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.

-OMB

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thursday, October 16, 2014

From the Pup Tent: Minicapt's Favorite Horse-Mounties!

Not to be over-pupulated in the Pup Tent, we now carve space for horsies. A whack of the sword (wait - that doesn't sound right) - tip of the saber to Minicapt for sending this pic of his favorite Lord Strathcona's Horse from points North.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

In Which Alaska Pops on My Radar

Speaking of Alaska... Okay, so I haven't talked about it at all. But I will now. Some of the longtime readers will remember my pal Little Squid, who has contributed here from time to time. La Squidlet now has left the Navy, and is headed for Alaska (with me along for part of the journey - more on that later). This jaunt reminds me that Alaska may be beautiful, but it's not always safe. Why, just look what happened when our loyal commenter Quartermaster went to Alaska. There he was, innocently drying off from a dip in a mountain waterfall (or was it a hotel shower?) when suddenly ---- well, read the rest over here, at Bring the Heat, etc... After which you might rethink Alaska as your safe and cozy go-to spot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Have Royals Profited from Secret Deals Surrounding Contracts at Dubai International Airport?

This just in regarding the situation with contractors at Dubai International Airport.

Certain members of the royal family may have profited from secret deals with main contractors in charge of major projects at the showpiece Terminal 3, a source tells me. The source, who is well connected in Dubai, says that the secret arrangement makes things difficult for outsiders such as Maryland-based ARINC to be paid.

Here in the States, the massive debt owed to ARINC is outrageous. In Dubai, says another inside source, Western standards don't apply. Contractors such and ARINC and others continue to await payment for millions of dollars worth of work already completed.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, O Watery Ones: A Star Chart to Mark the Navy's Birthday

Remember the cool Summer Solstice astrology chart my friend Johnnie TwoBrows did for the Army? He's at it again, this time with a reading on the Navy. 

Our waterborne service, it turns out, is a Libra.

But John turned his astrological sextant on more than just the Navy's sun sign.

Writes John: The 6th house is the one that represents armed forces in general. With the Moon and Jupiter sitting in the 6th in Gemini, we see an organization that can be very good at avoiding emotions and focusing on the job at hand (Moon), while traveling to many different faraway destinations for a higher purpose (Jupiter). 

Elsewhere, John makes an observation that made me smile, in light of some of the more colorful discussions in the comments section of this blog. The Navy has to realize that its reputation is going to be one of extremes: People will generally love them or hate them...

John is a big supporter of our armed services and its members. Read the rest of his Navy chart over at his place - and be sure to check out the rest of his blog, too! 

The Spanish-American War, for Guard's GX Magazine: We Come From Tough Stock

The Spanish-American War is a pivotal yet lesser known part of world history. I recently delved into the topic for the National Guard's GX Magazine, highlighting the Guard's important role in the war. 

I came away with a sense of awe, and with deep respect for the Soldiers. I have been to Cuba, and remember the intense heat and sun. The tops of my feet got burned in less than an hour, because I forgot to use sunscreen around my flip-flops. I can only imagine what it was like to fight - and prevail - under such conditions, while carrying weapons, wearing heavy uniforms, hacking up hill through the underbrush, and with disease rampant. 

My last two war stories for the Guard have brought home this lesson: We come from tough stock, Dear Ones. Very tough stock, indeed.

You can read about the war, the battles, and weapons here, at GX Online. Tell them SKK sent you!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

From the Pup Tent: Canine Companions for Independence Visit the Tank Farm

Look who dropped into the Pup Tent! Actually, it was the Wartime Museum open house. Two four-footed visitors joined us at the Tank Farm this past weekend, and explained their excellent program, Canine Companions for Independence. While on break, these doggies took a liking to a Jeep, and hopped in hoping to take a spin. They are Service Dog Dutton and Pup in Program Addie. They were quite a hit with the crowds. Clearly, Dutton and Addie also have great taste in vehicles. Maybe they'll join me in the Jeepstakes!



Saturday, October 11, 2014

Decoding Eric Frein: Search & Rescue Expert / Combat Tracker "Navig8r" Weighs In

The shadows surrounding Eric
Frein continue to expand

By Navig8r

For the august readers of this blog, here is an update on my evolving estimate of a (sorta) simple* reasonable explanation of the evidence presented.  This doesn’t necessarily mean it is correct, and that more complicated theories won’t turn out to be true.  

My evolving estimate of a simple reasonable explanation for a baseline is as follows.

Frein picked his intended victims for a specific reason.  Maybe one or both of them are general dirtbags as alleged.  Maybe it was personal with at least one of them.  Maybe it was randomly selected victims as revenge for a specific personal injustice at the hands of someone else.  If my pshrinkological analysis is correct, he had one, but the exact reason for why these two at exactly that time, while not trivial, is not quite the lynchpin in the case that it might otherwise be.

Partly because of how he wants his legacy portrayed (see speculative pshrinkological analysis below), and because he doesn’t have anyone else specific on his grudge list, he has chosen to not shoot at anyone else, at least for the time being.

Frein probably has multiple stockpiles of supplies stashed around the area.  In his planning, he probably viewed the discovery and loss of one or more of them as inevitable, and has enough redundancy to keep going for quite a while longer without that becoming a limiting factor.  

It is not without precedent. Google “Scott Curley manhunt” for a bunch of articles about a somewhat similar case in 2010 that occurred on the Arizona-Utah border.  In this case, the fugitive had multiple stashes.  Because the country was more open, he had them spread out further, with as much as 20 miles from one edge of his range to another.  With the greater distances, he left more tracks moving from one stash to another. This, coupled with the more open terrain, led to his earlier capture than what we are seeing with Frein.  

I am not suggesting the two cases are linked. Just that sometimes more than one perp has the same idea, and sometimes there are useful lessons to be learned.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Back From Assignment: What Happened to Hannah Graham? The Story in People Magazine

The weekend of September 13, I happened to be in Charlottesville, Virginia. While there, I encountered local police, who acted unusually focused, intense, and alert. And with good reason.

Little did I know, police already were looking for the latest young woman to disappear in the Rt. 29 area.  

The missing woman is University of Virginia undergraduate Hannah Graham, who vanished that weekend. A Charlottesville man, Jesse Matthew, now is in custody, charged with "abduction with intent to defile" Hannah. Evidence points to his involvement in her disappearance; but so far, he has not acknowledged that nor told police where she is. 

For the past week-plus, my People magazine colleague K.C. Baker and I have investigated this story and others that may (or may not) be connected. Our final product now is on newsstands, in the current issue, with Taylor Swift on the cover.

Please join me in praying that Hannah is found soon, that the other missing persons cases be resolved, and the perpetrator/s brought to justice. The heartbroken families deserve nothing less.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Wartime Museum Open House: More Photos and Things That Go Boom

Herewith more pics from the annual open house at the Tank Farm! There was so much to see and do, I we all bounced from site to site, according to our fave displays. Naturally, I lingered for a bit at the helicopter.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Wartime Museum Open House: An AAR in Photos

Our little gang of mil-fans still is recuperating from our weekend at the Wartime Museum open house. We saw so much, it will take a couple days to post the pics. 

We convened early as per usual at the Tank Farm, and met at the flagpole. We synchronized our watches so as to hit the chow line before it got too long; and then we fanned out to see our fave events and exhibits. 

Fishmugger and Andy were drawn to the Jeep, for some reason. Chadwick, Kyle, and company gravitated toward the tanks. Big D lit up when he saw fire. Myself, I enjoyed all the great company, cool vehicles, re-enactments, flamethrowing, and awesome displays. Actually, we all did. By day's end we were happily tired and plotting next year's adventure.

Herewith the second batch of pics (after yesterday's Soviet campsite).

Monday, October 6, 2014

Not Uncovering Eric Frein's Campsite: A Samovar Amid the Woods

Did Chadwick and I uncover Eric Frein's latest campsite? Nyet, dahlinks. This is the field HQ for the Soviet Army - re-enactor version. We saw it this past weekend at the Wartime Museum annual open house. More pics and AAR to come...



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Busy Times at The Compound...

It's been a busy couple days, what with being on assignment and attending the annual open house at the Wartime Museum, where I am a trustee. I'll have more on both in posts to come. Meanwhile, here is my colleague K.C. Baker's story for People.com, on every parent's worst nightmare.

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...