Friday, April 30, 2010

Weighty Comments

Today on the training ride one of my friends rode behind me on one of the climbs toward Highville and asked "So how much weight do you think you've gained since you got back?"  I said about 10 pounds.  It was more like five, but my weight can vary by five pounds in a weekend depending on how much I eat and if I dehydrate myself.

Competitive men in spandex are a rough crowd in matters of weight.  In the Army, weight is a little less obvious in the ACU uniform because the shirt is not tucked into the pants.  In fact, the Army refers to it as a jacket, even though we wear just a t-shirt underneath it.

I am sure to gain more weight next week.  I in a bike race on May 1 and the Tough Mudder on May 2.  Both events will exhaust me.  I will eat a lot and my weight won't go back to 190 for a week--let alone 182-186 where it stayed in Iraq.  Every pound makes a difference on a bike going up a hill!


Tough Mudder vs. Ironman, Part 3

Tough Mudder vs. Ironman, Part 2

Tough Mudder vs. Ironman is Here

Second Tough Mudder Report

First Tough Mudder Finish

First Tough Mudder Photos

First Tough Mudder Entry

Ironman Plans

Ironman Training

Ironman Bucket List

Ironman Idea

Ironman Danger

Ironman Friendship

Thursday, April 29, 2010

For Action-Sports Enthusiasts, There’s Tough Mudder’s Grueling Course - NYTimes.com

The NY Times wrote about the race I am doing Sunday. Looks like fun!!!!

For Action-Sports Enthusiasts, There’s Tough Mudder’s Grueling Course - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Christmas in April

Yesterday I got my bikes and baggage back from Iraq--a footlocker, a duffel bag, my rucksack and two bike boxes.  The are both broken so tomorrow I will take the to Bike Line of Lancaster to get repaired.  I will leave at least one and maybe both in Philadelphia.  The bikes I took to Iraq are single speeds.  They are not great for Lancaster but good for Philadelphia where the city is flat. 

I have not completely unpacked, but it seems strange that I had all this stuff in Iraq.  I haven't seen it since November so I forgot what I packed for shipment home.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Friends Old and New

Today I spent five hours in the car driving to Fort Indiantown Gap at 6:45 am then to Philadelphia then back at 10:45 pm.  A very long day.

Those of you who believe one should not drive and talk on a cell phone should stop reading right now.

During the 300-odd minutes I was in the car, more than half on the PA Turnpike.  One the way to Philadelphia I called my Iraq "Roomie" Nickey Smith.  We talked for a half hour about how his life is going since his return and gossiped about some of the people in Echo we liked and some we didn't.  Nickey told me about getting sent to Oklahoma to reroute the gear for Connecticut soldiers.  He was one of two who went.  Others should have and did not. 

It did not surprise me at all that he would keep his word and trudge on when others did not.  I have written before that he took over for a squad leader who got relieved and unlike me and several others, stuck with his squad and with the motor pool when other sergeants jumped for greener pastures.  For his loyalty, Nickey got an average evaluation which the motor sergeant and motor officer knew was actually a rotten evaluation in a world where all evaluations are as highly inflated as inner tubes used for floating in a pond. 

Next time I drive to Boston, I am hoping to stop at his house and meet his family.  Who knows, his wife might be curious about the old white guy that her husband roomed with for most of a year.

On the way home, I called Abel Lopez, my best friend from back in the 70s in Germany.  We reminisced more than usual and talked about music the guys we served with listened to.  Abel reminded be that Gene Pierce listed over and over to his one Alice Cooper album (remember--this was back when cassette tapes were new technology!).  Everybody listened to Peter Frampton, "Do You Feel Like I Do."

We also talked about immigration.  Abel thinks it's a good idea to keep the gangs out, but he lives near the border in San Diego and knows that if California passes a law like Arizona, he and his family will be profiled.  Abe was born in San Diego, but his parents are both Mexican, so he, and especially his son, are likely to be hassled or swept up if profiling becomes legal.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Still More Welcome Home Pictures


Cheneen Nicholson-Carter and some of her family and friends


Major Hayes, SPC Broome, LTC Doud, and others






LTC Perry, MAJ Feddersen, Mrs. Feddersen











Perkins and Lake families












CSM Dell Christine

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Soccer Tournament

Yesterday I took Nigel and Jacari to Lauren's Spring Soccer Tournament.  Juniata College played six other teams in half-hour games in a one-day tournament.  Lauren is one of two junior goalkeepers who will be playing their final season this fall.  The other is Kristen Penska.

The tournament, falling on Saturday, April 24, meant the soccer team could not attend the annual Juniata College Pig Roast.  So Kristen's father, David Penska, brought a roasted pig to the tournament.  It was carved, but the pig's head was left roasted and intact as the centerpiece for the serving table.  So we all had roast pig in the gym at Lebanon Valley College, site of the soccer tournament.

Thanks Dave!!!



Nigel, Jacari and Lauren after the tournament


The Juniata Women's Soccer Team plus Nigel and Jacari





The guest of honor

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me--I Won the News Quiz

I was the first contestant today on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" the NPR News Quiz.  You can listen on line here, but like most call-in guests, I don't say much.  This weeks comedian/panel is Tom Bodette, Paula Poundstone, and P.J. O'Rourke.  Jokes about Iceland went past me so fast I thought I could feel wind through the phone.

The three questions were very easy so I won the prize, Carl Castle's voice on my answering machine.  The producer I spoke with said you can have pretty much anything for a greeting.  I just have to write it out and Carl will record on a CD.  The best suggestion I have heard so far was from my wife who said the greeting could be:  "This is Carl Kasell from NPR News, Neil and I are out training for the Tour de France and can't come to the phone right now, please leave a message and one of us will get back to you."

But I have a few days before sending in my script.  If you have an idea for a greeting that tops Carl and I training for the Tour, let me know what it is.



Friday, April 23, 2010

Reality Day

Today I talked to two close friends today and had one of those reality checks only real friends will give you.  The first conversation was about racing, the second about writing. 

On the subject of riding, I am way behind in bicycle racing fitness.  I know it sounds cool that I rode 5000 miles in Iraq and a total of 7000 miles last year, but nearly all of it was what racers call "junk miles."  I rode to and from work on base.  I rode ten-mile laps around the base, but never pushed myself in the way that riding with other racers pushes me.

Anyway, I told my friend about having the PA Senior Games as my goal for the year and the National Senior Games as my goal for next year.  He thought that was a good plan.  Between the reduced amount of training I do compared to before deployment and the "year off" riding in Iraq, he was sure there was not much chance I would be competitive in licensed races anytime soon, maybe not for years if at all.  Comebacks are not easy at 57.

A few hours later I talked to a good friend who is an excellent writer.  I said. "Maybe I am wasting my time riding 10 or more hours a week to get back in shape when I have the opportunity to write a book."  He asked me what I could get from a book.  Clearly not money.  Every author I know personally writes for money to supplement their incomes.  Then he talked about audience.  He reminded me that the people who most admire what I did want me to stop talking whenever politics comes up.  And the people who agree with my politics think I am certifiable for going.  He's right of course. If I had a Big Idea, maybe, but for right now I just have a title and a lot of stories. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Even More Pictures from the Welcome Home


Maj. Joel Allmandinger, battalion commander, Mechanicsburg Mens Club, event sponsor.




SPC Aaron Trimmer with his daughter




















                                         SPC and Mrs Matias


Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the ceremony




Some members of the Family Readiness Group

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

More Pictures from the Welcome Home

I have enough pictures from the Welcome Home Party that I will post them a half-dozen at a time for the next several posts.


 SFC Melanie McCracken and SPC Andrea Magee



Capt Nate Smith as emcee


1LT Marquardt with his wife--who is taking a picture of me taking a picture.



Chief Witmer organized the party beginning back in Iraq--with Donna Brown and the FRG


Task Force Diablo Company Commanders


Mechanicsburg Men's Club sponsored the party

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Back to Training--On the Road

Tonight I rode the city training race in Philadelphia, three laps of the east and west drives along the Schuykill River.  I got dropped from the main pack on the 2nd mile.  We were riding 30-33mph on a flat road and I was wheezing in seconds.  I ended up riding with five other dropouts in a pace line.  We were taking turns at the front for a while then two of us started taking long pulls at the front.  We were riding 24-26 mph so I have a long way to to go to get competitive again. 

Tomorrow I am going to run.  The Tough Mudder race is less than two weeks away and I need to put some miles in before the race starts.  I have been in the gym three or four days a week, not quite as much as Iraq, but its all I've got for the Mudder race.

Two other members of Task Force Diablo are doing the Mudder, so if I end up doing terrible or dropping out, I can still write about them.  They are Major Joel Allmandinger, our new commander, and 1st Lt. Carolina Kelley, our new intelligence officer.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Celebrity in MY House--Janelle Stelson

WGAL TV, Channel 8, in Lancaster PA is interviewing soldiers who recently returned from deployment in Iraq.  Today Janelle Stelson went to Philadelphia with me on the train and interviewed me about life in Iraq and about coming home.  At the end of the day, she and the cameraman, Dan Maddox, were back talking to my wife and my son Nigel.  The story is supposed to air in May. 

Janelle Stelson co-anchors "News 8 at 5:30" and "News 8 at 11" each weeknight.


News 8's Janelle Stelson.
The recipient of several Associated Press awards for reporting, Janelle joined WGAL-TV in 1997. Her 17 years of broadcasting experience include covering stories both nationally and internationally.

Janelle's first job was writing speeches at the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C.Her journalism career began at WHTM-TV in Harrisburg, as a general assignment reporter and weather anchor. In 1989 she moved to Miami to work for WPLG-TV, where she covered hurricanes, Haitian riots and one of the biggest drug busts in U.S. history. Janelle returned to the Susquehanna Valley to anchor the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts for WHP-TV in Harrisburg.

She also worked with WITF public radio, hosted a statewide public television broadcast with the governor of Pennsylvania and anchored "Computer Chronicles" on PBS.Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, Janelle grew up in the Seattle area of Washington state.She graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor of arts degree in politics and government. She also studied international politics and advanced German language at the Austro-American Institute in Vienna, Austria.

Janelle flew to New York City with National Guard troops a few days after the Sept. 11 attacks, for a story on delivering supplies to the World Trade Center recovery site. She also recently interviewed First Lady Laura Bush and hosted an event with former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.Janelle's strong commitment to the community includes speaking to numerous groups and serving on the board of directors for the Humane League of Lancaster County. The annual reader poll for Senior News of Lancaster County and Dauphin County named Janelle "Best News Anchor."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Change of Command, Battalion and Brigade

This afternoon, both the 28th Combat Aviation Brigade and 2-104th GSAB (Task Force Diablo in Iraq) got new commanders.  The links are to previous posts with stories about the incoming and outgoing Task Force Diablo Commanders.

Brigade Change of command formation in main hangar at Fort Indiantown Gap.


 MAJ Joel Allmandinger takes battalion flag from LTC David Wood, 28th CAB commander.



MAJ Allmandinger in front of battalion formation.



LTC David Wood takes command of 28th Combat Aviation Brigade.
 

LTC Wood with Brigade flag.


LTC Scott Perry with his wife Christy after the change of command.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Welcome Home Party

Tonight we had our official welcome home party at the PA Farm Show, the same place we had our going away party 15 months before.  This time we wore civilian clothes even though we were getting paid.  this weekend was the first weekend back to drilling since we got back from Iraq.  Tomorrow we will report in the morning in ACUs and really be back to Army weekends.
Tonight was a lot of fun seeing people I had not seen since January.  Here's some of the photos:

1LT Joel Candelario asked his fiance to marry him during dinner--it was a surprise that Andrea Magee almost gave away ten minutes before Joel popped the question, but it was a big surprise.

The other over-50 soldiers from Echo Company.  SGT Bruce Reiner is on the right with his wife.  SFCs Glen Valencia, and Larry Christman.

Several sergeants in Delta Company made flowered shirts the uniform of the night.


Nigel and Jacari found a new friend with a game console.


Joseph Weese and Tood Tarbox of Echo Company.


Kauffman and Thompson--serious about dinner.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Video in Two Weeks

Today I made a video explaining the difference between MREs and C-rations.  I happened to have one box of 30-year-old C-rations in a closet.  As it turns out it was a beans and franks meal with canned fruitcake for dessert. 
YUM!
I did not open any cans.  The video is for an article on the chemistry of field for Chemical and Engineering News magazine.  I will post the link when it is published on line.  It should be May 3.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back to Playing Army

On Saturday I will be back to weekend drills for the first time since 2008.  On Saturday we have a welcome home party at the Farm Show Arena.  On Sunday it's business as usual with an 0800 formation.  For me I have to catch up on some required online training.  I could do it at home, except I loaned my PC to another sergeant in Iraq and he still has it.  Macs don't run Explorer so I can't do Army on-line training on my computer.

It is finally official (I think) that I am in Headquarters Company.  I will be bringing my Army camera to the Farm Show Saturday night and taking pictures of soldiers who back to whatever all of us consider to be normal life.

I'll post the some of the shots on Sunday or as soon as I can.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Celebrities in the House--Saving Abel

On the first night of the milblogging conference, the evening ended with free concert by the group Saving Abel.
The groups performed free of charge for the conference and just returned from a series of concerts in Iraq.  Photos are here.

According to this story and an item I just saw on USAToday.com the band just performed on a warship in the Pacific.  This story is from Artist Direct:

Saving Abel re-teamed with the USO and boarded the USS Carl Vinson as part of a USO concert at sea that rocked the waves on April 11. The band performed for sailors returning from a three-month deployment at sea. It appears that Saving Abel have strong stomachs, since they played atop six-foot waves and 13 miles-per-hour winds entertaining more than 2,000 sailors. Footage from the USO show will be broadcast online in late Spring/early Summer.

The performance lasted 90-minutes and the band cops to being avid military supporters. And really, does anyone but far-out-in-left-field-liberals-whack-jobswho-don't-trust-humans admit that they don't support our forces? I'm not a conservative by any means, but really? Does anyone lay claim to being anti-the troops? Nevertheless, the band traveled to Kuwait and Iraq in late February, and participated in an eight-day USO tour. The band visited four bases and touched the lives of more than 4,800 troops. Footage from the group's concert at Camp Arifjan was later streamed online with help from Ustream. The show was viewed by more than 9,600 fans.

The band will release its sophomore album Miss America on June 8, 2010. The platter is named after their first USO tour, the album title was inspired by the service and sacrifice of America’s troops and their families. So these guys truly are avid supporters of the men and women fighting for our freedom, so not only do we salute said freedom fighters, we salute Saving Abel for their efforts.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Celebrity in the House--Baldilocks

At a military blogging conference you meet people that defy stereotypes.  After all, they are people who write who also volunteered to go to war.  The top of my list in the defy-the-stereotype category is Baldilocks.

Check her story out:

Obama vs. Baldilocks

A blogger's African dad came here on the same airlift as Obama's dad. All similarities end there

Los Angeles blogger Juliette Ochieng has a lot in common with the man who might be the next president, Barack Obama. A lot.
Both were born to Kenyan fathers of the same tribe (the Luo) from the same province (Nyanza), and both of their fathers came as boys to America aboard the same airplane. Growing up, neither Ochieng nor Obama knew their fathers, who both abandoned their American mothers and left their American-born children behind. Both of their fathers returned to Africa in the early 1960s and became friends, bonding at Kenyan bars over their favorite drink — Scotch. Both Ochieng’s and Obama’s mothers contracted ovarian cancer. (Hers survived it; his did not). Both Ochieng and Obama were born in the U.S. in August 1961 — only weeks apart.
But for someone with parallel beginnings, Juliette Akinyi Ochieng is quite different: Evangelical Christian. Working class. Military veteran. Pro-life. Conservative Republican.
Ochieng went to Los Angeles City College, not Harvard. Although she was born in Chicago — Obama’s political birthplace — she lives in South-Central Los Angeles, where she grew up. And since 2003, she has written a blog, luoamerican.com/baldilocks, better known as Baldilocks, a reference to her fashionably close-shaven head. Her soft speech belies her harsh yet thoughtful commentaries on black politics and national security from a conservative perspective.
Last month, she penned an essay for her site and for Republican-oriented pajamasmedia.com, bemoaning blacks’ loyalty to the Democrats. Last week, as Russian tanks rolled through Georgia, Ochieng, who worked for years as an Air Force Intelligence cryptologist-linguist specializing in Russian and German, mused about that conflict.
“She was very shaped by her experiences in the military,” says fellow blogger Patrick Frey, the deputy district attorney who founded Patterico.com. “She has very strong opinions, and she’s a very religious person. She’s very warm and hospitable.”

Read the whole story here.

She is sweet and funny in person.  Her views warm the hearts of Conservatives everywhere.


Blogger Juliette Ochieng in her South-Central 
backyard

Monday, April 12, 2010

Thunder Run on My Blog

For those who have not checked out Thunder Run--follow the links below to the daily news from Iraq, Afghanistan and military bloggers.

In today's http://www.thunderrun.us/2010/04/from-front-04122010.html ">From the Front: (Click on link to read stories highlighted below) This post is courtesy of http://www.thunderrun.us/"> The Thunder Run

http://www.thunderrun.us/">The Thunder Run's From the Front is a daily series that highlights news and personal dispatched from the front and the home front.

Celebrity (Author) in the House--Dr. Charles W. Hoge


On Saturday while I was waiting for one of the sessions to start I met Dr. Charles Hoge.  He wrote the book Once a Warrior--Always a Warrior.  I reviewed the book on March 14 and found it more useful than I would have thought for me.  I would have thought it only applied to soldiers in direct combat, but there are things everyone in Iraq goes through that Dr. Hoge gives good advice on. 
(I can hear some of my friends saying "Going to Iraq for a year can be stressful--this is news to you?!)
Anyway, Dr. Hoge saw my name on my backpack and introduced himself.  We talked for several minutes about the book, Iraq, and reading and then I had to run off to move my car which was parked in a 2-hour meter zone. 
On the way down to the meeting, I talked to a friend who served was in Iraq last year and is having trouble getting back to the old routine.  He has two kids (age 9 and 11) and is having trouble with managing work, family, and all the details.  He wants to go back to fixing Chinooks 14 hours a day.  If he would read the book I would buy it for him, but reading would just stress him out more.  He seems ready to ask for help.  That's good news.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Celebrity in the House--WW2 Combat Cameraman

One really riveting presentation was a 20-minute film from the battle of Tarawa atoll in World War 2.  The narrator was 91-year-old Norman Hatch, a Staff Sergeant and combat movie photographer who went ashore during this very bloody battle.   He was the person of the week on ABC news and has made many other appearances on TV and radio recently.  Hatch talked about how he got some of the shots and the advantages of filming in the Pacific compared with the war in Europe.

Hatch shot the only footage in the war in which American soldiers and the enemy are in the same frame.  He spoke in a very matter of fact way through most of the presentation, but got noticeably more animated in talking about this particular shot.  He should have.  He was between two Marines firing from behind a couple of splintered logs.  The Japanese soldiers were maybe 20 feet away, bayonets fixed, charging Hatch's position.  Which brought up one of the great advantages of shooting in the Pacific.  He said in Europe you had to use a long lens because the battles were typically fought at longer ranges.  Of course, it is an advantage to be close enough to see the Japanese soldiers clamber out of a bunker to charge your position, but there are disadvantages to being inside grenade range of an attack by a determined enemy!

Hatch got two standing ovations from the packed room. 

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Celebrities in the House--Gina Elise

Gina Elise operates and is the Star of Pin-Ups for Vets, a non-profit support group for hospitalized veterans.  She visits hospitals and sells posters and calendars.

For more information, Gina has a web site and a Facebook page. 

We talked a little bit about visiting Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.  I had a chance to visit in 2008 and was briefly there in 2010.  Gina visited in 2009.  She happily agreed to getting her picture taken with me--as long as I held the calendar for product placement!!

Celebrities in the House--Garry Trudeau

Today, just after lunch, I met Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury.  We got to talk for a minute and I told him I had his Creationist/Tuberculosis cartoon from December 18, 2005, was on my office door during the time I had an office in Iraq and on my wall at work for two years before deployment.  Trudeau also has a cartoon series on Chickenhawks that I have saved on my hard drive.  Too long to post here but, the Dec. 18 cartoon will fit.
Trudeau did not choose tuberculosis at random.  He is the great-grandson of Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, who created the world-famous Adirondack Cottage Sanitorium for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis at Saranac Lake, New York State. Edward was succeeded by his son Francis and grandson Francis Jr. The latter founded the Trudeau Institute at Saranac Lake, with which his son Garry retains a connection.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Milblogging Conference Opening Reception

Tonight I met several military bloggers I follow and have heard about and follow:
David Marron of Thunder Run
Commander Salamander
Greyhawk and Mrs. Greyhawk
Troy Bouhammer
Major Chuck Zeigenfuss
Mary Ripley who is putting Navy History on line at the US Naval Institute

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Friendship and the Army

Tonight I was at an awards dinner at work.  I sat with three investment managers who sponsored a table at the event.  We talked about Iraq and the good and bad of serving in the Army.  When I mentioned friendship, they knew right away at least one reason why men join and stay in the military. 

Most modern men, unless they have a dangerous hobby or join the Army, have no friends.  At least no friends in any sense that does not beggar the definition of friendship.  One of the men said right away, "In my business I have to know my clients well to advise them."  He said he meets many of his clients when they are middle-aged and have enough wealth to need management advice.  "I ask how many friends they have made in the last year then tell them not to bother answering.  I know already.  The number is zero."

Because soldiers share hardship they get to know each other in a way that mechanics, cooks and office managers will never know each other.  Cops and firefighters have friends.  Soldiers have friends. 

None of these men had served in the military, but they understood why soldiers volunteer for multiple deployments.  Usually the conversations at awards dinners are light and funny.  People who see each other only occasionally or who never met sit together for a couple of hours.  They exchange stories and jokes--the jokes improve with each glass of wine. 

Tonight's conversation was the most intense dinner conversation I can remember in a very long time.  It reminded me yet again how much fun it can be to meet and talk with curious, bright people who can ask thoughtful questions.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Voting Over--4th Place

Thanks to everyone who voted for me.  I had nearly 100 votes and am very happy to finish fourth--happy just to be in the final five.  I will be at the Milblogging conference on Friday evening and Saturday.  I will be blogging from the conference.  It should be interesting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Voting Underway--I am Fourth of Five. . .

. . .Which I am very happy about.  The other Army finalists are two majors and two E-8s, a master sergeant and a first sergeant.  While I am definitely the oldest member of the group, the other bloggers are much my senior in rank and (current) military experience (Although I was a sergeant before they were housebroken.)  If you have not voted and would like to, go to www.milblogging.com and register.  If you have any trouble, email JP at milblogging@gmail.com and he will get you registered.  Voting ends in 40 hours!!!

In other news I was just interviewed for a Florida-based show called Growing Bolder.  I talked with the very enthusiastic hosts about the Army, breaking my neck, adoption and racing.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Dad on Political Violence

My Dad's stories about World War 2 were a big part of my childhood.  They were not the stories I saw on Combat! on TV or read in comics like Sgt. Rock or Sgt. Nick fury and His Howling Commandos.  My Dad enlisted two years before World War 2 actually started and would have gotten out in December of 1941, but no one was discharged from the Army after December 7, 1941.  My father barely made the enlistment cut-off age of 35 at the time he enlisted.  Since he was so old (35 when the war started) and had experience working in a warehouse, the Army sent him to Officer's Candidate School.  My Dad was 15 years older than the average 2nd lieutenant, so he never went overseas.  His first assignment was as a platoon leader in a Black maintenance company in the segregated Army of World War.

Shortly after he was assigned to Camp Shenango in PA, he was the officer on duty on a weekend.  That weekend there was a race riot.  My Dad went out of the headquarters and found himself in front of an armed mob.  He said the young soldier in front had "a 30 Ought 6 aimed right at my belly button."  My father told the soldier with the rifle to "take it easy."  Then he heard someone in the back say "shoot the white . . . "  The words in the rest of the description got coarser as I got older.  I'll assume Motherf##cker was the used at some point.  

Hearing the cowards in the back egging the man in front on, my Dad spoke to the shaking young man in front with the rifle.  "If you pull that trigger the MPs are going to shoot you.  If they don't shoot you they'll hang you.  Nothing will happen to the son of a bitch in the back telling you what to do."  The soldier put down his rifle.  My Dad ordered the men back to their barracks and as far as I know never said anything further about the incident.  He commanded a black company before being reassigned to Fort Indiantown Gap and a German Prisoner of War Camp in Reading.  He kept in touch with some of his sergeants after the war.

Lately I have heard several people say that the Liberty Tree is watered with the blood of Patriots.  When someone on the radio says this to his audience, you can bet he means their blood, not his.  My Dad was a Massachusetts Republican as long as I can remember and would still be one if he were alive now (He would be 104).  But he was a man who never backed down from a fight and had no use for "rabble rousers" the kind of people who start trouble and let others take the risks. 

I must have heard that story 50 times growing up.  I don't know why, but I did not think of that particular story until a few days ago, but it does help me understand why I dislike the current Patriot movement.  Talk Radio hosts by definition "lead" from the back, not from the front.  I just returned from serving in Iraq with an aviation task force in which all of the seniors officers including the commander flew missions--they led from the cockpit, not just from their desks.   

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I'm In the Final Five--Thanks to Friends and Kappa Alpha Theta

My daughter Lisa (far right, first standing row) is a freshman at the University of Richmond--Go Spiders!--and a member of Kappa Alpha Theta, Epsilon Psi Chapter.  This afternoon, I had ten nominations in the Milbloggie Award contest and was barely in third place.  At the close of voting tonight I had 30 nominations putting me solidly in 2nd place with voting beginning now.  Part of the reason I jumped so fast in the standings was Lisa asked her sisters in Theta to vote for her Dad's blog.  A dozen responded.

 Thank You to Kappa Alpha Theta, Epsilon Psi Chapter, University of Richmond.



My daughter Lauren (middle of middle row, black shirt) sent text messages to her soccer teammates at Juniata College and I got more votes.

Thanks to Juniata Women's Soccer.

Thanks also to Jack, Meredith, Akinoluna, Kristine, Brigitte, Sarah, David and everyone else who nominated me.

Now I need you to go back vote!  Winners announced Wednesday, prizes awarded at the Milblogging conference on Saturday of this week.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Milbloggie Update

Currently I am in third place in the nominations with 10.  The top two blogs have 39 and 22 nominations.  Fourth place is right behind me with 9 nominations, fifth place  has six.  Only the top five move to the final voting round.  If you have not nominated my blog, please help me out in a very close race.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Need a Job? These Folks Want to Help

I got this email today and thought the info worth passing on.  I am definitely one of the lucky people who returned to a job, but not everyone does.  If you need a job, check them out:

I am a follower of your blog and am working with the Call of Duty 
Endowment (CODE) to raise awareness about employment issues for 
veterans.  CODE is a non-profit organization that helps solders 
transition to civilian careers after their military service. It 
focuses its resources on assisting organizations that provide job 
placement and training to veterans, as well as engaging the media and 
public forums to raise awareness of the issue.

I encourage you to take a look at this video and explore CODE's  website for information about finding good jobs for our vets after 
they finish their military service:

Additionally, here is an article that came out a few weeks ago with 
some scary statistics about the current state of employment for 
veterans:


Although unemployment among veterans is a major problem, it is not 
front and center in the public debate.  We would be grateful if you 
considered blogging on the issues or linking your blog to the CODE 
video or articles pertaining to the subject.  If you would like me to 
provide you with more information, I would be happy to do so.

Please help us bring this issue into public conversation.  I look 
forward to hearing from you, either personally or through the 
blogosphere.


Best,

Emily
http://www.callofdutyendowment.org/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Call-Of-Duty-Endowment/199346440490?ref=ts

Thursday, April 1, 2010

MAKE ME FAMOUS

This post is a shameless plea for nominations for my blog in the military blog awards--The Milbloggies.  Nominations begin tonight and continue through April 3.  The blogs with the most nominations will be open for votes.  So if I am nominated, I will be posting again asking for votes.

To nominate my blog you have to register here.  The registration is just six lines and the nice people at milblogging.com promise you will not get SPAM from them.  Once you register, put my last name, Gussman, in the search bar on the upper left side of the page.  One search result will come up.  Click on the title of my blog, then when you get to the page, click the big green NOMINATE button.

If i get enough nominations, I am a finalist for a Milbloggie!!!

Nominations close Saturday.  Thanks in advance.