Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Army's Golden Knights, Having Exited a Perfectly Good Airplane


Members of the U.S. Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights, perform an uncompressed three stack with the U.S., POW/MIA and the Army Flag during canopy training over Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Larry Miller.

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Lifesaving POW Tap Code in Vietnam; A Report From "Devil Dog Dad in Texas"

Smitty Harris, left, and the author, Colin Kimball

The POW Tap Code in Vietnam

By Colin Kimball, aka Devil Dog Dad in Texas

[Note from SKK: John McCain tried to teach me the Tap Code when I was researching my book, Prisoners of Hope. I never quite caught on; then again, I did not have the motivation that pushed these heroes to learn the lifesaving code.]

In the early 1960’s the United States Air Force shuttled pilots who were bound for Southeast Asia through a survival school outside Reno, Nevada. Most pilots, being single men, retired to the bright lights and beautiful ladies of Reno in the evenings after class in search of companionship and fun times with their buddies. Most, that is, except for one young devoutly married Air Force Captain, Carlyle “Smitty” Harris. Smitty carried on informal conversations with his instructors after hours and then retired to his barracks to go over the notes of the day.  

It was during one of these informal conversations that one instructor briefly mentioned a tap code based on a simple 5x5 grid of the alphabet, used by the British in World War II.  No formal instruction was given, just a brief conversation after class.

By 1965, young Captain Harris was assigned to the 45th Tactical Fighter wing, flying the F-105 Thunderchief, also known as the “Thud.” On his sixth combat mission on April 4th he was shot down by North Vietnamese gunners after successfully releasing his bombs on the Thanh Hoa Bridge, an important railroad crossing for the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 

Smitty became POW #5, the fifth American pilot to be held captive in Hoa Lo Prison, otherwise known as the Hanoi Hilton. 

After an extended period in total isolation, Smitty was placed in a room with three other POW's.  He took the opportunity to teach these men the tap code that he informally heard about while in Survival School a year earlier. These men passed it on to others. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

In Which Old Mossback Laments His Inability to Sell a Story to Soldier of Fortune

The Old Mossback was thrilled to learn of my resumed gig with Soldier of Fortune. Mossy has been texting me nonstop since he read the announcement. For years, now, he's been trying to sell a story to SOF, with no luck. He doesn't understand why, and wanted my feedback. Herewith, he now leaks our comms...

By Old Mossback

To all the fans of the SKK blog: I thought I would share just one of the texts SKK and I have exchanged. 

OMB: Congratulations of your recent coup with Soldier of Fortune magazine. I have been a long time fan of SOF.

SKK: Thank You. 

OMB: By the way, can I ask you something? 

SKK: Sure. 

OMB: For some time I have been sending articles to Soldier of Fortune, based upon my years as an overseas contractor. I have not heard a word from them. I was wondering as to why?

SKK: I am sort of glad you brought that up. It could be I know what the problem is. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Going Home to Soldier of Fortune: A Riveting Combat Tale, Headed Your Way

I love happy news; and this news has me ecstatic.

My byline once again shall appear in a magazine I flat-out LOVED writing for, and whose publisher is all hijinks, all the time - in a totally positive way, of course. I am delighted to be writing once again for my longtime alma mater, Soldier of Fortune.

In prior years, I shared some wacky adventures with the gang from SOF. As a writer for the magazine, I also tackled some great subjects: American POWs forgotten in Korea; a hypothetical war featuring the United States vs. China; American POWs in Vietnam; a predicted Soviet coup against Mikhail Gorbachev (a story that proved prescient, by the way) and much more. 

This new turn of journalistic events, then, for me is like going home. It makes me feel all warm and cozy. And to think: no hijinks were committed in the telling of the tale.

Stay tuned for updates. OpSec for now on my new story topic, but trust me: it's a riveting combat tale, and is beyond kickass. It will be worth waiting for. I promise.

wink emotico Stay tuned for my story to appear soon in Soldier of Fortune.Robert Brown. OpSec for now on the topic, but it's kickass.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Tale of a Soldier's Soldier, in GX Magazine

This is one of my all-time favorite stories to write, about a soldier's soldier; a man so heroic he should serve as inspiration for the next GI Joe doll. The story begins like this...

The Soldiers knew they were going to die. Their nine-man squad was fighting from an old Soviet outpost in the mountains of Kunar province, Afghanistan, surrounded by 60-plus determined enemies.

Read the rest here, in the current edition of the National Guard's GX magazine. Prepare to be shocked and awed...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Milspotters' Challenge: Name That Icon

We had a special visitor some years ago, out at the Tank Farm. Any guesses as to who is hanging out with Allan Cors and our friend Sherman?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On St. Patrick's Day, A Traditional Toast - er, Post, With a Side of Black Hawks

In honor of St. Patrick's Day... one of my all-time faves: The Minstrel Boy.

What? It's Irish. It's about war. And it's an excuse to watch one of the coolest-ever vids with helicopters and soldiers. What's not to post? Go ahead: ogle the pic. Crack open the Tullamore Dew. Think your rebellious and sentimental thoughts about Ireland, Brian Boru, and the bold Fenian Men. But save Minstrel Boy for last. The song words are after the jump. I'll even switch 'em to green.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Talking About Fort McClellan on Stand Tall Radio

Interested in learning more about the toxic exposure at Ft. McClellan? Click in to this program on Stand Tall Radio, where I appeared with fellow guests Joan Zakrocki and Jesse Smith. We talk about the exposures and the status of pending legislation to establish a health registry for Fort Mac veterans. I also address the challenges journalists face when writing about a story like Ft. McClellan.

Here's what The Fort Mac Vets have to say about us, in brief. You can read the rest here.

Susan heads the Facebook group page Ft. McClellan Health Registry Act which is full of information every Fort McClellan veteran will find helpful. In this broadcast she shares her thoughts on the Fort McClellan toxic exposure story from a journalist's point of view. Additionally Joan Zakrocki, a former U.S. Army Military Police officer, and Jesse Smith, former United States Congressional candidate, joined the program which proved to be very informative.

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Annual Erin Birthday Post

I think it was just the other day that I went into labor at the height of evening rush hour in downtown Washington, D.C. For the duration of that harrowing ride, which included a stop to fill a near-empty gas tank, it seemed as if my first baby would be born in the back seat of a Washington Times company car.

Instead, I made it to the hospital and gave birth to a child so precious, so blessed by angels and surrounded by pixy dust, that to this day she takes my breath away.

Erin Marie grew into a corkscrew-haired child so clever that she really did know how to spell "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" aloud in second grade; and so striking that Eunice Shriver once stopped dead in her tracks on the streets of Washington to stare at her. 

Over the years, Erin danced ballet and competed at gymnastics, horse shows - and academics. The only member of the immediate family who truly has the math gene, she was a champion competitive "mathlete."

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Have I Got a Story For You!

Seriously. I am days away from publishing a kickass combat story. I can't wait to show it off!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mocking Veteran Suicide: A VA Social Worker Crosses the Line; Keeps Job

Suicide is never funny. It is particularly not funny when a mental health professional, who works with veterans, tries to joke about it. The Indianapolis Star has this shocking story:

A manager at the Roudebush Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis appears to mock the mental health problems of returning combat veterans in an email to her employees.

The email obtained by The Indianapolis Star contains photographs of a toy Christmas elf posing as a patient in what appears to be the hospital’s transitional clinic for returning veterans. In one photograph, the elf pleads for Xanax. In another, he hangs himself with an electrical cord.

It appears that the manager, Robin Paul, has not been fired. But she did receive a bonus last year, according to the Indy Star.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Friday, March 6, 2015

Remembering Lex, Three Years On: Where Did the Time Go?

Has it really been that long? We lost him three years ago today. It was a tough and painful realization. 

First the emails circulated among our crowd: 

"Lex isn't answering." 

"What's going on at Fallon? It doesn't sound good."

"Have you heard from Lex?" 

"Where the hell is he?"

"My God, I think his plane might have gone down..."

Until the confirmation came from somewhere that popular blogger and mil-pal Carroll "Lex" LeFon died in a plane crash while coming in for a landing at NAS Fallon. 

Old Air Force Sarge has posted a lovely tribute to the much missed Neptunus Lex. So has the Xbradtc. Other stories, written at the time, are circulating.

As we all did last year and the year before, from coast to coast, our extended clan will raise a glass tonight at 2000 Eastern. Voices shall speak in unison: "To Lex." May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

.50-Calibre Bullets Atop Water: The Rainbow Effect, Off the USS Carl Vinson

That would be the famous Rainbow Effect of .50-cal bullets skipping the waves at sea. No such thing as the Rainbow Effect? Okay, let's just call it a pretty picture. But those really are bullets, from an M2HB machine gun, hopping the water's surface. This took place during a qualification shoot from the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Fenarol.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fighting to Stay Positive: Airmen Step Up When USAF Staff Sgt. Diagnosed With Cancer

Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James M. Hodgman 
Here's a story based out of my old stomping grounds at Travis Air Force Base in California. Air Force Tech. the story is told beautifully by Tech. Sgt. James M. Hodgman of the 60th Air Mobility Wing. 

Caution: Tissue Alert. 

Take it away, Tech Sgt. Hodgman...

For many people, Independence Day is all about celebration, spending time with family and watching fireworks light up the night sky. But for Air Force Staff Sgt. Richard L. Johnson, July 4, 2014, was not a day for celebrating.

On that day, just two months after his daughter,
 Ayda, was born, the 660th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-10 crew chief learned he had cancer.

"I experienced pain that got progressively worse for about two months," Johnson said. "I just attributed it to being work-related or sleeping the wrong way. At the beginning of July, though, the pain got pretty bad. I knew something was wrong."
Doctors at David Grant USAF Medical Center discovered Johnson had a cancerous mass the size of a football in his abdomen. The cancer quickly spread and was pushing against several internal organs, as well as against Johnson's spine, causing extreme pain.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Saturday, February 28, 2015

How to Ignore a Heart Attack: My Five-Year Anniversary Tutorial

Today marks the five year anniversary of my very strange trip down the rabbit hole and into the Land of Mystery. Make that, the Land of Medical Mystery. 

Five years ago today, I found myself inside the cardiac Intensive Care Unit of my neighborhood hospital here in my beloved adopted homeland of Virginia. 

No, I was not pulling duty as a Candystriper. I was the patient. A heart attack patient. Who had good cholesterol, low BMI, does not smoke, does not use illicit drugs, has mega-low blood pressure, does not routinely remove my heart and use it as a kickball, yadda yadda. 

And yet. There I was. Wired for tracings. Clutching a shallow "you're going to need this" bucket. Jacked full of nitroglycerin, morphine, anti-clotting meds, prophylactic calcium channel blockers, and more i.v. saline than you can shake a bedpan at.

Nor was I the only one in my crowd to endure such delights.

As you may recall, my BFF Concrete Bob also had heart issues five+ years ago. Bob tried to make his chest pain go away by icing his heart on the bathroom floor overnight before being forced to lie still for a quintuple bypass surgery. Another of my pals, "an old percolator, still blowing steam," known as Coffeypot, also endured an MI - and lived to tell the tale. 

Obviously, so did I. And here is my story - in negative tutorial form.

How to Ignore a Heart Attack

1. Wake up in the middle of the night with killer chest pain.

2. Realize to your surprise that your chest now takes up your entire body. Even your belly, back, arms, and legs are consumed with killer chest pain.

3. Decide to roll over to see if the pain goes away.

5. Wait one hour. Use the time to contemplate the fact that the pain is getting worse.

Sailors at Sea at Sunset: A Feast For the Eyes

An SA-330J Puma helicopter, from the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Charles Drew, flies supplies to the guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher as the USS Milius follows to receive a vertical replenishment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony R. Martinez

Friday, February 27, 2015

Obama: "We've Expanded My Authorities..."

Dear fellow citizens: Scared much? 

Here's what your leader has to say for himself and his Executive Actions:

“What we’ve done is we’ve expanded my authorities under executive action and prosecutorial discretion as far as we can legally under the existing statute, the existing law. And so now the question is, how can we get a law passed.”

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going to help myself to a nice tall mug of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

72-Year Old Man Arrested in NJ for Carrying an Unloaded Flintlock Pistol: An Update

New Jersey prosecutors have dropped charges against the 72 year old man recently arrested for carrying an antique flintlock pistol in his vehicle. According to my vigilant informant Grumpy, the Cumberland County law cited “Prosecutorial Discretion” as the reason to drop this case. H/T Grumpy for keeping us informed. I'm still going to drive around Jersey on my travels.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Old Mossback Sends Another Reality Check on Working an Overseas Contract

Speaking of Hollywood... the Old Mossback writes in with another reality check on the world of contracting: Hollywood v. Reality. Take it away, Mossy...

Whenever I am asked what overseas security contractors are looking for, I always have to deal with the Hollywood factor. In the world of Hollywood, all the candidates for a contract are buffed and in top shape. In the real world, on contract in Bumduck, once or twice a month I would have to make a run to the local drug store to pick up high blood pressure medication, Depends, and Viagra. 

This picture I sent to SKK shows two of my senior team members.

[SKK here: Point taken, Mossy].

That leads to one other point I would like to make about recruiting people for contracts. The female applicants often inquire as to salary, perks, promotions, vacation time, etc. In other words, the women - who for the most part are retired senior NCO's - want to see the entire big picture before they sign on the dotted line. 

The men have only one thing to say: "I sure would like a job where I get to wear a Panama Hat."


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On a More Serious Note: A Solemn Report From The Pup Tent

Handkerchief alert: A beloved and ailing police K-9 gets a remarkable sendoff from two-legged officers in Maine. A toss of the stick to Minicapt for bringing this to my attention.

Michael Moore's Top Secret Ideas Notebook: Sniper Movies Coming to a Screen Near You!

I've been wondering how Hollywood will rectify its snub of American Sniper in light of the movie's grassroots runaway success. My guess is, someone will try to create a hybrid flick that will tap into moviegoers' tastes while simultaneously appeasing politicized Hollywood. Who better for the task than Michael Moore? In fact, I think he's working it now. How do I know this? I think I found his Top Secret Ideas notebook. Here's what we may be looking at soon on the big screen!

Christine – Kyle is a woman. In this tense personal drama, Christine overcomes the male bullies who conspire to prevent her from reaching her true potential. In a pivotal confrontation, Christine shoots a fly off the nose of a SEAL commander after he asks her to make him a sammich. The commander relents, and agrees to take on Christine as a sniper; but, in order to protect fragile male egos, she must disguise herself as a man. At deployment's end, Christine regrets agreeing to this, and gets a tattoo for each of her kills. She begins hanging out at SEAL bars just so she can get drunk and show off her tattoos. All the SEALs make fun of her and accuse her of stolen valor, and make her sit at a table by herself. When rowdy Delta operatives invade the bar and threaten to consume the entire supply of Cuervo Gold, Christine drives them off shooting backwards, aiming through her cosmetics mirror and using a pink handgun. Finally, she is allowed to drink shots with the SEALs at the bar. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hollywood Snubs the American Moviegoer: American Sniper and Oscar

American Sniper did not fall short at the Oscars. Hollywood fell short of the American moviegoer, who picked their own clear winner. The American people don't need the Academy to tell them what their Best Picture is.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Back on Assignment...

It's been a busy Winter in the MSM...back soon! In the meantime, stay dangerous, everyone!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Did ISIS Place Children Inside Cage and Burn Them Alive?

The people inside this cage look very small to me. The people in back of them are much taller. In addition, the prisoners' faces look quite young. This image truly begs the question: Did ISIS place children inside a cage and burn them alive?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Miss Ronald Reagan: "We Must Fight!" Now, There's a President

My dream: There we are, at our compound, gathered around the fire in preparation for the night's encampment. A hooded horseman rides into our midst. We spring to our feet, our guns and swords already drawn. The horseman pauses. He pulls back his hood... and... it's REAGAN! He did not die, after all -  he merely has been in exile. And now he is back. The compound echoes with our rejoicing!

"Life is not so sweet that it is worth purchasing at the price of chains and slavery. You can have peace in one second. All you have to do is surrender..." H/T once again to Little Squid, who first called this to my attention.