Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Open House at the Tank Farm: Heavy Metal in Action, and Much More!

The annual Americans in Wartime Museum open house is fast approaching. This two-day event, on Oct. 4 and 5,  is well worth a drive to the northern environs of the Big Land of Open Carry: Nokesville,Virginia, to be exact. Drop on by, and prepare to be wowed! Our schedule, which includes a flamethrower demonstration, P-51 flyover, and much much more, is here. I heard a rumour that Fishmugger, the Baroness, and others from The Compound will be among those on hand...

Monday, September 29, 2014

Old Mossback and the Hot Tub: Lessons Learned From Retirement

Old Mossback has sent a dispatch from retirement. Take it away, Mossy...

To the readers of the SKK blogs:

I can say now that SKK and I have had some interesting chats, and lately they have been on a single subject. Here is a small sample.

SKK: To be a writer you must WRITE. Stick to what the fans of this website want. They wanted the adventures of Captain Polly Grief USA (retired); the D-Team; yarns about the life of an overseas security contractor. They didn't want stories about some old guy rowing down the Florida swamp fighting zombies. What was that all about? 

OMB: I was just expanding my horizons. 

SKK: That does not pay the rent. 

OMB: Please let me have one more shot? 

SKK: OK, but this will cost you a new D-Team story even if I do not post whatever you have in mind at this time. 

OMB: You have a deal. Here goes.

From way back in 1995, when I was between contracts and sites, I stayed in extended-stay hotels, motels, and was even a caretaker once. For decades the roof over my head was not mine. Last summer I wanted and needed a change. 

When looking for a retirement home of course location is important, but the priorities from younger days have changed. There is no need to look at the local schools or things such as that. I was looking for a place, and I had a few ideas as to what I wanted. I needed the following:

1) Within walking distance of a Tiki bar and package store. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Was Pedophile Jerry Sandusky the Tip of the Iceberg in Pennsylvania?

One of my readers on the Eric Frein threads recently asked, "What's going on the Poconos?" Good question. Here's another: what's going on within the Pennsylvania state power structure at large? It doesn't look good when public officials - including the current commissioner of the State Police - are found to have exchanged sexually explicit and pornographic emails on the state computer system.

Was convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky the tip of the iceberg?

Questions ripple out from there.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Alternate Suggestion for Halloween Costumery: Meowza!

This is a much more suitable costume than an accused killer outfit, methinks. Besides, it gives me the opportunity to repost one of my favorite pics, filled with shock and awwwww. Herewith my favorite little cat soldier. Meowza!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Eric Frein for Halloween: A Top 10 Bad Idea

Eric Frein costumes for Halloween are high on the request list at my local party/holiday shop, a clerk tells me. People have been asking for Eric Frein masks and eastern European army uniforms, says the clerk. Even here in the Big Land of Open Carry, which is well outside the search zone for fugitive Frein, this rates high on the Bad Idea scale. So of course, it is irresistibly attractive. I hope the revelers are buying Kevlar body armor and helmets to wear beneath those costumes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Eric Frein Continues to Elude Police, Captivate Public

America's most hunted fugitive continues to evade capture after some nine days on the lam. He is not far, though, from the minds of Americans who want to know what this horrific situation is all about. I'm still doing my journalist-thing, asking questions, poking the bushes, and looking under rocks. Meanwhile, for a glimpse at various theories and opinions about the Frein Incident, be sure to check out the comments threads on the posts from Friday and Saturday. The two posts now have topped the Holly Graf series in terms of page views here at The Compound. There also is a lively discussion on the merits v. foibles of anonymous commenting. Stay safe, everyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Eric Frein: Why Would the Most Hunted Fugitive in America Return to Certain Capture?

The hunt for suspected cop-killer Eric Frein has taken on increasingly surreal qualities. Yesterday I noted a number of red flags surrounding the case. Today the flags wave bigger and brighter. Here's what else I've noticed.

Frein has been missing for more than a week. By now a woods-dwelling fugitive would be physically exhausted, sleep-deprived, filthy, hungry, and thirsty. If Frein is alive, how has he sustained himself? Does he have a hidden stash of food? Has he been eating nuts and berries, and drinking captured dew? Is he alone, or does he have help? Has someone been feeding him? Or has he left the area entirely? 

Frein reportedly was on the verge of being caught Friday night. Why wasn't he? According to police and news reports, Frein was trapped last night inside a relatively small area in Canadensis, PA., near the house where he lived with his parents. This makes no sense to me. Why would the most hunted fugitive in America return to the one place where he could expect to be surrounded and captured? As it turns out, he wasn't captured. Why not? Perhaps he wasn't there.

Has Frein been set up? Again: the case against him is circumstantial. He might in fact be the perpetrator. Or he might have been set up to take a fall. If so, he may be incapacitated or dead, and the true perps still on the loose.

Have police been set up? An invisible someone has lured large amounts of law enforcement into a particular area. Is this an ambush in waiting? Is it a diversionary tactic to allow a perp or perps safe passage elsewhere? The IRA used to do this in Northern Ireland, where they deliberately diverted police from crimes scenes or set them up for attack. This is a profoundly dangerous situation for law enforcement, and for the community.

Police reportedly exchanged gunshots last night with Frein. Or did they? Reports have varied. Did anyone actually see Frein fire a weapon? Has anyone found shell casings? If so, do they match the weapons Frein supposedly is carrying?

Frein reportedly talked about committing mass murder. When did he say this? To whom?

Frein reportedly has a vendetta against law enforcement. What is the evidence of this?

This is going somewhere. A man has been murdered. Another wounded. A community terrorized and on complete lockdown. A suspect has been named, based on circumstantial evidence that seems oddly obvious. The police have been lured into a small area where the fugitive is thought to be hiding. After a tense night in which the only thing acquired by police is fatigue, the tension has ratcheted up even higher than before. 

This is leading somewhere. But where? A clue to the direction, I think, might be found in the long-ago past. More on this later. For now: I hope this situation resolves quickly and peacefully. Stay safe, everyone.

Friday, September 19, 2014

More to the Story on Eric Frein? Red Flags Amid the Yellow Police Tape

Will alleged cop-killer Eric Frein be taken alive? I hope so. If he did in fact commit the acts he is accused of, he needs to be brought to justice. He also needs to be thoroughly debriefed. He has important information to give to police and society. He has - or perhaps, had - answers to crucial questions.

Among them: What triggered the seemingly inexplicable rampage wherein state troopers were ambushed, a good man died, and another seriously wounded? What else besides murder was this meant to accomplish? And, most pressing: is anyone else involved, and what happens next?

Over the years, I've reported on a large number of major crimes (and, in my cub reporter days, on basic police stories). I've decoded evidence, seen patterns, and explored the insides of killers' psyches. This experience gives me no answers on the Pennsylvania ambush nor on Frein. But it leads me to sense that this incident is not as straightforward as it might appear. 

I believe that Eric Frein is connected to the shootings in some way, and that he knows - or knew - much if not all of the story. Beyond that, though, I am more focused on the red flags than on the yellow police tape. Here's what I've noticed.

No one has come forward claiming to have seen Frein pull the trigger. Circumstantial evidence is strong that Frein is in fact the perp. But the evidence is circumstantial; and, again: no one saw him pull the trigger.

Frein left no manifesto. In "big message" crimes such as this appears to be, the perp often leaves a manifesto explaining how the killer justifies the crime. So far, no one claims to have received an explanatory message from Frein. Is a manifesto still in transit? Is it languishing within the slush pile of a neglected mail room? Is it on the writer's person? His computer? Or never composed? If not, how did the killer plan to explain himself to the world, now that he has our attention?

Something went wrong with the plan. Frein - if he is the perp - could have remained a mystery killer, sparking fear and havoc beyond the confines of where the attack occurred, and leaving him free to kill more people. But Frein apparently quickly lost both his wheels and the cover of anonymity.

More thoughts, and a recommendation, after the jump...

In Search of a Killer...

In Pennsylvania. AAR to follow...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

When Warrior Hikers Go on Parade: Their very Own Deuce-And-a-Half

I couldn't resist posting this pic of the Warrior Hike parade vehicle and all-purpose cargo truck. The hikers finally got off their feet this past weekend, and rode the 2 1/2- tonner in the Trail's End Festival parade in Millinocket, Maine. Now, there's a float to be proud of!

Monday, September 15, 2014

In Which Our Warrior Hikers Reach the End of the Appalachian Trail

They made it to Maine! Congratulations, Appalachian Trail Warrior Hikers of 2014! It was a long journey, and now you have reached the end of the trail. And it is only the beginning...

More pics, after the squiggles...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

On the 200th Anniversary of Our National Anthem: Madison Rising Rocks America

My great friends at Madison Rising tell me that 200 years ago today, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key watched the American flag rise over Ft. McHenry just outside of Baltimore after more than 24 hours of relentless bombardment by the British. What he did next would be celebrated by patriotic Americans for generations to come. He wrote our National Anthem.

What better way to feel the goosebumps than to listen to Madison Rising's gorgeous rendition of this magnificent song.

Hats off, please; hands over hearts; for the version from America.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It's Another Fall Saturday for Black Knights Football: Army v. Stanford

Let's reprise the win from last week's great season opener! Go, Black Knights! Kickoff is 1700, Big Land of Open carry time. That's 5 p.m. for you civvies....


A tip of the rotor blade to Boq for sending this along. Is that the cutest thing you've ever seen, or what?

Friday, September 12, 2014

In Which Navig8r Offers Exegesis on Explanation of Cartels' Rise to Power

Navig8r found an article on Mexican Drug Cartels: How It Got to This. He sends the link, plus his wrap-up and analysis. Take it away, Nav...

Sound bite version: the various cartels used to be more or less under one umbrella, but when the Mexican government (partly as a result of a change in administration) started closing in on the guy in charge of the umbrella organization, he divided up his empire. Also, the change of administration disrupted the hierarchy and flow in the bribery networks. Bribers could not be sure of whom to bribe, and how much protection they were getting for their money.

In this environment, the newly independent, smaller cartels got greedy, started fighting it out, and the violence went through the roof. Further, the US and Mexico strategy of going after the kingpins produced additional fragmentation and violence as new up-and-comers competed to fill the vacancies as the old leaders as they were taken down.

Overall, a pretty good article. See comments at the bottom of the article regarding some alleged errors in the details, and alternate sources on the same subject.

Check six, keep five, and keep your powder dry.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cooking With the Troops Heads to Ft. Belvoir, BBQ and Dessert at the Ready!

Cooking With the Troops is heading in... to Ft. Belvoir for our annual 9/11 cookout at the Soldiers and Families Assistance Center. We shall have excellent fare: Barbecue from Concrete Bob; coleslaw and potato salad from Pork Barrell BBQ; cupcakes from Confections; and amazingly delicious gourmet chocs from Canada, thanks to Minicapt. Away we go....!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Management Aboard USS Cowpens: The Non-Existent Curse of the Cow Set to be Broken!

The Mighty Moo soon shall be under new management. Best of luck to the USS Cowpens and her incoming skipper, Capt. Scott Sciretta, previously of the USS Jason Dunham. A tip of the yardarm to Michael for sounding the horn on this one. Here's hoping the non-existent Curse of the Cow finally is broken!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Full Moon Over The Compound

Ready; set; Ow-ooooo.....!

Talking to Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for GX Magazine

One of the best things about being a journalist is that I get to meet fascinating people. I recently sat down across cyberspace for a chat with former SecDef Leon Panetta, on behalf of the National Guard's GX Magazine. Secretary Panetta struck me as keenly intelligent and deeply caring of our military, our youth, and society. He was gracious and easy to talk to, and I'm delighted I had the opportunity to talk to him. You can read the interview in the latest print magazine, or here at GX online. Tell them SKK sent you!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

It's Always S'mores Season, Here at The Compound

Here at The Compound, we take our s'mores seriously. So, too, does the U.S. Forest Service. A tip of the roasting twig to Minicapt, who sends this important bulletin, blasphemies (fruit in place of marshmallow? I think not) and all.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When a Sniper Became a Mascot: "There I Was" in Vietnam

Speaking of LZ's... here's a revisit from reader Clint Wickett, with his NSTIW tale of being on  the receiving end of a sniper in Vietnam. Take it away, Clint...

I remember a sniper on a knoll just outside the wire at LZ Gator in Nam. Every day at 1600 hrs he would fire five rounds on semi and never hit anything. For weeks there were all kinds of sweeps, patrols, plans and plots, you name it! But no one ever saw a sign of him or her. Afterwards there were all kinds of stories created about that sniper and it sort of became a mascot. Every day around 1600 hrs activity would stop around that portion of the perimeter to wait for the five rounds so we knew that he was alright. Naturally, the joke was that if anything happened to him he might be replaced by someone who could hit something. 

Another part of the story was that because no brass was ever found was that the sniper had to pick it up and turn it in before they would pay him his daily piaster. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brown Water Randy and LZ Woodland: In the Early Days Post-Vietnam

The Locus of LZ Woodland
Continuing the story of Brown Water Randy...

As I wrote yesterday, Randy's vision was different from that of mainstream groups aiming to show that Vietnam vets were well adjusted. Randy wanted to help the vets who were not so well integrated. He wanted to raise awareness of PTSD. He also wanted to offer fellowship and support to others who struggled with trauma-induced problems.

So Randy pitched me to write a newspaper story. He told me about his group while we sat on camp stools behind his fish store, eating a magnificent concoction of abalone and other sea delicacies. 

My questions probably seemed designed to deflate. Did the group meet with a psychologist? No. Did they have a formal structure? No. Charter? Plan? Twelve-step program? No on all counts. But, Randy said, the group helped in one significant way: It allowed the men to talk openly and without shame.

“If nothing else,” he said, “it takes the pressure off.”

The members took solace from knowing they were not alone. They also learned from one another that they could expect certain ups and downs. Although we lived in Davis and Dixon, California, the group met in the nearby town of Woodland.

And so it was that I wound up not only writing about LZ Woodland, but also being a part of it. I had a good reason to go. My closeted veteran boyfriend, who never spoke about his service but who got awfully jumpy in war movies, reminded me in some ways of my dad. I brought him along to LZ Woodland.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Revisiting the Myth of the Whacked-Out Vietnam Veteran: My Old Friend, "Brown Water Randy"

Your typical Vietnam veteran?
In the 1980's, society thought so.
I've been going through my old paper files, and came across some materials from when I wrote about the  Vietnam Veterans Leadership Program  (VVLP) for VFW magazine. The VVLP was a great group.  In 1981, its members began working to counteract the myth of the whacked-out Vietnam vet. They operated at a grassroots level, under a national umbrella. 

But while this key organization reached out broadly to the public, others worked quietly in their own way. One of these "silent angels" was my old friend, "Brown Water Randy." 

I met Randy in the early 1980’s, shortly after PTSD was identified but before American society knew anything about the syndrome. This was in the days when a lot of men still hid their service medals under the bed, and didn’t talk about Vietnam for fear of being branded a “baby killer.”

In the public's eye, every Vietnam vet was Rambo, who had a certain coolness, but also was very deeply disturbed and just a tad bit ridiculous.

Randy owned a shop near my house. He caught and sold his own fish. He was a friendly-gruff, in-your-face Vietnam veteran. 

Unlike many other vets I encountered, Randy was proud of his military service. He displayed his flags and patches on the wall beside his cash register. He also suffered from PTSD, and he didn’t care who knew it. He laughed at the notion that he might  “go Rambo” at a moment’s notice, but he openly talked about personal problems stemming from post-traumatic stress. “It’s something I have,” he said. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

When I met Randy, I was editor of a small town weekly newspaper in Dixon, California. Randy knew I had served briefly in the Women’s Army Corps, and that my then-boyfriend was a closeted Vietnam vet. So Randy thought I might be interested in hearing – and writing – about his newly formed outreach group for vets with PTSD.

Randy wanted to help the vets who were not so well integrated. He wanted to raise awareness of PTSD. He also wanted to offer fellowship and support to others who struggled with trauma-induced problems.

Tomorrow: Brown Water Randy and LZ Woodland

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Of Terror & Infiltration: In Which Navig8r Observes the Bad, the Sorta Good, and the Whacked

Navig8r's genuine actual navig8ional gear
Our keenly observant Navig8r writes in with his commentary on current events, opining on the bad, the sorta good, and the crazy. Take it away, Nav...

The bad news

Comment: Seems a little odd that they would be planning an attack right on the border when they could access an even more target rich environment further inland with little extra trouble. Also, why would they want to draw extra attention to their logistics route?  It might be well to expand the watch area.  

Jay Leno’s crack from 15? 20? years ago that you can get anything you want into the US as long as it can be concealed in a bale of marijuana is just as true now as it was then.  

And more bad news

Comment: It was bound to happen sometime, and could happen again. Thank God no one was hurt. The real solution is that the gubmint should start enforcing the laws and securing the border so the militia types would go home. Meantime, it looks like at least some of the militia types need to re-think their concept of operations. 

The sorta good news  
Has 'La Bestia' been tamed? Mexican crackdown has significantly cut numbers of child migrants on notoriously dangerous train to the US.  “Omar Zamora, a Border Patrol spokesman in the Rio Grande Valley, where most of the unaccompanied children have entered the U.S., said Thursday that the agency was seeing about 30 to 40 of the children in custody each day in recent weeks. That is down from a peak when 300 or more were arrested in a day earlier this summer.”  

Friday, August 29, 2014

Contractors, Beware: United Arab Emirates Mistreats Foreign Workers

This in from Navig8r...Maryland's ARINC is not the only provider getting stiffed for work performed in the UAE. Check out this horror story about the dark side of high art, wherein the Slaves of Happiness Island suffer in order to bring Western culture to Abu Dhabi. Contractors, beware.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In Which More War Horses Appear From Points Afar

More hat tippery is in order to Minicapt, for sending along this pic, plus a link to info about Lord Strathcona's Horse regiment in Canada.. Hmmm... Minicapt has been awfully well behaved lately. I wonder what he's up to....


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Judge's Ruling on Toxic Exposure on Military Base: Of Interest to Ft. McClellan Vets

This is encouraging news for those of us who served at Ft. McClellan. It's not about us, but it applies in the sense that perhaps the tide is turning in regard to toxic exposure at military bases.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Further Reading on Mexico's Autodefensas Movement: Suggestions From Navig8r

As per yesterday's post, Navig8r has sent recommendation for further reading on Mexico's Autodefensas movement. Take it away, Navig8r...

Other resources that cover the issue are as follows.

Blog del Narco is a Spanish language page that collects contributions from a variety of sources. It is a window on events. It solicits contributions from anyone willing to contribute with the motto “Informa lo que se Oculta en México,” (literally “inform that which is hidden in Mexico”). Gory photos and videos included. If you need an English translation, the Google online translator will give you the gist of things. 

NarcoNoticias is another Spanish language page similar to Blog del Narco. Gory photos and videos included. It has a link to a machine translator that does a passable job of translating the page into English.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mexico's Citizen Militias Fight the Cartels: Navig8r Explains the Autodefensas Movement

Mexico’s Autodefensas Movement

By Navig8r

In the current environment of what seems to be one or more new outrages every day on border security and immigration, I am attempting to focus my commentary on aspects that are either under-reported or in some way represent some kind of sea change.

For the record, I can no longer claim front line status on border issues. I recently moved to Nebraska because the family needs me here. In my expatriate Arizonan status, I remain a highly interested student of border affairs.

Reader alert. Some of the links provided here go to sources that show the decapitated heads and other assorted gore.

One under-reported aspect of the border situation is the Autodefensas movement in Mexico. Literal translation is “Self defense.” These are grass roots groups that have sprung up relatively recently in response to the impotence of the Mexican Government against the cartels. These are various groups that operate essentially as militias, much to the consternation, sometimes with the grudging cooperation of the Mexican government.

One reason they are a very significant development is because legal firearms ownership in Mexico is difficult to accomplish, moreso if you want anything with military utility. Ergo, many members are desperate enough to get relief from the predations of the cartels that they are willing to take that step outside the law. This makes a good argument for our Second Amendment, which may be one of the reasons the US media is not covering the issue.