Monday, July 6, 2015

Milspotters' Challenge: Ignore Helicopter, Solve for Items in Corner

The objects of the puzzle: The two longish narrow upright objects in the corner of my living room. Ignore the RC helicopter. And yes, I know that Old Glory is stars-right. It's a forward deployed flag. Now: Solve.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

May God Bless the Continental Army

"The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States." Our founding fathers were faced with a choice: endure the tyranny, or forge independence. They made the right choice. They are my heroes and my role models. A toast to them and their ideals. And may God bless the Continental Army.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Letter From Afghanistan on Independence Day: "This is What Motivates Me"

One year ago today, my Cooking With the Troops partner and great friend Chad sent a letter from Afghanistan, wishing us all a happy July 4. Chad now is safely returned from deployment, and will celebrate Independence Day at home. His letter continues to resonate, and is well worth a second look. Read it with pride. These are the words of an American soldier. Take it away, Chad...

My dear friends and family,

I want to wish you all a Happy 4th of July! It is a beautiful and very windy day here in Afghanistan where the chow hall is decorated from top to bottom in patriotic gear and the movie "Independence Day" playing in the background. Fortunately I have been blessed with a low key day to stay on base which has allowed me to finally catch up on some much needed sleep.  

Being deployed on the 4th always is a bit surreal. For the most part it is like any other day, only with slightly better food haha.  But regardless, it always carries a special meaning. With all that is going on in the world in armed conflict, Ukraine, China, Russia, the Middle East, Iraq, etc., many have asked me whether it is worth fighting for anymore.  

I often fight to urge to react in the manner my emotions would like to, but I simply invite them to sit down in a quiet place and read the Declaration of Independence word to word and then come back to me with their own answer.  

Friday, July 3, 2015

Soldier Arrested in Mall in Fayetteville: A Threat to His Own Fitness Report

A soldier went to the mall in North Carolina - armed, and in combat gear. He said he wanted to pose for pics of himself with rifle and ammo. He should have known better than to wander into a civilian mall and scare everyone. On the other hand, I wonder if media reports have fanned more flame than applies. One news outlet ran the headline, "Man arrested in Fayetteville, North Carolina mall with rifle, ammunition." I'd expect that headline in connection with a threat situation. From the looks of things, the soldier in question presented a threat only to his next FitRep. I believe there is a box for "Acts Without Thinking." If so, his box surely now is checked.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Song From Madison Rising: A Gorgeous Rendition of God Bless America

I recently spent some time on tour with Madison Rising, and had the opportunity to hear their new songs live. All I can say is, wow. This rendition of God Bless America will make your heart swell with pride. It's gorgeous.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Army Posts Named for Confederate Generals Retain Titles; Navy Ship-Naming Needs Work

I am pleased to report that the Army will not change the titles of installations named after Confederate generals. Now if only the Navy would do something about its recent spate of ship-naming, which has broken tradition to such a degree that I wonder if someone has been drinking bad sea water.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All This for a Flag, V.2

A brawl broke out in front of the South Carolina statehouse, over the so-called Confederate flag. I cannot help but recall the brouhaha surrounding words attributed to Michelle Obama, regarding her alleged disdain for the respect being shown the American flag. The current controversy reminds us that yes, flags matter. They are symbols of deeply held identities and beliefs. And yes: all this for a flag. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Milspotters' Challenge: A Submission Via Navig8r

Our trusty Navig8r sends in a Milspotters' Challenge, to test your mettle. You all know the drill. This is a tough one. Any guesses?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Women in Combat in Vietnam: Farewell to Tiger Lady; A Romance Gone Wrong

A sad ending to H. Cubed's tale of his romance with Tiger Lady... 

I was leaving a hotel through the bar area to get outside. I am not a drinker nor carouser so I was not paying any attention. It was about noon. As I walked past the bar, suddenly my path was blocked by a beautiful leg extended out directly across my path. She sat there and did that with a big smile, and that was how we met. It was like something out of a movie script.

I knew right away this was a special lady, and she never stopped being good with me. She was loyal and truthful, not shifty and sneaky, and that is why we got along so well for about eight months before another woman pulled a stunt to fool her about me.

I was away at the time, and that other woman lied about me to her. I came back from an operation, and Tiger Lady was not around. so that woman could made up a lie to tell Tiger Lady out of jealousy. She didn't know it was a lie until I got a chance to see her and clear it up. Then we were back together, but it was too late for her to go with me.

SKK here: That is one very sad story, H. Cubed. She sounds like a pistol!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Women in Combat in Vietnam: Tiger Lady Was the Real Thing

My correspondent "H Cubed," Special Forces in Vietnam, offers more on the Tiger Lady...

Now remember, this is a combat zone everywhere. One day she was riding in a jeep with a South Vietnamese policeman. She saw a VC who had come to her village a few days before and stolen everything and treated everyone most cruelly. She pulled the policeman's pistol out and shot that VC right on the street.

She was put in prison for a very short time before the president of Vietnam sent a chopper to get her out. She was free from then on.

The name Tiger Lady came from an old movie I saw, but she was the real thing. She moved in with me in my quarters at the SF camp. She was the only woman living with one of us in all of Vietnam. This made me famous, but that is not why we did it.

One day, I came back from getting food or something, and I noticed my M16 in the corner had its safety off and a magazine inserted. I never left it that way, so I went over and put the safety on and took the magazine and the round that was chambered out of it. She had done it. I did not need to say anything about it as she got the message watching me do it.

Dangerous, indeed, but lot's of fun.

SKK here: The Jeep seals it. She was the real deal.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Women Saw Combat in Vietnam: "Not a Regularly Scheduled Event"

Further to yesterday's mention of women in Vietnam, "H. Cubed" tells me some women actually were in combat - but not how you would expect. And yes, this is a NSTIW* story as well as a bit of grassroots history. Writes my correspondent:

I had a girlfriend in Nam, really two but the other one was very different, and this one I called "Tiger Lady." She was fearless and completely out of control by anyone except herself. She was a great lover, and she was beautiful on top of it all.

One time she decided she wanted to go on a special operation with the Cambodians and the US SF commanders, so, of course, as beautiful and charming and fearless as she was, they let her. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Military's "Man Problem:" Not All Contributions to Discussion Carry Equal Weight

An author at Politico weighs in on the discussion about women in combat.  In addition to illustrating her story with an image of a female soldier with her rifle barrel in the dirt, the author writes: "During the Vietnam War, female soldiers were not even allowed to carry guns." The author neglects to write that during the Vietnam War, female soldiers did not serve in proximity to combat. They deployed mostly as nurses, and they did not fight. The photo and the comment remind us that not all contributions to this discussion can be taken seriously.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Reporting From Charleston, for People Magazine

This was a difficult story to report. My crime team colleagues at People, as always, proceeded with the greatest integrity. I am honored to have been part of the effort to tell this horrific story.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pressing On, With the People Crime Team

The convicted murderers who escaped prison in New York are still on the lam, but I'm guessing not for long. I've been working with the People crime team to report the latest, now live on the Dot.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Visit Outside Camp Lejeune: Even General Cooper Does Business With Saigon Sam

My travels recently landed me in the town quaintly known as Jacksonhell, North Carolina. The town also is called Land of the Oorahs (for us Army types), or sacred ground to Devil Dogs. The town is home to the Marine Corps' Camp Lejeune. One of my cohorts sends the following Devil Dog tale.

Time for the obligatory visit to Saigon Sam's. When Charlie Cooper was commanding general at Lejeune he absolutely hated Saigon Sam’s. He carried on a major vendetta against the store with investigations from NCIS and even the FBI (if memory serves).

When Cooper got orders to a new duty station he apparently culled some uniform shirts and threw out the unserviceable ones. They were found in the trash, with “C. G. Cooper” stamped per uniform regulations in the neck band. The next thing you knew they appeared in the window at Saigon Sam’s with a sign that said EVEN GENERAL COOPER DOES BUSINESS WITH SAIGON SAM’S.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Tragedy in Charleston: Talking to First Responders, for People Magazine

The People crime team has been on scene and behind the scenes in Charleston. This horrific tragedy has been incredibly hard for everyone involved, including the first responders. I spoke to some while working on this very difficult story.  Here's a look at what they told me.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Seduced by Killers: In People Magazine, on Newsstands This Week

My People magazine colleagues, as always, were phenomenal at getting this story. I am proud to have been part of the team unearthing the story of the prison break that has stunned the nation. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

On the PEOPLE Crime Beat, Investigating a Prison Break

The People crime team hit the ground running on the prison break story. As always, my colleagues have been phenomenal. For my part, I talked to the district attorney who is prosecuting the woman accused of helping two inmates escape. The results of that convo are up now, on the Dot.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Army is a Gemini! A Solar Chart to Celebrate 240 Years of Hooah!

Now for a bit of fun, to celebrate the Army's 240th birthday!

A couple years ago, it dawned on me that if the Army were a person, it would be a Gemini.
 I checked in with our official blog-strologer, Johnnie Two Brows, to see if it were possible to do an astrological chart on the Army.

Rather than laugh me out of his inbox, Johnnie offered to compile the Army's chart in honor of all those who serve.

Johnny came back with some astrological observations that caught my eye.

On the Army's Moon being in Capricorn: For mission completion without letting emotions get in the way, Capricorn Moon is your best friend.

On the Army's Mars being in Virgo: Mars is the planet of war and conflict, and in this case it’s very appropriately in Virgo. So that means discriminating, carefully thought-out and well-planned conflicts; in other words, being very careful to destroy your enemy and not everyone who happens to be around.

On the Army's many planets being in Gemini and Virgo: The Army’s flexibility is highlighted here. That’s great when things change on the fly, and the Army can take on many different missions well.

Read the rest - to include insight on why the Army has the tanks - over at Johnnie's place.

Oh, and... Happy Birthday, Army! Sending big hugs and plenty of hooahs your way!

Visiting the USS Harry S Truman at Sea: First We Landed Atop the Flight Deck

Landing aboard the USS Harry S Truman: This is my actual plane. I'll post the report shortly; but first, I'm off to celebrate the Army's birthday! It's good to be back on my natural footing: Earth.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Monday, June 8, 2015

I'm Joining the Navy! On Board Ship, That Is: Embarking Aboard the USS Harry Truman at Sea

I'm joining the Navy.

Yes, me. The one who wears black and gold every December in hopes of riding a mule to victory in Philadelphia. I'm joining the Navy, and I couldn't be more thrilled. 

Commencing shortly, I will meander southward to Norfolk, Virginia, to join a host of hard working sailors aboard the USS Harry S. Truman at sea. I'll spend two days and one night aboard ship, along with a few companions who are just as delighted as I am to visit an actual aircraft carrier underway.

The morning of the embark, our merry band will gather shortly after sunrise in the Big Land of Open Carry, to climb inside our air taxi, a prop powered Grumman C-2 Greyhound.

I'm as excited about the Greyhound as I am about the carrier - partly because I have a thing for military aircraft, and partly from sentimental attachment. To me, the Greyhound looks like a sleek baby brother to the "Old Shaky" C-124 from my aircraft restoration days at Travis Air Force Base. 

Unlike USAF's Old Shaky, though, the Navy's Greyhound can land atop a ship at sea. And so it shall - with our group on board. The C-2 will ferry us to the Truman for a cable landing, and later will catapult us off deck for our flight back to Norfolk.

The adventure began more than a year ago, when fellow Californian Dennis Hall, who runs a lot of creative projects through his Avere Group, nominated me to join an embark aboard the USS Carl Vinson. The Naval Air Forces-Pacific very kindly approved. I got snowed in at the airport, though, and didn't make the trip. My would-be companions assigned me a nickname: Shadow.

Later this week, Shadow finally will come into the light. Dennis and the Navy asked me to come aboard the Atlantic fleet's Truman - and now I'm on the manifest, with not a snowflake in sight. Over the next couple days, I'll post more about the adventure. For now, I'm busy packing... and wondering if I should bring an Army sweatshirt. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The D-Day Landings at Normandy: Turning the Tide of History

The D-Day landings marked the largest amphibious assault in the history of warfare, and one of the most decisive military missions of modern times. The bloodiest landing site was Omaha Beach, where the 29th ID's 116th IR was on the first wave of assault. The men were Army National Guard. And they helped turn the tide of history. My story on their efforts is in GX magazine.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Remembering Beau Biden, in the Current Issue of People Magazine

Beau Biden touched many hearts, in military and civilian life. I feel honored to have worked with the team at PEOPLE to produce a tribute to him that left us in tears. On newsstands now.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Mad Dogs of OP Nevada: Appearing Now in Soldier of Fortune Magazine

John Melson's Mad Dog infantry platoon pulled off an amazing feat of combat in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. My story about a portion of their exploits is in the July issue of Soldier of Fortune. 

There's much more to this story than I had room for in a single magazine article, but this will give you a taste. Prepare to be blown away, and to feel a great sense of pride in our fighters.

If you're not a subscriber, you can get a copy at Barnes and Noble or other outlets. I suggest acting fast - some places already are sold out!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

Further to That Convoy: Soldiers Arrive in Virginia, Are Training to Purify Water

Soldiers from the non-Jade Helm convoy I mentioned the other day have arrived on station at Ft. AP Hill, Virginia. The soldiers are there for annual training on matters aquatic, including how to purify and use local water supplies.

The Army tells me the AP Hill mission is part of a larger Quartermaster Liquid Logistics Exercise, "a world-class sustainment exercise which provides, ready liquid logistic units, Soldiers and equipment the ability to conduct their wartime mission in a full spectrum environment."

It sounds as if they are working in a fluid environment (sorry... I couldn't resist...)

Here's a pic from last year, featuring Sgt. Roy Cate of Elkins, W.V., a water purification specialist with 326th Quartermaster Company. Among other things, Elkins' unit provided potable water for Soldiers, as well as for shower and laundry services. Army photo by Sgt. David Turner, 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Writing About a Tragic Set of Murders in D.C., for People Magazine

The PEOPLE crime team, as always, did an amazing job reporting a difficult story on a short deadline. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to tell the horrifying story of the D.C. Mansion Murders. The magazine is available on newsstands now.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Jade Helm Paranoia Alert: Military Convoy Into Virginia

Jade Helm conspiracy theories undoubtedly will get a boost in the next couple days when a military convoy travels from Ohio into Virginia. The unit is headed for a training site just south of Fredericksburg, and yes; it really is on a training exercise. This is nothing new. Military convoys have used civilian roads for years in order to get from one site to another. If you happen to see them heading south in their Humvees, give a wave; the vehicles have no air conditioning, and the soldiers likely could use a little cheer on a hot summer day.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Further to Spetsnaz in Ukraine: Intriguing Comments From Captured Russian Soldier

I normally don't place too much stock in revelations made by soldiers in captivity. I am particularly skeptical of revelations made while in medical care. This report about comments from a captured Spetsnaz sergeant, however, is worth attention, if only to add to the general mix of information coming out of Ukraine. Sift accordingly.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Russian Spetsnaz in Ukraine? Russian Investigators Say, Da; Russian Federation Says, Nyet

A Russian independent investigative team believes it has found evidence that Spetsnaz currently is active in Ukraine, in violation of the Minsk Protocol. Before arriving at this conclusion, the team of journalist/bloggers conducted an extensive inquiry, using a combination of old school gumshoe methods and newfangled online stalking.

The team's investigation centers on three young soldiers, one of whom is pictured at left. The soldiers appear to have been killed in the same action. Their deaths sparked social media comments such as the following:

May you always be remembered, brother!!! You were a great friend and comrade in arms!!! May you rest in peace Mamai!!! We remember you, we love you, we grieve for you!!! It’s all that damned, fucked-up war!!!

In their effort to document the presence of Spetsnaz in the region, the investigators followed the trail, knocked on doors, and even visited a Spetsnaz base. They did not remain long at the base, reporting this encounter:

...a Spetsnaz first lieutenant got out of car nearby and started approaching us with quite a disapproving look. We got in the car and left so that we wouldn’t get into trouble.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Further to Soldier of Fortune: On Newsstands Soon

The July issue of Soldier of Fortune, with my story on the cover, has hit the presses! The magazine has been shipped to subscribers, and soon will be available on the newsstands. I thoroughly enjoyed reporting and writing this story, and can't wait to share it! Stay tuned for details.