, the sight of this flag, fluttering over the beach where thousands of Marines had lost their lives in a brutal battle, was a potent symbol of victory over a fierce enemy. The battle lasted 36 days and resulted in 25,851 casualties, including almost 7,000 deaths of Marines and Sailors. But when the flag went up, Marines on the beachhead below raised their voices, cheering as conquering warriors. They were heroes, all. And it’s worth noting that 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for exceptional bravery during that battle – out of 84 total MOHs during WWII. And, James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, commented to Commanding Officer Howlin’ Mad Smith, “Holland, the raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”
The first flag was short lived – it was removed as battalion property and a second flag raised in its place. The raising of that second flag, captured on film by photographer Joe Rosenthal, is a symbol for eternity. Symbols have power. The raising of the flag stands for victory over oppression, the triumph of good over evil. Marines, more than any other branch of the service understand that symbolism.
The Marine Corps Hymn, sacred to all former and present Marines, contains the line, “Our flag’s unfurl’d to every breeze from dawn to setting sun” In every victorious battle, the American flag has been raised however briefly. When the statue of Sadaam came down in Baghdad, the American flag was unfurl’d to be immediately replaced by the Iraqi flag. As it should be. But the imagery lives on.
And, when Fallujah fell last fall, our Marines raised flags of victory in the tradition of Iwo Jima. Our Marines understand full well that the reason for this war in Iraq was the war waged on us when over 3,000 were killed on September 11, 2001. When the Battle of Fallujah was concluded last November, the brave warriors of 3/1, under the command of Co. Willy Buhl, reenacred the flagraising at Iwo Jima. Here’s the story behind it from John Wintersteen, Adjutant - Mt. Diablo Det. 942, Marine Corps League:
Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardmen, Seabees and Patriots - One of our adopted units, 3rd Bn, 1st Marines, the "Thundering Third", has planted the Four Flags that flew at Ground Zero in December, onto the soil of Fallujah, Iraq. Marines from India, Kilo and Lima companies are shown in the accompanying photos, sent to us by Col Willy Buhl, CO of 3/1. I have forwarded these photos to Lt. Mary Ellen Ferris and Lt. Joe Randazzo of the NYPD, who arranged for this chain of events. To think that Mt. Diablo Detachment was honored by having our picture taken with these flags on 18 December, and to ship them to the Colonel a week later to make the connection between the NYPD/NY Port Authority PD and the Marines, is very special to me. Another key person in the exchange is MSGT John Mitchell, USMC (Ret.), (Chosin Survivor, Korean War) and friend I made in 2000 at the first reunion of my Boot Camp Platoon at Parris Island (Plt 208 - 1959). John is Mary Ellen's cousin and because of that connection, we were contacted and asked to find a unit to which the Flags should be sent. Col Buhl's 3rd Bn, 1st Marines was a natural since he kept us constantly updated with situation reports and acknowledged our shipments several times. Not only that, he is from Los Gatos, CA - a homeboy, so to speak. Another connection for me is his Kilo Company Commander, Captain Tim Jent, a lad from Sparta, New Jersey - great memories of Lake Mohawk. If it weren't for the fact that our Detachment started shipping boxes after the death and in honor of Lance Corporal Kyle Crowley - San Ramon, California - we would never have been involved in what I consider a historic, symbolic event. Our shipments are the reason we were contacted in the first place. And, all of our beloved Contributors are a part of this too. All of those who sent donations and all of those who brought us goods to ship are connected to the planting of those Flags. When you look at those tough, young Marines planting those Flags, pat yourselves on the back, would you? Be proud that you helped the NYPD and the NYPAPD honor our Marines and all troops by helping with Project Marine Care. In turn, these pictures and a video of these Flags flying will help those Police Departments honor the 60 people they lost on 9-11. I hope you feel as touched as I do. If this helps raise the morale of those Marines and those Police Officers one iota, then we have done our job.
p.s. Besides the American Flag, the other three flags are the NYPD (with green stripe), the NY Port Authority Flag (multi-colored) and the World Trade Center Flag (Twin Towers) - that Flag was designed by the NY Port Authority Police Dept. and they are responsible for Ground Zero.
Planning for homecoming
For some families, the countdown to our Marine's homecoming is almost in single digits. Almost. Others are just starting the adventure, but the focus for each of us is the same - our son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister stepping off the bus and into our waiting arms.
The anticipation can overwhelm the reality and it's good to know what to expect. Chaplain Benson with the CSSB-7 has these words of wisdom, primarily for spouses but they apply to parents as well.
Principles to live by in reuniting:
When my son came home from OIF1 in October 2003, he had served in a relatively safe place. Najaf was a holy city and the people there loved the Marines. When my son stood guard, men from the city would bring their chairs and sit with the Marines as a show of solidarity and support. When 1/7 left Najaf to return home, citizens lined the streets as the convoy left town. Many wept.
So, when he stepped off the bus, he was happy to be home and his stress level was relatively low. I didn't know what to expect so I didn't make any plans beyond that first hug. After the company had a brief formation and were released to their anxious families, we walked up the hill to his new home in the barracks. The boxes of belongings that he'd left in storage prior to deployment were waiting for him and, like a Marine, he attended to business. Each box was unpacked and his belongings stowed in the available storage space. On the inside flap of each box was a handwritten scrawl, "I love you Mom". As he unpacked, he explained that if he didn't come back, he wanted me to know that. And, he didn't understand why I cried. I still have those pieces of cardboard - they're in his baby book with tiny inked footprints and a lock of hair from his first haircut.
After he'd finished his on base business, he told me he'd like to visit Los Angeles, so we headed west. When we hit the city limits, it was after midnight and we found the nearest In-N-Out Burger - there's nothing like that in Iraq. The reverse culture shock was significant; we walked in at the same time a performing group tour bus pulled in. Shane looked at the musicians spilling from the bus - blue hair, amazing clothes, rapping and clapping - and muttered, "I want to go back to Iraq".
Over the next few days, he adjusted to his return home. Having choices was a novelty. I learned very quickly that when we went into a restaurant that he would order everything that he'd missed while deployed, but eat just a few bites. Not a problem. It was good to see him satisfied and I didn't order for myself - instead, I ate what he couldn't. He thought he might like to go to Disneyland, so we checked into a hotel across the street from the main gate. Although we walked around the Downtown Disney part, we didn't go in the parks. Choices. He had spent the last seven months following a very regimented lifestyle. Now, he was home and the variety of options was disorienting. So, he set the pace and by the end of three days, he was somewhat back to normal.
This time will be different. His company has been in a volatile area for seven months and they've seen significant action. Again, I'm not making any plans past that first hug - he'll set the pace and I'll accomodate him. He thinks he wants to go to Vegas and I'm looking forward to that 220 mile drive. 4 hours of reconnecting as a family is going to be a very short trip.
February 22, 2005
"Little by little, success comes"
Col. Tucker, Commanding Officer for RCT-7, has been busy for the last few months - this update tells why:
It has been 4 months since I have written. Much has passed in those months: a time of great victories, an election, the emergence of a competent, professional Iraqi Army and Police units who stand to their tasks, and a tipping point in this battle against terror and evil.
Ok…just one picture today. And there is a story to go with it.
February 21, 2005
THIS WAS A VERY GOOD WEEK!!!
More from the awesome warriors of 2/24:
Greetings. I hope beyond hope that this letter finds you in high spirits, good health, and planning feverishly for that day when you will be reunited with your beloved Marine or Sailor, your Mad Ghost. It truly is rapidly approaching! Advance elements of the unit that will be replacing us are on deck and learning the Mayhem AO. And, I just completed a two hour orientation brief from my staff on redeployment planning. All of this is relayed to you so that you may know it is a horizon event, and you are rapidly approaching the spot where the sun meets the sea!
In each and every one of these operations, the insurgency learned, yet again, we go where we want, we go where they think we can't or WON'T, and we find them; we find their caches and we bring help, assistance and hope to those whom they have terrorized. During Red Mayhem III, some of the caches we found had been buried with all of the skill of a puppy first learning how to bury a bone. The Marines and Soldiers from the 1-7 CAV, as well as our Iraqi Army counterparts found them with relative ease and very early on in the operation. And, by the way, on this operation we assigned our Iraqi Army counterparts, for the first time, their own search sector. Marines from the Civil Action Platoon from Co E acted from overwatch only. And, if I might, the Iraqi Army performed magnificently! They found several caches of insurgent/terrorist weaponry, and they moved and acted like professional soldiers from start to finish. Yes, they are inching ever closer to the day that THEY WILL operate without US Forces, and will crush those who oppose law and order.
Posted by Deb at 09:09 PM
Connected to the Marine Corps Family
Connie and I will be guests on the new MSNBC show, Connected: Coast to Coast today, talking about how we cope with our sons' deployments and how we support other Marine Corps parents through our website and blog. Please tune in, then come back and give us a thumb's up or thumb's down!
February 20, 2005
Airport Gate Passes for Military Passenger Family Members
The TSA has put out a security directive that applies to Military Passengers. Security Directive 1544-01-10w explains how this works.
"Military Passenger" Family Members may be given a pass
- To escort the military passenger to the gate
- To meet a military passenger's inbound arrival at the gate.
Family members who want to escort the service member to the departure gate must request a pass when the service member checks in for his or her flight at the ticket window.
Family members who want to meet their returning hero at the arrival gate should check first at the USO Office if the airport has one. If not, they should request a pass at the ticket counter. In order to get through security checkpoints, every family member will need the gate pass and photo ID. Not all airports/airlines allow this but it might help for the service member to notify the departure airport that family members will be asking for gate passes at the other end.
This will be a welcome change for our troops - they won't have to wait as long for that first hug!
Semper superbus...nunca plenus
Major Holton from 2/24 Golf Company sends along this update from the sandbox:
This past week saw the return of 3rd Platoon to the company, after a period of about a month where they “belonged” to the army. They have continued to thrive in conducting the separate and critical mission of securing the Main Supply Route that runs through our area of operations. Without a doubt, they have experienced the roughest continuous living conditions of anyone in the battalion. To give you an idea of how others view them/us, when the army unit they worked with drove up for the first time to their positions, they asked, “Where do you stay at?” When the Marines replied, “We stay out here,” the soldiers shook their heads and said “We’re not staying out there.” But our guys do it, and they do it because a conscious decision has been made that this approach is the best way to accomplish the mission. Luckily, the company is blessed with a group of men who understand that mission accomplishment is not just important when the task is easy.
The past 10 days has been one of the most professionally rewarding periods of my life. The elections were a great accomplishment that every one of our Marines and sailors can be proud of for the rest of their lives. What occurred on that day, from the great turnout of voters, to the low effectiveness of violence by the insurgents, was a testament to all of the hard work that has been put into this area for the months leading up to them. We had the opportunity to help bring about a process that we take for granted in our country, but which I think meant a lot to the people of this country. Though in the big scheme of things, the elections were only one step, they were a huge step. If this country is ever going to be truly free, this step had to happen. And the fact that it did, almost flawlessly after all of the warnings and “doom and gloom” predictions, made it that much more impressive. After the elections, your Marines rolled right back into “normal” operations and has continued to push. Just yesterday, we conducted an operation that netted our company’s best one-day output of detained insurgents since we arrived here. We continue to execute in everything we are given. I feel confident that there is no tactical mission that can be given to us that we wouldn’t knock out of the park. Why do I feel that way? Because history and experience are the best gauges for predicting the future, and my history and experience with Golf Company is that we have succeeded in every tactical mission we have ever been given (now if we could stop losing gear, I may be able to remain as company commander until we get back to Wisconsin!). It really is neat to see the type of things that our guys do automatically now, and then to see the sum of all of the parts in operation. When we are in the middle of tactical operations, everyone knows what they are supposed to do, accepts their role, and then does it to the very best of their ability. It sounds so simple, but just those three actions, consistently applied, has been our secret of success. And it doesn’t just happen by chance. You should know that the Marines leading this company -- the platoon commanders, platoon sergeants, squad leaders, and all of the noncommissioned officers – continue to lead in the best way possible…by example. If there is one thing that I am proudest of within the company is that we don’t have Marines that lead by fear, directive, or rank alone.