So is this a holiday or what?


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
March 19, 2012

Presidential Proclamation — National Day of Honor

NATIONAL DAY OF HONOR

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

Nine years ago, members of the United States Armed Forces crossed the sands of the Iraq-Kuwait border and began one of the most challenging missions our military has ever known.  They left the comforts of home and family, volunteering in service to a cause greater than themselves.  They braved insurgency and sectarian strife, knowing too well the danger of combat and the cost of conflict.  Yet, through the dust and din and the fog of war, they never lost their resolve.  Demonstrating unshakable fortitude and unwavering commitment to duty, our men and women in uniform served tour after tour, fighting block by block to help the Iraqi people seize the chance for a better future.  And on December 18, 2011, their mission came to an end.

Today, we honor their success, their service, and their sacrifice.  In one of our Nation’s longest wars, veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn wrote one of the most extraordinary chapters in American military history.  When highways became mine fields and uncertainty waited behind every corner, service members rose to meet the task at hand with unmatched courage and determination.  They learned languages and cultures, taking on new roles as diplomats and development experts to improve the communities where they served.  Their strength toppled a tyrant, and their valor helped build opportunity in oppression’s place.  Across nearly 9 years of conflict, the glory of their service — as well as the contributions of other members of the U.S. Government and our coalition partners — always shone through.

The war left wounds not always seen, but forever felt.  The burden of distance and the pain of loss weighed heavily on the hearts of millions at home and overseas.  Behind every member of our military stood a parent, a spouse, or a son or daughter who proudly served their community and prayed for their loved one’s safe return.  For wounded warriors, coming home marked the end of one battle and the beginning of another — to stand, to walk, to recover, and to serve again.  And, in war’s most profound cost, there were those who never came home.  Separated by time and space but united by their love of country, nearly 4,500 men and women are eternally bound; though we have laid them to rest, they will live on in the soul of our Nation now and forever.  To them, to their families, and to all who served, we owe a debt that can never be fully repaid.

When we returned the colors of United States Forces Iraq and the last of our troops set foot on American soil, we reflected on the extraordinary service and sacrifice of those who answered our country’s call.  Their example embodied that fundamental American faith that tells us no mission is too hard, no challenge is too great, and that through tests and through trials, we will always emerge stronger than before.  Now, our Nation reaffirms our commitment to serve veterans of Iraq as well as they served us — to uphold the sacred trust we share with all who have worn the uniform.  Our future is brighter for their service, and today, we express our gratitude by saying once more:  Welcome home.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 19, 2012, as a National Day of Honor.  I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the return of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this nineteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

I am a little confused. Is this in addition to, in lieu of or to supplement Veteran’s Day? Are we supposed to do something special today? And why are we just now hearing about this today? How am I supposed to

  “observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that commemorate the return of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq”

when I just found out about this today? I am being honest and sincere here people, WTF am I supposed to do with this?

Does anyone know? Can anyone give me guidance? I really don’t know what this day means now except that it is the anniversary of the day we crossed int Iraq.

I still think that is what Veterans Day is for, but maybe I am missing something here or is this just political eye-wash?

 

 

 

 

Video portrayal of David Bellavia’s actions in Iraq

I found this video today thanks to David himself. I had no idea that someone had created a re-enactment of one of his actions in Iraq in 2004. Not just any action but the one for which he was and still is recommended for the Medal of Honor. David is a friend and I am glad to call him such. 

I talked about David’s book, House to House, which has this one incident documented in great detail along with a whole lots more from this tour. You can read that posting at: http://www.bouhammer.com/2010/09/my-own-return/

Take a minute and listen to David talk about this one particular day as they show the re-enactment and then go check out the book at: http://www.amazon.com/House-David-Bellavia/dp/1416574719  because you won’t be disappointed in reading it. 

 

 

War is UGLY, that is why so few of us are willing to do it

I was originally going to write this for the YouServed.com blog, but decided against it as I didn’t want to bring any controversy over there. I am sure I will get some military-hating, unpatriotic and ignorant about combat people to comment on this. So to those people, feel free to comment.

If you have seen the video that WikiLeaks that came out in the press the other day, then I am sure you have an opinion about it. I personally watched the entire the entire 39 minutes, and 14 seconds.

I have embedded the video below in case you have not seen it. However let me caution you that for those that are easily disturbed and upset, this video could be uncomfortable for you to watch. Also, let me caution you to please ignore the liberal-leaning spun comments by wiki-leaks at the start and the end.


Yesterday I was invited to be on BBC’s World Have Your Say. A show that I am regularly on as a guest. However I could not make it yesterday but a fellow milblogger CDR Salamander did a great job pointing out the true facts and putting the video in context. You can listen to the archive of the BBC program at

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/whys/whys_20100406-1925a.mp3

It may or may not (if you have ever heard me on this show) surprise you how many ignorant and un-educated people there are in the world that have never been in combat but all seem to be experts on what it is like or supposed to be like. CDR Salamander did a superb job on the show countering so many “disturbed people”. Also, the host of the show did as good as always of keeping the guests on tasks and very balanced.

So here is my opinion, without re-hashing too much of CDR Salamander. If you watch the video there is without a doubt there are weapons being carried by some of the insurgents. There is also no doubt that the pilots did not willy-nilly shoot at these people, they confirmed PID (Positive Identity), and they did this several time. The pilots identified weapons multiple times, they cleared with higher command to engage, what angle to engage, etc.

Some have mentioned that the the soldiers treated this like a video game. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Let me clear something up here. Video games are created to mimic war, not the other way around. We don’t conduct warfare to look like video games. They try to make their games as realistic as possible. I guarantee you that the ground soldiers who eventually made it on scene were not thinking of video games as they worked to clear the ground and then had to deal with two wounded children. The pilots look through their optics and that is how they engage with their weapons. What do people expect them to do, open the canopy and shoot their hand-held weapons and throw down hand-grenades.

Soldiers cannot get wrapped around every single life they are forced to take by virtue of being in combat. Soldiers (and I use soldiers generally describing all service-members), use dark humor and take it all in stride when they have to take lives. They can’t be effective by getting wrapped around the axle over taking human lives. So what you hear in this video is soldiers being soldiers. Nobody likes killing innocents, especially children and that is evident when the soldiers on the ground immediately start calling for a MEDEVAC to come get the wounded children.

This is a GREAT video, it shows how efficient our military is. It also shows the number of hoops our soldiers go through before they engage. Lastly it shows how our soldiers quickly transition from life-takers to life-savers when enemy or innocents are wounded. God Bless our military, and God Bless all the men involved with this one incident. I hope they don’t regret or feel bad about anything in this video. I also pray and hope that the military has their men’s backs and don’t cave to the liberal leaning media.

I am really looking forward to comments on this one. I would like to know what you think.

For some other views and opinion on this topic, I suggest checking out
http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/201901.php
http://hotair.com/archives/2010/04/05/video-collateral-murder-or-the-risks-of-war-zones/
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2010/04/open-letter-to-centcom-pao.html
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2010/04/the-wikileaks-video.html
http://www.blackfive.net/main/2010/04/wikileaks-or-agitprop.html


Introduction to Mike Scotti, Part I

This blog posting it is the first in a series where I am going to introduce the readers of this blog to Mr. Mike Scotti. Mike is a very interesting individual that we had as a guest on You Served Radio last night. I was honored to get to talk to him and am looking forward to working with him more in the future on several things that are of interest to both of us.

This first blog posting about Mike is an initial introduction to this Marine warrior and the recent piece he wrote for cnn.com. In fact Mike is going to be featured in Newsweek next week and be on CNN in a few days. Mike is the film-maker, editor, creator of the real-world Iraq war documentary, Severe Clear.

 

Mike’s piece he wrote for CNN.com offers a glimpse into him as a man, as a Marine and as a vet. He also discusses how he is not capitalizing on the release of the movie, Severe Clear but instead is using it as a rung in the ladder to greater and bigger things.

I looked around. The chamber music quartet, the beautiful bridesmaids, the steak dinner … none of it was real. My buddies were, at that moment, probably on patrol and quite possibly engaged with the enemy. That was real.

And as for the other guests at the table who were staring at me in my dress blues, we were no longer even the same species.

 

You can read the entire piece at http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/03/10/scotti.war.veterans/index.html

 

Look for Part II about the interview and Part III, my review of the film Severe Clear in the  coming days.

Providers pay final respect to fallen Soldier

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Soldiers and Airmen gathered to pay their final respects to Sgt. William C. Spencer, at a fallen Soldier ceremony March 1 at the Joint Operations Center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Spencer, a gunner with G Company, 106th Brigade Support Battalion, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), died Feb. 25 from an aneurysm while serving at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.
Spencer, a Clinton, Ky., native, was born Aug. 11, 1969, and is survived by his mother, Sharon Welch, and his sister, Sharon Whittle.
He was posthumously promoted from specialist to sergeant Feb. 25.
Spc. Quentin K. Schul, the administrative operations chaplain assistant with the 13th ESC and a Victoria, Texas, native, spoke at the ceremony and read Spencer’s biography.
“(Sgt.) William Clifton Spencer gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “We will not forget.”
Col. Knowles Y. Atchison, deputy commander for the 13th ESC, placed the ceremonial identification tags on the fallen warrior memorial in the foyer of the JOC.
Sgt. Spencer is a hero, said Atchison, a Fort Hood, Texas, resident.
“This is a sad moment,” he said. “If he had not been here, would he still be living? That is what I ask myself. We will never know the answer to that question, but the fact is that he was here and he was making a contribution, he was serving his country. That makes him a hero. It puts him in the top five percent of the American population.”
Spencer will not be forgotten, said Atchison.

Col. Knowles Y. Atchison, deputy commander with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and a Fort Hood, Texas, resident, places Sgt. William C. Spencer’s identification tags on the fallen warrior memorial March 1, after a ceremony in Spencer’s honor in the foyer of the Joint Operations Center at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Spencer, a gunner with G Company, 106th Brigade Support Battalion, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th ESC and a Clinton, Ky., native, died Feb. 25 from an aneurysm while serving at Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.


What a tragedy-UPDATED

I have updated the post below after reading some of the comments, giving it some more thought and doing some research. I think I had some facts wrong and I think I threw in some emotion of my own that did not need to be in the posting as it added nothing to it. The updates I typed in are in pink, the items I retracted are struck out. The bottom line of the posting is this. Two men were murdered, one man got away with it (in my opinion) and another man will never be able to demonstrate his leadership abilities to this entire country. I am not convinced it is as a result of the murder, but someone seems to think so. That is her opinion and freedom to believe that. Let me again express my condolences to all who were personally affected by these tragedies.

In 2005 a 1LT Louis Allen (HHC, 42nd Division Executive Officer) and CPT Phillip Esposito (HHC, 42nd Division Company Commander) were murdered (fragged) while in Iraq with the New York National Guard’s 42nd Division. It was a very sad and tragic thing indeed. What was also tragic was that the prime suspect in the case, a SSG Alberto Martinez who was the Supply Sergeant for that company was tried and either because he was not guilty or because the prosecution did not do its job properly, was found not-guilty.

I don’t know SSG Martinez personally, nor did I know Esposito or Allen personally, but I know enough people that do and were very close to this case who are adamant that Martinez was guilty and had performed this act.

Someone I do know personally is The Adjutant General of New York, Major General Joe Taluto. MG Taluto was the Commander of the 42nd Division when it went to Iraq and when this tragedy happened. Before Martinez’s trial was over MG Taluto was selected as the next Director of the National Guard. This was a 3-star position, which is very hard for a National Guard officer to achieve as there are now only 3 total 3-star positions ( I believe) that National Guard Generals can be in.

Right after the verdict was passed down on Martinez, the widow of CPT Esposito lashed out in anger and demanded an investigation into MG Taluto saying he was at fault and that because of his leadership at the Division level, her husband was killed by one of his own soldiers. Now anyone that knows military ranks and levels of leadership know that blaming the Division Commander is like blaming the President for something that a TSA agent does at an airport. Those two positions (Division Commander and Company Commander) are so far apart and disconnected, it isn’t even funny. It is asinine, idiotic and downright stupid to hold a CG accountable for something like a fragging within a company.

However Mrs. Esposito, out of an act of desperation and anger to hold someone accountable went after MG Taluto. Because of her failure to understand misunderstanding of the Army rank systems, her frustration with the Army not doing its job on the prosecution, and her unfortunate position as the poor widow she got and maintained attention on the matter. long enough to stall the confirmation of MG Taluto for the NG Director position and his 3rd star. After the process dragged on for 9 months, last Thursday MG Taluto announced his retirement and his request to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau to remove him from the confirmation process.

Many in the New York National Guard were shocked and saddened by MG Taluto’s announcement. He has proved himself a great and inspirational leader among the men and women of the National Guard of New York and he would have carried on those traits to all the men and women of he our entire National Guard across all states and territories. It was the latest tragedy in this chain of events. This country is being robbed of a great leader and who knows how many good things would have happened with him at the helm. Now we will never know, because of the desperate actions of one widow who was going to hold someone accountable for her husband’s murder, regardless of who it was.

To make matters worse, Siobnan Esposito released a Press Release last Friday herself to announce how “happy” she was that MG Taluto is retiring and that it was a result of her complaint and investigation that she pushed for.

Initially this blog posting gave credit to Mrs. Esposito and her investigation as to why MG Taluto’s confirmation was delayed. However after some more research and probing, I am not sure that is the case. I think a large part of the delay was based on the Congress being saturated with Town Hall hearings, and a lot of time spent on Health Care and the Financial Crisis. Yes I am sure the approving authority could have knocked out the approval really quick, but I am not too sure now that her inquiry was that instrumental in the whole delay. I could be wrong there also, but I am not sure we will ever know. Had her inquiry been taken more seriously I am sure we would have seen several hearings on the hill into the fragging incident and the bungled case against Martinez. So I struck out in this blog the references to Mrs. Esposito being the sole cause of the delay.

Well no thanks to you Ms. Esposito, our country as a whole will never be able to enjoy the leadership of MG Taluto. I am not sure what that will do to bring your husband back or punish those who blew the claymore mine that killed him, but I guess in some sick, twisted way it makes sense to you.

Press Release is located at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/01/prweb3538464.htm


A post you should read today

Teflon Don is a long time blogger that I have a loose connection with via The Sandbox. This soldier/writer has a heck of a way with words. He does not post as much anymore but when he does they are something to read. The  one he has up now is about a friend of his who has gotten himself into trouble. It serves as an example of how things go wrong when a returning combat vet does not get the help he needs. It is called Shadows of War. I encourage you to click below and read it.

http://acutepolitics.blogspot.com/2009/07/shadows-of-war.html

Don’t Let Them Die in Vain

Apparently we never learn our lessons. Take a look at www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,529788,00.html and you will see that thanks to McChrystal’s new “fight friendlier” campaign we are not utilizing our combat multipliers like close air support and indirect fire. Somehow this has become a positive talking point.

The Marines have used no indirect fire as they move into position — meaning no artillery and no bombs have been dropped from the air — all part of an effort to avoid civilian casualties, Pelletier said.

I guess the military leadership has forgotten the lessons of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan (2002) where not having these assets caused us to lose good American soldiers.

Not to take a swipe at my Marine brothers, but you know they tried this “fight friendlier” campaign in 2004 when they took over the Anbar Province in Iraq from the 82nd Airborne, and look where that got them in Ramadi in April of that year. They were not ready for such an intense and prolonged battle in an area that they had been saying they would patrol the streets among the people in a peaceful manner.

Please GEN McChrystal, do not allow more Marines and Soldiers to die in vain in order to appease the crooked and piece of crap leadership of Afghanistan. I know you are a smart and experienced leader but do what your gut says to do and not what a civilian or a corrupt piece of crap like Karzai is telling you to do.

PLEASE, Don’t let them die in vain.

God Speed Black Knight

My very first unit was 2/5 Cavalry and I am very proud to have been a Black Knight. On this day as we celebrate Iraq taking over more security of their country and our soldiers pulling back from the major cities we see that War is War and it is still a dangerous place.

In 2006 I was telling people to not write off Afghanistan because there was very much a war going on there. Today I say the same thing about Iraq. Just because the MSM isn’t telling you about it every night, does not mean it is not happening.

 

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt. Timothy A. David, 28, of Gladwin, Mich., died June 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered earlier in Sadr City, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

A tribute to the Fallen of Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq

The moving Vietnam Memorial Wall has been in Knox Park in East Aurora, New York since Saturday. I went tonight to see it right before the storm hit and was equally pleased to see another memorial there…one to all the fallen of OIF and OEF.

They have these big plaques with gold dog tags in them with the names, dates, rank of every fallen soldier in both wars. It felt very good to rub the names of great soldiers I know or know of like Roustum, Scheuster, Rodriguez, Seabrooks, Mangano, Lundell, Deghand, Rafferty, and McCloughlin.

The memorial is going to be taken down at dusk on Monday night, with a closing cermony. So if you live in the Western New York area and read this blog you have until then to get down there and see it.