November 29, 2004

COLA

Imagine Cartman saying "sweet." That's what I said when I read about our new COLA increase! A 31% currency adjustment? My job only gave us 4%. Man, the Army takes care of us.

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November 24, 2004

WOW

Photos from Fallujah.

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November 23, 2004

2-2 INF

My neighbor sent me a gripping article about A-CO 2-2 INF, the company CPT Sims commanded in Fallujah. It features more from SSG Fitts and provides a harrowing picture -- and actual pictures -- from the missions.

Here's something funny though: "Of roughly 400 men and women from Task Force 2-2..." Are there any women in Fallujah? I know there aren't any in 2-2 INF, and I thought I understood that women couldn't even be attached to infantry battalions. Is this just p.c. talk, or are there really women involved?

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RED 6

Got an email from Red 6, the husband's best friend, today. He's back from Fallujah, safe and sound. He's also famous for a day.

MORE TO GROK:

And other Indians have noticed!

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YEAGER

A story from a Marine in Fallujah:

I will end with a couple of stories of individual heroism that you may not have heard yet. I was told about both of these incidents shortly after they occurred. No doubt some of the facts will change slightly but I am confident that the meat is correct.

The first is a Marine from 3/5. His name is Corporal Yeager (Chuck Yeager's grandson). As the Marines cleared and apartment building, they got to the top floor and the point man kicked in the door. As he did so, an enemy grenade and a burst of gunfire came out. The explosion and enemy fire took off the point man's leg. He was then immediately shot in the arm as he lay in the doorway. Corporal Yeager tossed a grenade in the room and ran into the doorway and into the enemy fire in order to pull his buddy back to cover. As he was dragging the wounded Marine to cover, his own grenade came back through the doorway. Without pausing, he reached down and threw the grenade back through the door while he heaved his buddy to safety. The grenade went off inside the room and Cpl Yeager threw another in. He immediately entered the room following the second explosion. He gunned down three enemy all within three feet of where he stood and then let fly a third grenade as he backed out of the room to complete the evacuation of the wounded Marine. You have to understand that a grenade goes off within 5 seconds of having the pin pulled. Marines usually let them "cook off" for a second or two before tossing them in. Therefore, this entire episode took place in less than 30 seconds.

My grandfather flew with Chuck Yeager during WWII, and they've kept in touch throughout all these years. It makes me smile to know that Yeager's grandson and my grandfather's grandson(in-law) are fighting in the same war today.

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November 20, 2004

TRAGEDY

This Slate article (via Hud) shows some good perspective on the Fallujah shooting, but the title irks me: What the Marine Did: The shooting of an unarmed Iraqi was a tragedy. But was it a war crime? Am I the only one who fails to see the "tragedy"? This is the enemy. The same group of people who have been collecting heads since May. The people who attack from mosques and use women and children as shields. Whether or not this man held a weapon in his hand at the moment the Marine killed him does not make the difference between a terrorist and a friendly neighborhood Iraqi. I firmly believe that, had he had a weapon, he would've tried to kill the Marine first. He was the enemy; I fail to see the tragedy of his death.

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November 18, 2004

RIGHT

Via LGF I found two posts written by Froggy Ruminations about the Marine who shot the insurgent. Like he says, I'm not a veteran. But I would want my husband to shoot the terrorist. The object of war is not to die for your country, as Patton said.

There's what's right and what's right, and never the twain shall meet.

When my husband was home, he saw that I had bought A Few Good Men, which he has never seen. I told him of my thoughts when I had watched it again, and he said that it didn't sound like something he'd like to watch. He made a comment (not a direct quote -- I can't remember exactly how he phrased it) about it being the type of movie that makes people shudder at what must be done to protect America. Is Jack Nicholson the bad guy, or has he done what was necessary to keep America safe? I don't have the answers to those questions. We also talked about the Ethics in America program and the SSG Alban case. The husband didn't like to face these issues at all, probably because every servicemember fears being in those shoes.

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November 17, 2004

MEMORIAL

It's days like this when we're reminded that freedom isn't free. -- Chaplain Jacob

I just got back from the memorial service for CSM Faulkenburg, CPT Sims, 1LT Iwan, and SSG Matteson. 2-2 INF lost four great leaders in one week; for those of you unfamiliar with the military, these are four top-of-the-hierarchy men, all four of them leaders who touched many lives. What struck me about this memorial service was the sorrow that the soldiers expressed. I saw four grown men cry as they spoke about the bond they shared with these soldiers. I realized the sorrow that soldiers feel when one of their brothers falls, the bond that simply doesn't develop between colleagues in other professions. I was moved by the pain that these men felt from losing men they'd served with, bunked with, and fought with. It was extremely touching, and I won't soon forget those tears.

I also realized I would follow COL Pittard to the ends of the earth.

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WOAH WOAH WOAH!

I need to apologize to SSG Fitts immediately. Oda Mae just received an email from a soldier downrange, someone who knows SSG Fitts (Oda Mae took out some names, but email left as-is, in all its soldierly glory, i.e. warning: swear words):

You are correct SSG Fitts is a great NCO and very positive guy. He was misquoted. We all hate some of our enbeds.. and the Brit times guys a real cock. VERY annoying wines alot and writes misquotes just to get his points across. However . . . that when these guys write fucked up shit, he won't kick them out.. even when we've asked him to boot them out. I didn't want [Mrs. Sims] to hear about that article, because sean was doing the right thing, and leading from the front, the fucking stupid brit got it all wrong.

My apologies for being down on SSG Fitts (and my apologies for this soldier's dirty mouth). I'm leaving up the post below this one because I don't believe in making the past disappear. But I have no beef with SSG Fitts. Keep that in mind when you scroll to the next post.

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SSG FITTS

Some people thought I was too hard on SSG Fitts. Here's what SSG Fitts said, right after CPT Sims was killed:

"The CO is dead," he rasped, "and I'll tell you why. They were just a gaggle walking into some house. They weren't clearing the building properly before going in. We were doing that, and that's why we're living. Do not let your guard down here, or you'll be the next one dead."

I can only speak as a military wife, since I've never been a soldier. My comments may not reflect the military take on things. But I don't think what SSG Fitts said was a reflection of respect or loyalty.

I know that statements like these are made about the out-group: one company might pump themselves up by saying they're better/smarter/more hooah than another company, or platoon to platoon or battalion to battalion. However, I think it comes across as extremely crass when it's done within the in-group, especially right after a death and in front of a reporter! I don't know what tone of voice SSG Fitts used, but it doesn't sound to me like he's trying to scare the men into be safe; it sounds like he's boasting that he was smarter than the CO and that's why he's still alive. It sounds awful, in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I hear awful statements quite frequently. In my job, I work with only enlisted soldiers, and after a year, the comments about officers have started to wear me down. According to many NCOs, officers are unnecessary and worthless. Once when some of my students found out that my husband is an officer, they said, "At least please tell us that he's prior enlisted!" The look of disgust on these NCO faces when they learned he was ROTC was obvious. "I hate lieutenants," one of them said. Gee, thanks. Right before 1ID deployed, the 1SG stood up in front of our FRG and said, "The CO cares about the mission; I care about the men." Nice statement, thanks. Officers are apparently promotion-hungry morons who should just sit in the rear and let the real men take care of the company. Statements like this get made all the time, so when SSG Fitts paints the CO as a lollygagger who got his dumb ass shot, it makes me mad.

But I read this article as a wife. Maybe soldiers don't pay as much attention to these remarks -- though I don't see how constant griping about how dumb the LTs are wouldn't have an effect on unit cohesion -- and maybe I'm just being over-sensitive. But wives read these articles. Mrs. Sims is printing and saving everything written about her husband to make a scrapbook so that someday her son can learn about his father. Do you think she wants that nasty comment by SSG Fitts in her memories? Look, son, this "combat-hardened NCO" says that your daddy was a screw-up. We family members don't want to read that; shame on SSG Fitts for saying it and shame on the reporter for printing it.

Imagine your spouse gets killed in a car accident. Then imagine that the newspaper writes an article about the accident and interviews a witness who says, "If the driver hadn't been swerving around like a madman and had been more responsible, he/she might still be alive today!" How would that make you feel, to read that about your own spouse? Now imagine the witness was a close friend, someone who should show respect and loyalty. That's how I as a spouse read that article. CPT Sims and SSG Fitts worked together. From everything I've heard, CPT Sims was one of the most respected COs on this post. I think SSG Fitts should've shown more tact and respect in the moments after CPT Sims was killed.

My two cents: take it for what it's worth.

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November 11, 2004

VETERANS

When most of us think of Veterans, we think of the beginning scenes of Saving Private Ryan, the elderly man walking through the white crosses in France. But there's a new face for Veterans these days, a baby face, on soldiers much younger than even I.

newvet.jpg

Our vets come in all shapes and sizes these days, some of them born as recently as 1986. Yet they're just as distinguished as vets such as my grandfather. Take the time to visit some Milblogs today and pay tribute to the many vets we have out in the 'sphere.

As for me, I'm gonna go hug my favorite vet right now.

The Big Red One has put together a video tribute to our Veterans through the ages. It's also dedicated to CSM Faulkenburg, a Soldier from our post who was killed in Fallujah this week.

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