Sunday, November 23, 2014

Basking in the Glory of Army's Win Over Fordham

Army 42, Fordham 31. Ahhhh.... Next up: You-Know-What. I may need extra chocolate just to get me through the next couple weeks.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cooking With the Troops Prepares a Thanksgiving Feast

The turkey is smoked, and the fixin's are in the oven. Tomorrow Cooking With the Troops descends upon Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, to serve up a feast to our beloved troopies. For now, though, our aprons are on, and we are in the kitchen! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weather Envy Continues: Training Atop the Sands of Hawaii Without a Snow Suit

The Army says this is a waterborne challenge test in Hawaii. Well, alrighty, then. The only thing I notice is, this soldier isn't wearing a snow suit. Or jacket. Or much of anything, for that matter...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Speaking of Winter Training: Camp Pendleton Also Remains Snow-Free

Weather envy continues. The Marine Corps' Sgt. Emmanuel Ramos recently captured these images of training involving one of those way-cool Osprey aircraft. It looks as if it isn't snowing at Camp Pendleton, either. Sigh...

More warmth, after the jump...

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Emboldened Moscow: Remembering Defector Yuri Nosenko

I just can't quit the Cold War. I first wrote this post a couple years ago, when Yuri Nosenko, a famous Soviet defector, died. Now, in light of fresh shenanigans from Moscow, I keep going back, especially to Nosenko. Nearly 50 years after he first fled the USSR, and 80 years after his birth, his case remains intriguing. 

By modern standards, this may not sound like much; but I clearly remember that one of the most frightening episodes of my childhood was when it emerged that Soviet agents had bugged the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. 

In those days, the Cold War was very much a simmering brew that seemed destined to spill into hot war at any provocation. The hidden microphones, announced in 1964, were discovered after a KGB defector dropped the dime on his former bosses. That whistleblower, Yuri Nosenko, died on 2008 while living in secret in the U.S. under an assumed name.

Nosenko had a rough time defecting. He crossed over shortly after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. In those tumultuous days, Nosenko became caught in the crossfire of an intense internal war within CIA. Opposing factions within the agency held vehemently different views on whether CIA had been infiltrated by foreign agents, and whether certain communist defectors were legitimate. 

Although Nosenko provided good information on the embassy bugs, other factors surrounding his defection aroused such suspicion that the defector was placed in long term solitary confinement and was interrogated under horrific conditions. Although Nosenko officially was found to be a genuine defector, debate persists to this day. Was he real? Was he a Soviet plant? Was he a mix of both? The only person who knew the full truth has now, like a good spy, taken his secrets to the grave. Meanwhile, as we are beginning to see from current events and en emboldened Putin,  we still have reason to cast a wary eye on Moscow.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rangers in Winter: Weather Envy Strikes

For those of you who are chilling out, literally, in the clutches of the Polar Veloceraptor (or whatever it's called), I thought I would warm you up with images of our treasured Green Berets and Army Rangers training in winter. In Florida. Sorry about that. I couldn't resist; they just look so happy in their kayaks. Army photog Capt. Thomas Cieslak captured them in action last month at Eglin AFB.

More frolicking, after the jump. Hand me my Polar fleece jacket, will ya, guys? The sight of all that water is giving me the shivers...

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014

From the Pup Tent: A Dog and Horsie Two-fer!

It's bonanza day for the Pup Tent: A dog-and-horsie twofer! This is one from the archives, when the USAF still ran Howard AFB in Panama. The base had more than a dozen miles of unfenced jungle perimeter. What better way to patrol it than with the help of two trusty four footers? Pictured here before 1999, when Howard was transferred to Panama, are Senior Airman Jimmy Jones with his MWD and Staff Sgt. Max Talley. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Maxine and Veterans, Part Two: Thank You, and Bravo Zulu!

This just in from Navig8r, who spotted this pic on a calendar. It makes a great sequel to the previous dustup involving Maxine (see Popular Posts, at left). Thank you, Hallmark! Bravo Zulu to you and Maxine!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Dear SKK: Eric Frein Read Your Blog While in Hiding

A source connected to law enforcement told me Eric Frein read this blog while in hiding following the shootings of two Pennsylvania State Police officers. I have no idea whether this is true, but if so, I wonder: are any of the hundreds of comments on the Frein posts from him? At some point, I would like to arrange a jailhouse interview to ask what this all was about. I won't hold my breath. Even Frein's lawyer couldn't see him when he first arrived to meet his new client.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Giving Thanks to Veterans on Their Special Day

To all of you who wore the uniform in service to our country: Happy Veterans Day. Thank you, always, for your service. I am forever indebted.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Black Knights, Let's Play Some Football

Come on, guys. I'm rooting for you. Honest. Today against Connecticut, at Yankee Stadium.

Friday, November 7, 2014

From the Pup Tent: Dog on a Rope!

Madre mia, that's a dog on a rope! Not just any dog, though: a military working dog. In this shot, Cpl. Caleb Owens fast ropes with his canine, Dixie,at the Camp Hansen rappel tower. Marines fast roped with their dogs for the first time in preparation for future exercises. Owens is a military working dog handler with 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan C. Mains

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Politics and Eric Frein: A Very Grumpy Observation

Stalwart commenter Grumpy sends an intriguing observation on Eric Frein:

"From your perspective, do you think the whole Frein / PA State Police controversy has anything to do with the election of Democrat Tom Wolf over incumbent Republican Gov. Tom Corbett? If we look at everything, the approach taken by LE is now understood on a completely different level. We are talking about the difference between theoretical and experiential understandings. The citizenry of PA need to learn how to use the lessons learned. This fiasco has put everything and everyone under the spotlight."

The short answer is, I have no clue. But l'affaire Frein is filled with such oddity on both sides of the story, that the involvement of politics just may be part of the equation. The good people of Pennsylvania would be in the best position to speculate.

Thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Real v Rhetorical Hope: Thank You, Fellow Americans

It's a great day to be an American. Thank you, fellow citizens. You have restored real hope, not the rhetorical kind. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Old Mossback Reflects on the Good Old Days: Contracting at Camp Doha, 1995

Old Mossback has been leafing through his diaries lately, in search of tales from his storied past. Herewith one from 20-some years ago, when he was but a young contractor, fresh out of Contractor Camp. Or something.

Take it away, Mossy...

Looking back on my years working in the overseas security field, without a doubt my first contract back in 1995 was the most interesting, frustrating, disappointing and fun filled contract that I ever worked on. 

The head office of the AM-PRO protective agency was located at a Columbia, SC strip mall and that was a red flag if there was ever was one. Retired from the Navy months earlier, I needed employment. Via the rent-a-cop grapevine located in Northern Virginia I found out that AM-PRO was hiring security officers for a Department of Energy site located in Washington, D.C. I applied.  According to AM-PRO, the fact I was not a felon with no outstanding warrants assured my acceptance into the DOE security program. I was accepted for training. 

Things went well. During the training class it was announced that AM-PRO was looking for people to apply for the Camp Doha, Kuwait contract, and only the best of the best would be accepted (yeah,right). 

Weeks later in April, 1995 I was wheels up from Dulles Airport to Kuwait City, Kuwait. The salary was $11.27 an hour, $27 a day per diem, shared apartment, 30 days paid vacation a year, 1.5 round trip airfare a year to and from home of record, and after three years, a $7200 end-of-contract bonus.

Days later I was on the wire patrol at Camp Doha, by myself, armed with an M-16A2, and an M-9 Beretta, humming to myself the Ballad of the Green Berets and hoping that nothing bad would happen. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

A Very Grumpy Birthday Celebration!

Cake and candles go out today for our very own Grumpy: commenter extraordinaire; dispenser of wisdom; asker of riddles. How do I know it's his birthday? I took Grumpy's advice to heart, and did my homework... 

Navig8r Writes: The Small Ironies of Life as a Search and Rescue Volunteer. (A YCMTSU story)

Our faithful contributor Navig8r sends a tale of SAR in Arizona. Make that, SAR training. Oh, and extra points (or Get-out-of-Campfire Duty chits) to the first person to translate YCMTSU. Meanwhile... Take it away, Nav..

Nav's official logo!
It was a typical Saturday afternoon training session at West Cochise Stronghold.  The weather was warm, like most Saturday afternoons in southern Arizona.

The ropes, anchors, pulleys, and slings were all rigged.  The team was practicing high angle raising and lowering techniques with the Arizona Vortex (big expensive tripod).

We use it to reduce friction by keeping the ropes up off the ground where they go over the edge of the cliff, and to get the load high enough above the edge of the cliff so we can swing it over instead of dragging it over the edge. 

We were doing our normal routine of rotating everyone through all the different jobs in the system, working the edge, providing muscle on the haul line, operating the safety brakes on the haul line and the belay line, operating the braking device on the lower line, and last, but not least, attendant being raised or lowered, sometimes tending the stokes litter. This last position is sometimes referred to as ‘the dope on the rope.’ Once you go over the edge, your skill counts for little since you are then dependent entirely on the crew on top running the system. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Eric Frein Captured: Will the Truth Now Be Told?

Now that fugitive Eric Frein is in police custody, the saga takes a fresh turn. I hope that more information will come out, and the truth finally be told. What were his motives for any part of this? Did he commit the crimes he is accused of? If so, why? Did he have help? Did he have other plans beyond hiding from police? How did he get the gash on his nose? And why, after seven weeks on the lam, was he captured clean-shaven? 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed theories and observations on the Eric Frein situation. The posts and comment threads can be found here. I am eager to see whether our theories match any potion of the truth. And if we ever have another mystery here on the blog, I hope you all come back with your magnifying glasses!

Captured in Time for Halloween! Blog Uncovers Secret DARPA-Like Ghost Horse Program

The blog just loves to dress up for Halloween. Previously,  she went as an Air Force sniper

This year, the blog wants to do something spooky and FX-ish. This is... well, maybe it has something to with Operation Stargate

Or maybe it involves my way-cool California friend and former roomie, Lisa, and her hossie Stitches. But if it really is Lisa and Stitches, how did we make that picture? Hmm? 

It's a ghost, I tell you. Working for DARPA. There is no other explanation. 

And to think: The blog uncovered it just in time for Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Another Day Aboard the USS Vinson: Somewhere at Sea, With Hornets

An F/A-18E Super Hornet sits on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson at sea. The Carl Vinson and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 17, are deployed supporting maritime security operations, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The aircraft is assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 81. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class John Philip Wagner, Jr.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Madison Rising Rocks the Marine Corps Hymn: A Treat for the Spirit

I can't stop listening to Madison Rising's take on the Marine Corps Hymn - and I'm a Hooah! The birthday gift song is upbeat, powerful, catchy, and a treat for the spirit. Here's what the band's poobah-in-chief, Rich Mgrdechian, writes on the birthday card:

Madison Rising - America's most patriotic rock band - is proud to salute the United States Marine Corps on their upcoming 239th birthday (November 10, 2014) with our very special rock rendition of the song each and every Marine knows by heart. 

Semper Fi our brothers and sisters. Semper Fi.

Listen for free,  here.

Available for purchase only at the Madison Rising store.

I am proud of these guys. So, so proud!

More on New Songs From Madison Rising

Further to my post from the other day... Madison Rising poobah-in-chief Rich Mgrdechian tells me one of the new songs could be released soon. As in, very very soon. Hmmm... I wonder if there is anything significant about the timing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

I Have Not Reached Alaska...

I've had a few emails asking if I am in Alaska. No. I am not. But I've seen some great things on this road trip! More pics to come...

Monday, October 27, 2014

In Which Quartermaster Tips Me Off on Alaskan Seismology

I think he wants to warn me about this road trip with Little Squid. Take it away, Quartermaster...

Since our gracious hostess invited me to write a bit, I thought I would say a bit about the seismic activity around Southern Alaska, where our gracious hostess is thinking of running away from home to (Yes I ended the sentence with a preposition. Sue me!).

It does rock-n-roll a bit there since there is a subduction zone off southern AK, and those zones tend to produce the most powerful quakes, as well volcanoes. The region is part of the Pacific “Ring Of Fire” for very good reason.

The most interesting part of this is the pic I put together for the post from the USGS Earthquake center (see below, after the jump). 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Jeepstakes Continues: An Offering Via Craigslist?

Another entry for the Jeepstakes! Thank you, Toni WhoDat and J'Alan J'Alexander, but... I can't see how this possibly could clear even a speed bump being so low to the ground! I'd rather have something lifted. Or at least normal height. No, lifted. I want something lifted....

Saturday, October 25, 2014

On the Road With Little Squid: A Tag-Team Jaunt to Alaska (Sort of)

Earlier this month, I mentioned I was planning to take a road trip with Little Squid. A frequent presence here at The Compound, La Squidlet now is out of the Navy and headed for Alaska - with me along for a portion of the journey, tag-team style. In other words, we're traveling in tandem, but not in the same vehicle. Which makes for lots of phone calls and "where-you-at?" texts (but not while driving!)

So there we were, packed and fueled and ready to go, and primed for adventure. Squid went first, her trusty canine Koda riding shotgun in the Squidmobile. I took the rear guard - where beautiful scenery quickly came into view.

I spent my first night on the road off road. In a woodsy cabin, to be exact.

My cabin was rustic and cozy. But it also had modern convenience.

Note the lights shining through the windows? I had electricity. I also had a microwave oven so as to melt chocolate for some field-expedient s'mores. I even had a refrigerator, so as to maintain a supply of cold water.

The cabin had a living room and a bunk room. The bunk room slept... well... I'm not sure. I guess it depends on how many folks you could squeeze into a set of double-decker beds, a sleep-sofa, and a big-ol' Queensize.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comparing Eric Frein's "Grenade" to a Pill Bottle: Navig8r Spots Some Relevant Features

One of these is an improvised grenade. Another is a pill bottle. Our faithful Navig8r has some thoughts on how they compare. Coming soon to a comment thread near you...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Standing Fast With Our Maple Leaf Friends

...and keeping close watch on events in Ottawa. Sending prayers, good thoughts, and undying support.

Good News for Madison Rising Fans: New Songs on the Way!

Madison Rising fans, take note! My good friend Rich Mgrdechian, who runs the band, tells me he plans to release two new songs this fall. Rich was kind enough to let me hear previews. Even though I can't link to them yet, I will say with confidence: You will love the new songs! Seriously. Oh, and you might want to set aside some tissues for listening to one. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In Which Quartermaster Moves to Protect Our Chocolate Supply

In the ongoing quest to divert Minicapt from the chocolate supply here at The Compound... Quartermaster has sent more bait. The chocolate supply remains protected for now. Although, Minicapt informs me that a threat looms on the horizon. 

For those who are new to this blog and our collection of inside jokes, the s'mores situation is outlined here, where I explain Campfire Duty, the Vietnam Rule, and other matters.

But I digress. Back to the diversion I go.

Here, Minicapt. Have a S'mores Blizzard Treat. It's good. Just like a real s'more. Honest.

Monday, October 20, 2014

An Old Conflict Intersects With a New: A Civil War Tale With a Twist, Via Fishmugger

Old wars sometimes intersect with new; but rarely with a twist like you'll find in the following story from our faithful reader Fishmugger. The tale meanders through interesting territory while proceeding toward its concluding wake-up call. I think you'll enjoy it. So grab a hot s'more and settle in for the story. 

Take it away, Fishmugger... 

Bedminster, New Jersey is a rural community of mostly large farms and estates. Betty Merck has a few hundred acres. Robert Woods Johnson of J &J fame and owner of the Jets has a little over a thousand acres. Jim Brady Jr. has the tail end of his father’s large holding, Diamond Jim. And we have a number of neuvo-type people like Former Gov Christie Whitman. The town also has within its boundaries the US Equestrian Team’s training headquarters. A very American fantasy place. People actually ride to the hounds on most summer weekends.

Lamington is now a section of Bedminster. It used to be an independent town but has since been absorbed. The white painted Presbyterian Church is 250 years old, and Lamington was once a stop along the Underground Railroad back before the Civil War. It was mostly a Black community; it no longer is. 

If not nurtured and preserved, history gets lost. Part of the history of Lamington and the Church was lost for many years.

A cemetery was lost. The Church has its regular cemetery where its parishioners are still buried, but the other cemetery, the lost cemetery, was down a dirt road and overgrown with woods. Nobody living today knew it was there. 

One day the parson of the church discovered some old papers that spoke about the other cemetery. He set off to find it. It took a couple of trips, but the cemetery was found. The parson spoke of his discovery to the parish, and an Eagle Scout came forward to volunteer to clean up the old site. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Old Mossback Spots a Tiger: On Screen, While Watching FURY

The Old Mossback has climbed out of his hot tub long enough to go to the movies! He graciously has offered to give us his reaction to the new Brad Pitt flick, Fury. Take it away, Mossy...

It was a long wait for yours truly, but today I finally was able to watch the movie Fury starring the only remaining operational Tiger 1 tank in the world.

As far as the audience was concerned, Brad Pitt was playing second chair. We wanted to see the Tiger 1 in action. Every time the Shermans turned a corner, crossed a tree line, or rode up a hill, the rest of the audience and were on the edge of our seats waiting for the Tiger 1 to appear.

New audiences will not be disappointed when the Tiger 1 does enter the movie - and does so with a bang.

Not to be a spoiler, I will say this much: there is far more to see and enjoy when watching this movie. Someone in Hollywood must have had a vision: film a WW2 movie using real WW2 gear and weapons, and the people will enjoy what is produced.