Saturday, October 31, 2009

Oh Canada: Sapper Steven Marshal gave all

Sapper Steven Marshall, 24, was killed while on foot patrol in Panjwai district in Kandahar province.

Sapper Steven Marshall(DND picture)

CEFCOM NR - 09.027 - October 30, 2009

OTTAWA – One Canadian soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his dismounted patrol approximately 10 km south-west of Kandahar City at approximately 4:30 p.m. Kandahar Time on 30 Oct 2009.

Sapper Steven Marshall

Sapper Steven Marshall

Killed in action was Sapper Steven Marshall, from the 1st Combat Engineering Regiment based in Edmonton, Alberta, serving as a member of the Task Force 3-09 Battle Group.

Sapper Marshall was conducting a foot patrol in the Panjwayi District when the incident happened. No other soldiers were injured in this incident.

We are all thinking of the family and friends of our fallen comrade during this sad time and our thoughts and prayers are with them. The commitment and sacrifice of our soldiers and their loved ones are helping to make a difference in the lives of the people of Kandahar Province. We will continue our mission as we remember the lives of our fallen soldiers.

Members of Task Force Afghanistan work with Afghan security forces for the greater good of Afghanistan. We remain focused and determined to bringing peace, stability and good governance despite the challenge imposed on us by the insurgents. We remain committed to Afghanistan. (DND here)

And from the CBC:

Sapper Steven Marshall, 24, from 11 Field Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, based in Edmonton, was patrolling 10 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City in the Panjwai district when the bomb exploded, Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance said.

No other Canadians were injured.

"Steven will be remembered as the life of his section. He had an incredible sense of humour and a contagious grin that never left his face even in the most difficult of times," Vance said.

"He would embrace every situation and always found and shared that silver lining with his mates."

Marshall joined the army a little over two years ago, Vance said. He was deployed with the 1st Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Battle Group.

"Having arrived in the theatre of operations less than a week ago, he was eager to get out and begin making a difference," Vance said. (here)

RIP, Sapper. I thank God that men such as you live. Prayers go out to this hero's family and all who love him.

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Our friend Snooper needs your help in getting to Washington November 4th:

OK Folks! I Need The Tip Jar Hit and Hit Hard!

On November 4th, I will be in DC with the Vets For Freedom. Like we did for the men and women in Iraq, we will do for the men and women in Afghanistan because the Hootis won't. I need airfare and I can sleep on a picnic bench seeing that all of the picnic benches in DC are registered with the powers that be. That's a long story but it is true.

Under the two videos in the left-hand sidebar, I have a tip jar that looks like this:

Help A DAV Out

Please make a donation seeing that I am on VA benefits and long-term disability which is in the process of changing over to the Social Security...QUICK before it goes broke.

Help me out here. I need approximately $800.


The Snooper Report. Join us as we Take Our Country Back.
Sic vis pacem para bellum
Fight Accordingly

Go here and do what you can. Thank you.

England's home grown muslims join the fight

Anybody who has been paying attention knows that England has major problems with British-born muslims who live by the code of killing non-muslims, 'infidels.'

From Foreign Policy comes this chilling reminder:
British Muslim Gangs and the “Chemical Jihad”
Mon, 10/26/2009 - 2:22pm

By Gretchen Peters

A Taliban fighter killed this spring by NATO troops in southern Afghanistan was found to have a tattoo from the Aston Villa Football Club, indicating he may have grown up in Britain's West Midlands. It was the latest evidence that British Muslims of South Asian origin have joined the fight in Afghanistan. (Read the full report here.)

For some time, Royal Air Force spy planes have picked up radio communication between Taliban fighters who speak with thick accents from Manchester, Birmingham, West Bromwich and Bradford, all cities with large populations of British Muslims of South Asian origin.

"But it was a shock to hear that the guys we were fighting against supported the same football clubs as us, and maybe even grew up on the same streets as us," the Telegraph newspaper quoted an unnamed British military official as saying.

Some law enforcement officials believe the British Taliban fighters may have links to criminal gangs in Britain whose members are Muslim and who have been connected to selling heroin on British streets. At least one other captured Taliban fighter was found to have British gang tattoos on his arms, according to a western law enforcement advisor to the U.S. military, and there is evidence that various British Muslim gangs have sent fighters to Afghanistan, or sell Afghan heroin on British streets. . ...

It seems that almost daily we read of home grown muslim fanatics - both in the UK and in north America - engaged in terrorist activities.

Is anyone connecting the dots, paying attention? The evidence IS in plain view.

Read the rest of this column here.

H/T The Thunder Run

The shape of things to come?

Monkey in the Middle asks that question, and relates an incident which demonstrates what most of us have been aware of for a while:

The Shape Of Things To Come?

I shouldn't be surprised or even outraged when I hear a report like this one:
Los Angeles police say two Jewish men in their 30s were shot in the legs as they were about to enter a synagogue in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles Thursday morning. A man described as an African-American with a handgun entered the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at about 6:20 a.m. Thursday and opened fire. The victims were taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime. The Los Angeles Times says police arrested a man near the synagogue, but the sources say they don't believe he was the gunman.

The newspaper adds that police officials have alerted other synagogues around Los Angeles about the shooting, and police have stepped up patrols at Jewish religious institutions. Detectives are trying to determine if the gunman acted alone or as part of a larger group.

According to the Associated Press, the wounded people had just pulled into the synagogue parking structure for morning services. Investigators said no words were exchanged between the shooter and his victims.

Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein called the event “grave and shocking.”

The attack “reminds us that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking and has no hesitation in terrorizing the Jewish people's holy of holies...."
Monkey in the Middle ends with this statement:

After all, it is acceptable now to kill the Jews. [emphasis mine]

There is more on this cowardly attack, and you can read it here. I emphasised the word 'now' because it seems to me it has always been acceptable to kill Jews. The daily evidence tells us that this will not change any time soon until - and unless - we all stand up and say "No more."

Friday, October 30, 2009


Iraqi Air Force officers graduate at RAF Cranwell

A Training and Adventure news article

26 Oct 09

Iraqi Air Force (IAF) officers Lieutenants Barzan Barzani and Arzhang Zebari received their IAF pilot 'wings' when they graduated from RAF Cranwell on Friday 23 October 2009.

Lieutenants Barzan Barzani (right) and Arzhang Zebari

Lieutenants Barzan Barzani (right) and Arzhang Zebari outside College Hall, RAF Cranwell
[Picture: Matt Reid, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

They were presented with their 'wings' by Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.

Their new qualification will pave the way for them to return to their homeland where the IAF will complete their training on a multi-engine conversion unit. They will then take to the air flying military transport aircraft such as the King Air 350 and the C-130 Hercules.

During the graduation ceremony Lt Zebari, who is the son of General Babaker Shawkat Zebari, Chief of Staff Iraqi Joint Forces, was presented with the Glen Trophy, awarded to the student pilot who gains the highest overall marks for flying.

He also received the Dacosta Trophy for best overall improvement during the course....

Tangible proof of 'our guys' training and helping the Iraqis take control of their own country. That IS what this is all about, isn't it? Read the rest of this B*N*S*N story here.


Staff Sgt. Freddie Figueroa, a Soldier in Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, fills out an envelope to mail his daughter a book and a recording of him reading at the USO at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Oct. 17. The United Through Reading program allows Soldiers to send their children books and DVDs of them reading it free of charge.

Bed time stories from half a world away

October 27th, 2009

One of the greatest times of any child’s day is bedtime. This is when they get to go to their bookshelf, grab their favorite (and sometimes longest) book, and spend quality time with mom and/or dad. But when a parent is deployed, this time is gone. Check out the guest blog post from Sgt. Ben Hutto, 3rd HBCT Public Affairs and learn how one program allows children and parents to get that special time back.

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Mercedes Figueroa has nighttime ritual every night before she goes to sleep at her home in Phenix City, Ala. Every night before she goes to sleep her father, Staff Sgt. Freddie Figueroa, reads her at least three books.

“She loves to be read to,” said Staff Sgt. Figueroa. “It’s something that is really special for both of us.”

Figueroa’s recent deployment to Iraq with the rest of his fellow Soldiers in Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment will delay story time for the next year, but a program offered by the USO at Camp Buehring will allow the father and daughter to stay connected.

The United Through Reading program allows deployed service members to record themselves reading a book to their children and then mails the recording and the book back home to the serviceman’s family for free.

“This is a great program and the books really become family heirlooms,” said Malcolm Marson, a duty manager at Camp Buehring’s USO. “I try to relax the Soldiers and tell them to imagine that they are in their living rooms with their family sitting there with them. You see some really hard boiled guys come here with scowls on their faces and leave with the biggest grins.”

The program focuses on giving Soldier’s families a visual interactive form of communication said Marson.

“It’s much more in-depth than a phone call because a child can see their parent and actually hold the same book their parent was holding,” he said. “They can replay that DVD as many times as they want to. It just doesn’t end when the phone hangs up.”

Soldiers from every battalion in the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team have taken advantage of the program. As their time at Camp Buehring begins to shorten and their movement to Iraq is set to begin, Soldiers are trying to get into multiple sessions to tide their children over until they can come home and read to them personally.

“I have five children and I’m trying to make sure they all have a book,” said Spc. Jeremy Bills, a Soldier in Company D, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. “I’m reading everything from Dr. Seuss to Harry Potter to make sure all my kids have a book. It means I’ll be up here at least five nights to get it in, but it is worth it.”

Both Figueroa’s and Bills’ wives are reading to their children in their husband’s absence.

“Hopefully, this can give her a break for a night,” said Bills. “I’m hoping to surprise her with these books coming in the mail. Having a large family with me away from home is tough, but anything I can do to help her is a big deal for me.”

Figueroa thinks by sending these books home, he is letting his wife and daughter know he is still thinking about them.

“Things like this help you take care of home,” he said. “If home is taken care of, you can focus on your mission. I know my wife and daughter know that I love them, but it never hurts to do something to let them know that you are still thinking about them.”...

The children also serve. Go read the rest of this great B*N*S*N story here.


2 RIFLES support wheat distribution in Sangin

A Military Operations news article

29 Oct 09

2nd Battalion The Rifles (2 RIFLES) are currently returning home from Afghanistan. One of their last missions in Helmand was to provide security for an Afghan Government-run shura to take place in the town of Sangin.

Afghans take part in local shura

Afghans take part in local shura, supported by British soldiers of 2 RIFLES
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

The aim of the shura was to allow Gulab Mangal, the Governor of Helmand province, to present the gift of wheat seed to over 2,000 farmers, as part of the Helmand Food Zone Programme.

Sangin is the key town in the fight against anti-government insurgents in the Upper Sangin Valley, which has seen vicious battles fought by mostly British ISAF troops, to dislodge the Taliban from the area.

2 RIFLES have been the lead element of Battle Group North in the Upper Sangin Valley for the last six months.

While in Sangin, Governor Mangal paid visits to the new school, District Governor's house and offices and an important new comprehensive health clinic to serve the people of Sangin. Mark Sedwill, the British Ambassador to Afghanistan, joined Governor Mangal's party....

Read more of this great B*N*S*N story here.


Staff Sgt. Cory Ginger, a member of Troop B, 106th Cavalry in Dixon, hugs his 8-year-old daughter after the two reunite during a homecoming ceremony in Marseilles, Ill., on Sept. 19, 2009. Ginger is one of nearly 3,000 Soldiers from the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd IBCT who deployed to Afghanistan as part of the largest overseas deployment of Illinois National Guard Soldiers since World War II. (Photo by Mike Chrisman, Illinois National Guard)

Illinois brigade finishes yearlong deployment

By Mike Chrisman
Illinois National Guard

SPRINGFIELD (10/28/09) - Tears of sadness turned to tears of joy as thousands of Illinois families hugged their loved one for the first time since their Soldier was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

After more than a year away from their friends and family, the Soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois Army National Guard are home. The overseas deployment of nearly 3,000 Guardsmen from 30 units across the state was the largest in state history since World War II.

The 33rd IBCT was mobilized during the summer 2008 as Task Force Phoenix VIII. Their primary mission was to train and mentor Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police forces. The Soldiers were mobilized to assist the emerging government of Afghanistan as the country struggles to recover from nearly 30 years of conflict.

The first group of Soldiers returned home on June 1 and the last welcome home ceremony was on Sept. 30. ...

You can read more of this story - my favourite kind of troop stories - here.


B*N*S*N Bonus picture

10/25/2009 - From left, U.S. Navy Capt. Chip Miller, the commanding officer of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), and former Presidents George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush watch an NFL game between the Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers Oct. 25, 2009, during Navy Week 2009 events in Houston, Texas. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Winn, U.S. Navy/Released)

Just because I like this picture of President George W. Bush..:)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

CPT Rob Yllescas: ..."the best Halloween costume ever..."

Those words in the header are from CPT Rob Yllescas' young daughter, Julia. Rob's wife Dena has a new entry up on the site that she has faithfully kept since her beloved husband Rob was mortally wounded one year ago:

One year since it all began...

October 28th. I wish this date was never on my calendar….I think I’ve decided that one year later is worse than when it actually happened. The reason I say this is because when I got the call, everything else was run on complete adrenaline. I thought moment to moment, hour to hour. I was praying for the best and hopelessly optimistic. I had no other choice. I KNEW Rob was going to be ok. He had to be. A year later, dreadfully anticipating this day and the next 34, I know the outcome and there is nothing I can do to change it. It’s a helpless feeling, making you feel sick. Two days ago, I was thinking “This was the last time Rob called home and I heard his voice.” For the life of me, I can’t remember what we talked about that day. I’m sure it was the “same old same old” but I just wish I could remember exactly the conversation. I wish I could have told him NOT to go out on the mission 2 days later. If we only knew…..Then all day yesterday, I kept counting down the hours until “doom day”. Today I’m going for a massage. I planned it for 11 am. It’s an hour massage. When I get done, it will be noon. The exact time I got the phone call. I figured, being relaxed will hopefully get me through that time. It’s crazy that even though that day was so hectic, I can still remember it so vividly. It’s so surreal. Even one year later, it’s hard to believe. As much as I didn’t want this to happen, God has a bigger plan. There was a purpose he gave Rob to me for the short amount of time he did. Although I may never know the complete reason, I have figured out a few things. Before I met Rob, there is no way I could have handled a situation like this the way I have. He taught me how to live independently and gave me the confidence in living life without him through his 3 deployments. He taught me to “suck it up and drive on”. He showed me that through hard work and determination, anything was possible. He made an impression on everyone he crossed paths with. He would fill a room up with his presence. And to this day, I still feel his presence. I have no doubt he is up in heaven, guiding me. The path I thought I would be taking with Rob took a major detour and now I’m taking the journey of life without him. However, through all the ups and downs, he’s been there. I’ve been blessed over and over even after this tragedy. ...

There is so much more in this entry. If you do not know this Captain, or his family, you really should take the time to read their whole site. I have written about them all before. Captain Yllescas, and his precious family Dena, Julia and Eva are one of the main reasons I do what I do. Yes, as I read her words, and come to know and love the Gold Star Families, it rips my heart out. It is a HUGE reminder of how much our families give in this Global War on Terror so other young wives, other young children, may live lives free from tyranny. The Gold Star Families always humble me by the grace with which they face every new day in their new realities of so many 'firsts.'

Go read the rest of this piece here. Dena gave me permission to share this with you. These families matter so much. They MUST be heard. They must be remembered and honoured.

Thank you Dena, Julia and Eva. My debt of gratitude to you all is without measure. We all stand for you.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh Canada: Some Gave All

Lt. Justin Garrett Boyes

Canadian soldier killed in Afghanistan

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 28, 2009 | 5:35 PM ET

One Canadian soldier was killed and two were injured Wednesday in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device.

Lt. Justin Garrett Boyes, 26, was killed when his foot patrol was hit by the blast, at about 9 a.m. local time, 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar City in Panjwayi district.

Boyes belonged to the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry based in Edmonton and was 10 days into his second deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed. At the time of his death, Boyes was mentoring an Afghan national police patrol.

Two other soldiers who were wounded in the incident were treated at the Kandahar Airfield medical facility and are in good condition.

Boyes is survived by his wife Alanna and son, James, 3, his parents Angela and David, a brother serving with the 2nd Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Shilo, Man., as well as a sister living in the U.K.

In Kandahar, Brig.-Gen. Jonathan Vance called Boyes "a dedicated family man" who spent every possible moment with his wife and son.

"Growing up in Saskatchewan, he was an easy-going Prairie boy who preferred sitting around the backyard with good friends, his family and a cold drink."

Boyes is the first Canadian solider to be killed in action in October. (source: CBC here)

And from the comments on that story:

I knew Justin, solid guy, this really sucks, those boys just got over there. Hope the rest of the tour goes better for my boys who just left. RIP LT Boyes...


Jay and I were on tour together in the same platoon about 5 years ago. He was always a nice guy to chat with, well-liked and respected by everyone. My condolences go out to his family and close friends.


RIP Lieutenant. And profound thanks and condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

And from CTV News:

Boyes was just 10 days into his deployment in Afghanistan.

"So early in the deployment, Justin's death is going to be difficult to accept by his brothers in arms, but will not deter any of us from continuing with our mission," Brig. Gen. Jonathan Vance, the commander of Task Force Kandahar, said.

Vance said Boyes was excited for a chance to train Afghan police and contribute to the "effort to provide stability to the population so we could, in concert with the Afghan government, extend basic services and humanitarian assistance to those in need."

Boyes recently joined the Princess Pats as a regular, after six years in the reserves.

Boyes grew up in Saskatchewan and leaves behind his wife, Alanna and three-year-old son, James....(here)

From the comments on this site:

LT. Justin Boyes may you rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this brave Canadian. Stand down brother your mission is done."They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them." [emphasis mine]

Amen. Rest in peace, sir. Prayers for his family and all who love Lt. Boyes.

Wednesday Hero

Spc. Justin Slagle
Spc. Justin Slagle
U.S. Army

Spc. Justin Slagle returns to Forward Operating Base Lane in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter after an air assault mission in the Zabul province of Afghanistan, Oct. 15, 2009. Even as leaders in Washington struggle with the next steps in Afghanistan, troops there are moving to better protect the Afghan people by separating them from Taliban influence and intimidation.

Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your site, you can go here.
Wednesday Hero Logo

Monday, October 26, 2009

Project Valour IT: Go! Team Army!

Mail Call! Supporting the Troops has a great post up about Valour-IT:

Today is the kick-off for the fundraiser for Soldiers Angels Project Valour IT

The Valour-IT Veterans Day Fundraising "Competition" was a developed as a fun way to raise money for a very serious project. Teams are purely for the sake of friendly competition, building on the natural inter-service rivalries of the U.S. Military.

Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries. Technology supplied includes:

Voice-controlled Laptops - Operated by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, they allow the wounded to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.

Wii Video Game Systems - Whole-body game systems increase motivation and speed recovery when used under the guidance of physical therapists in therapy sessions (donated only to medical facilities).

Personal GPS - Handheld GPS devices build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

This blog (of course:) is registered for the competition with 'Team Army', which is headed by Blackfive (read more at Mail Call!... here)

And over at BlackFive, team leader for Team Army, there are a couple of posts which give you background on Valour-IT, and a list of who is in the Army team....Check B5 out here.

Fine looking list of bloggers for Team Army, if I do say so myself.

Gooooooooooo ARMY!


From Delta Bravo Sierra (You DO read them every day, don't you? )

October 26th, 2009


This is it boys and girls. The day you’ve been waiting for! This marks the first day Team Army under the auspicious leadership of Blackfive (of kicks everyone else’s booty in our friendly competition to raise money for Project Valour-IT. Although, what I’m seeing … Team Army is not off to a good start as of 0600. I guess we’re all out doing PT while the others are sipping lattes. When you Army dudes get back, shower, and are done at the DFAC how ’bout you hop over to yon donate button and lets start this fund raiser with a bang!

Seriously- Project Valour-IT is something I believe very deeply in but heaven forbid either of my sons have to use it. God protect all our soldiers from having to use it. However, if they do need it… it should be fully funded and prepared. Help Soldiers Angels help our troops. Thank you. God bless.

More from me later. Goooooooooo Army!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Valour-IT is underway tomorrow!

More to follow. Stay tuned!


Every Day Hero

Meet First Lieutenant Travis Manion:

First Lieutenant Travis L. Manion

Travis Manion

Many believe that leadership is an innate quality rather than something learned. If this is a valid belief then First Lieutenant Travis L. Manion was certainly born a leader. Manion began his military career early as a student at the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy where he excelled academically.

Upon graduating from the academy in 2004, Manion chose to become a Marine Corps officer. Demonstrating his intellect and leadership abilities, this servicemember was commissioned and assigned to the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force Camp in Pendleton, CA. Shortly thereafter, he was deployed to Iraq for his first tour of duty in 2005.

Manion and his unit were part of many critical events including support of the election, discovery of weapons caches throughout the region and numerous other Iraqi transition missions.

In September 2006, he was selected as an experienced Iraq veteran and was pulled from 1st Recon to become a part of a military transition team that would train with 10 other Marines that would be attached to an Iraqi Army Battalion in Fallujah.

Staying true to his commitment to public service, Manion geared up on December 26, 2006, for his second tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as the company advisor for the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division Military Transition Team, Regimental Combat Team 6, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Manion and his fellow Marines labored diligently to change the outcome in Fallujah, building a brotherhood with the Iraqi Army units and setting the example with strong leadership.

He and his fellow Marines aggressively took the battle to the enemy on multiple missions while mentoring their Iraqi counterparts. On March 19, 2007, his vehicle was attacked by an improvised explosive device. Though disoriented from the attack, Manion checked for secondary devices, and then led the pursuit to the triggerman. Once identified, he personally apprehended the suspect. On March 27, 2007, he exposed himself to enemy small arms fire on multiple occasions in order to physically position and direct the return fires of his Iraqi soldiers during a complex enemy attack. On March 28, he immediately responded to a suicide vehicle-borne IED attack on the Iraqi Barracks at the Fallujah Government Center. Despite ongoing enemy small arms fire, indirect fire, two suicide vest attacks, a second suicide-vehicle-borne IED, and the heavy presence of chlorine gas, he repeatedly endangered himself by entering the damage barracks to remove casualties, and then by positioning and directing the fires of Iraqi soldiers on the rooftop of the Government Center.

Manion and his fellow Marines fought courageously to change the tide in this critical battle ground. As a result of their efforts, Al Anbar Province is now recognized as one of the more significant successes of the surge in Iraq.

On April 29, 2007 during his final patrol mission, Manion made the ultimate sacrifice.

His patrol was concluding a search of a suspected insurgent house when it came under precision small arms fire attack. With the corpsman seriously wounded by enemy fire and the attack developing in to a full-scale ambush, Manion and a fellow Marine exposed themselves to increasing fire to pull the corpsman out of the kill zone.

After recovering the corpsman and administering first aid, Manion led his patrol in a counter attack personally eliminating an enemy position. As he continued to direct the patrol, another Marine was wounded. He again moved across the kill zone, under fire by five insurgents, to recover the wounded Marine. Iraqi Army reinforcements were halted by an IED and were unable to advance on the flank of the insurgents, leaving Manion and his patrol to take fire from three sides.

While fearlessly exposing himself to gain a more advantageous firing position and drawing enemy fire away from the wounded Marines, Manion was fatally wounded by an enemy sniper.

His courageous and deliberate actions inspired the eventual counter attack and ultimately saved the lives of every member of his patrol, according to his medal citation.

“He wouldn’t put anyone in a situation he would not be in himself first,” said David Borek, his brother-in-law and close friend.

Manion was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Silver Star for his heroic actions in Iraq.

As a true testament to how much Manion was admired, the Iraqis named their new headquarters Combat Outpost Manion in honor of him.

Keeping the spirit of his selfless nature alive, The Travis Manion Foundation was created and continues his mission to assist the families of Fallen Heroes and wounded veterans, according to Janet Manion, his mother and executive director of the foundation.

“He was a kid with a big heart, never had a bad word for anyone,” said Tom Manion, his father. “He was all heart; that is who he was.”

Excerpts from articles by Gary Weckselblatt, Bucks County Courier Times, Nov. 29, 2008; by Kenneth Harbaugh with; and The North Shore Journal (here)

Semper Fi, Sir!

Music and Me

Traveling Wilburys - Heading For The Light

Always singing - and heading for the light!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Christians Persecuted in England: Wake UP, America!

If I had not seen this video with my own eyes, I would not have believed that things have gone this far in England. Anyone who is awake, KNOWS that the English way of life is under attack. England IS a Christian nation, yet it seems that freedom to discuss one's faith - only if you are a Christian, of course - is now a criminal offence.


What on earth? Pay careful attention, America. This IS coming to a neighbourhood near you.

God help us all.

H/T Vic...

Afghanistan War, President Obama, Gates, troops

What is it going to take, Mr Obama? More voices clamouring for the POTUS to make a decision NOW!

The blurb beneath this video: On 29 August 2009, General McChrystal, commander in Afghanistan, said to President Obama, "if we don't get more troops on the ground, we risk failure." As of 22 October 2009, the President still has not made a decision. ...

I found the above on FaceBook via CJ...who says:

"GREAT, in-your-face video from Military Moms of America! This video
needs to be seen by every member of Congress and the President himself!"

And my friend Lynnis - proud patriotic American grandmother - adds her two cents' worth (okay, a dime's worth.) She gave me permission to reprint her comments here:

I concur!!

Mr. President,
You HAVE to stop your antics of "I'm president and can do anything I want".
Your inaction has extended well beyond a reasonable time line. You have debated with those whose opinions mesh with yours, and with those who disagree. You have sent envoys to Afghanistan to verify the request of a General that YOU put into place. You have been given enough evidence that time is of the essence. Please do not let any more of our men die as they wait for YOU, their C in C to give the go ahead or give a denial. A decision must be made. How many more war commanders do you need to tell you that this is important? ...

When, I ask, are you going to get off your high horse and make a decision?

Sir, WE, the American people who you swore to serve and protect are WAITING!! Do not let America become a country that is seen as being weak. WE ARE NOT. Nor will we be.

Our Military Men and Women are waiting, as well as their families, are waiting. The whole world is waiting... MAKE THIS DECISION NOW!!

Again, Mr Obama: WHAT is it going to take?


With all the 'opinions' going around about what must be done Afghanistan, very little historical context has been given. I am not a historian, nor a military expert, but seems commonsense to me that no outside force can succeed in a place like Afghanistan without an understanding of the centuries old underpinnings of the region.

Came across this very informative piece, and it IS a must read:

USA and USMC Counterinsurgency Center Blog


President Obama is on the verge of making a policy decision on the future strategy of the COIN fight in Afghanistan. Before looking at a possible strategy, I think we should take a hard look at Afghanistan and sacrifice a sacred cow that we all took as gospel.

Afghanistan has been called the “graveyard of empires.” That is some impressive IO phrase. It makes us fear failure in Afghanistan because it foreshadows the collapse of the whole western world -- not just Afghanistan. As scary as that prospect is, this specter is a figment of our imagination.

I think what is never mentioned is that the greatest empire that went to grave was the Afghan Empire itself. The British themselves smashed the Afghan Empire when, in 1837, it formed an alliance with the Sikhs in order to prevent the Afghans from retaking its former empire which went to Peshawar and Quetta. Thanks to the British, the sun would permanently set on the Afghan Empire, never to rise again.

Yes it is true that the British did have some setbacks in Afghanistan, but I think we need to examine the motives of the British with regards to Afghanistan. Afghanistan was in fact, nothing more than a buffer between its “jewel” India and the Russian Empire. It never intended to colonize or control Afghanistan. Dividing the Pashtuns along an artificial border represented a classic strategy to ensure that not only would the Afghan empire remain smashed but would also facilitate a cross border insurgency to prevent a Russian expansion south of the Hindu Kush. It worked superbly in the 1980’s.

The Afghans celebrate 1919 as its Independence Day, but it is independence from what? There were no British troops on Afghan soil in 1919. The real story is that Aminullah thought that he could take advantage of unrest in India and British post-war fatigue to retake the former Afghan territory in what is now Pakistan. He launched a three pronged attack into British territory through Khyber, Quetta and Kurrum. His attack was stopped dead by the British. What’s more, Kabul and Jalalabad were bombed by no less than Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, future commander of the RAF’s Bomber Command in WW II. The Afghans quickly sued for peace. The British, being practical, realized that with Russia in turmoil as a result of the Bolshevik Revolution it was no longer a threat. Therefore, interference in Afghanistan was no longer worth the effort. So with the treaty of Rawalpindi, Afghanistan was given control over its foreign affairs. The British also stopped supporting the Afghan Government financially. In this instance, Afghanistan does not seem to have broken another invading empire, but merely lost its usefulness because of a change in the geostrategic situation. ...

Take the time to read the whole thing here. Then think about what you have read.

H/T The Thunder Run

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rick Hillier memoirs released

I have often written about Lt. General Rick Hillier. Until he resigned last year, he was Canada's Chief of Defence, Canada's top soldier. It is no secret that I have long been a HUGE fan of General Hillier, and I did name him My Hero of the Year a couple of years back on Tanker Bros here. I have written about him a few times, and you can find a couple of those columns here, here.

Today, comes this:

Former top soldier launches memoir in St. John's

Former general Rick Hillier spoke in St. John's Thursday night at the launch of his book tour.
Former general Rick Hillier spoke in
St. John's Thursday night at the
launch of his book tour.

Former general Rick Hillier told an audience in St. John's Thursday night that the federal bureaucracy is hampering Canada's fighting soldiers.

Hillier, who was chief of the defence staff of the Canadian Forces between 2005 and 2008, spoke to a crowd of more than 100 people, as part of the book launch for his memoir.

He writes in his book A Soldier First that he felt at times as if he were fighting a bureaucratic war with Ottawa more than fighting a war in Kandahar.

Hillier told reporters after the launch that the country often fails to deliver vital equipment to the soldiers who need it.

"We need some changes in the bureaucracy in Ottawa," he said. "We need to be able to deliver what men and women in uniform need to do what we as a nation asked them to do, in a way that sets them up for success and reduces the risk to them, all at the same time."

Hillier said when a need for military equipment is identified, government should act fast.

"They need them quickly when they're identified, and they need them delivered and put in service so they can actually use them, and it shouldn't take years, it should be weeks or a few months."

Hillier said staff inside the Prime Minister's Office often tried to muzzle him. But Hillier said that he felt he had to speak out then and now, on behalf of soldiers risking their lives...(CBC online here, and be sure to read the comments.)

You KNOW I'll be reading this..


10/19/2009 - U.S. Soldiers conduct a dismounted patrol in a village near Forward Operating Base Blessing, Afghanistan, Oct. 19, 2009. The Soldiers are assigned to Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colo. (DoD photo by Sgt. Jennifer Cohen, U.S. Army/Released)


Army cyclists get on their bikes in Helmand

A People In Defence news article

21 Oct 09

Two Army cyclists are discovering the hard way that it's a long way from Land's End to John O'Groats, especially if you go via Afghanistan.

Captain Rachel Thompson

Captain Rachel Thompson is taking part in a sponsored exercise bike ride in Helmand
[Picture: Sgt Rob Knight, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

From their base in Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, Captain Rachel Thompson and Staff Sergeant Al Clark are raising money for injured soldiers' charity 'Toe in the Water' by cycling 1,407km on exercise bikes over the next 19 days.

And back home in the UK, Sergeant Andrew Jordon-White, serving with a Signal Squadron in Aldershot, and his brother Joe will be cycling the actual route while Capt Thompson and SSgt Clark complete it on cycling machines in the UK headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

The team in Helmand has begun their challenge, which will see them waking up at 0530hrs every day for 19 days and cycling over 74km per day, while they continue their operational duties in the area.

This is the second time Capt Thompson has served in Afghanistan having joined the Army in 2002. The previous time was in 2007-2008 when she was working with electronic countermeasures for force protection. She has also completed a tour in Iraq...

This is a very interesting story, which you can find the rest of, here.


Kids get to know their Iraqi Security Forces

Thursday, 22 October 2009 By Pfc. Justin Naylor
1st Cavalry Division

KIRKUK — "I like to see them in my village, they make me feel safe," said Huda Akhmed Hussan, a 13-year-old sixth-grader here, about the Iraqi Army Soldiers he sees every day.

In addition safeguarding residents, the 12th IA Soldiers here are also trying to build trust and respect with the villagers they work so hard to protect.

This was one primary focus behind the “Junior Hero Program” in Arab Koy, Oct. 20, when IA Soldiers distributed backpacks and school supplies provided by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

"The Junior Hero Program helps introduce them [children] to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police; it gives them a positive image of them at a young age," said Cpl. Adam DeArmitt, a Bellwood, Pa., native attached to the 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT.

This helps the children not see members of the Iraqi Security Forces as just another guy with a gun, but as someone who is here to help them, he explained.

"They are doing very well," said Huda about the IA. "I have two brothers in the IA, and I am very proud of them."

Although the distribution of the backpacks was handled by the IA, U.S. Soldiers were there as well.

"I think it is good for the kids to see us working together," said Thaer Abdu Saheb, a junior IA Soldier. "For many of the kids, this was the first time seeing the IA together with the Americans."

According to Saheb, programs like this help improve the relationship between the IA and local communities, and encourage the children to follow the positive example set by the ISF.

"I think they will see this as a good thing and maybe one day want to join the IA, or even go further and become an engineer or a doctor," he said.

During the event, the children took a pledge to be loyal to their families and country; be obedient to their parents and treat them with respect; treat teachers and people in their community with respect; honor the Iraqi Soldiers and Iraqi Policemen and report crimes to them; and to be a Junior Hero of Iraq. (MNF-Iraq here)


General in Iraq ‘Encouraged’ as Elections Approach

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2009 – Violence in Iraq has dropped to the lowest levels seen since 2003 as the Iraqi people prepare to vote in new legislative and general elections slated for January, a senior U.S. military officer said here today.

“I’m encouraged now that violence is at an all-time low; that the levels are down to where they were in 2003,” Army Brig. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, Multinational Force Iraq’s deputy chief of staff for strategic effects, told reporters during a news briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center.

The reduced violence in Iraq today, Lanza said, indicates “continued improvement in Iraq's security environment, through the combined efforts of Iraq and U.S. forces.”

The 120,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq “continue to push hard,” Lanza said, following the June 30 implementation of a U.S.-Iraq security agreement through which Iraqi security forces took primary responsibility for security within the country’s cites.

U.S. combat forces today are conducting partnered, full-spectrum operations outside Iraqi cities and also along the borders, Lanza said, to deny extremists safe havens and reduce the foreign flow of lethal aid, and specifically foreign fighters, into Iraq.

“Our combined focus today remains on securing the Iraqi population and enabling Iraq to continue to move forward,” Lanza said.

The success of a two-day U.S.-Iraq business and investment conference that drew 1,500 people and concluded here yesterday reflects the greatly improved security in Iraq, Lanza said, as well as the Iraqi people’s eagerness and desire to move forward.

“What you have right now is Iraqis are truly embracing the rule of law,” Lanza said. “And I think what we’ve talked about here in the last couple of days at this economic conference was a reassurance to U.S. businessmen that Iraq is a country that is administered by the rule of law and a law that supports the constitution.”

There is more of this great story at Defenselink here...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ethiopia today: Tears are STILL not enough

Lasting legacy of Ethiopia's famine

Mesele Adhena, centre, and his family at home in Korem
We did not work night and day before, but we do now.
Mesele Adhena, famine survivor

By Mike Woolridge
BBC world affairs correspondent, Ethiopia

It is now well over two decades since Mesele Adhena gave up all hope of being able to remain in his village of Bezeta, and came to this market town in the highlands of northern Ethiopia.

"Had we stayed," he says, "we would all have died."

As it was, three of his close relatives died in the famine of 1984, that had its epicentre in this region and at the time made the northern Ethiopian town of Korem a byword for starvation on an epic scale.

I was a member of the BBC team that eventually reached here and the town of Mekelle, that resides further north, in October 1984.

Ethiopia asks for urgent food aid

It was a time when the then government had denied journalists access in an attempt to keep the rapidly worsening impact of the famine hidden from their own people - and from the rest of the world.

Tens of thousands of people had already trekked to these government-held towns - that was in the midst of the protracted conflict with Tigrayan and Eritrean rebels - and many more were to follow....(BBC here)

Ethiopia map
(BBC here)

And yet, today I come across this headline:

Ethiopia demands urgent food for millions of starving people

A boy drinks water from a pond in Bule Duba village
in the outskirts of Moyale, in Ethiopia / Reuters / No Source

By correspondents in Addis Ababa

October 22, 2009 11:29pm

  • Six million facing starvation
  • 1 million died in famine 25 years ago
  • Country needs 159,000 tonnes of food

  • TWENTY-five years after Ethiopia's famine killed a million people and spurred a massive global aid effort, the government has appealed for help for more than six million facing starvation.

State Minister for Agriculture Mitiku Kassa said the country needed 159,000 tonnes of food aid worth $121 million between now and year's end for 6.2 million people.

He said nearly 80,000 children under five were suffering from acute malnutrition and that $US9 million ($9.68 million) was required for moderately malnourished children and women.

"Since... January, the country continues to face several humanitarian challenges in food and livelihood security, health, nutrition, and in water and sanitation," Mr Mitiku told donors.

In a report to mark the 25th anniversary since the famine, Oxfam called for a change of strategy towards the human suffering in Ethiopia, Africa's second most populous country after Nigeria.

It urged donors to focus on helping communities devise ways of preparing and dealing with disasters such as building dams to collect rain water to be used during dry seasons rather that sending emergency relief.

The long-term strategies receive less than one per cent of international aid, Oxfam said. [emphasis mine]

"Sending food aid does save lives, the dominance of this approach fails to offer long-term solutions which would break these cyclical and chronic crises," stated the report: Band Aids and Beyond. ...(here)

Here we are a generation on from the Band-Aid concerts that saw huge hearted donors from around the world respond to the terrible pictures of starving children, and yet, here we are again with Ethiopia demanding help. What is wrong with this picture?

Sam Kiley has a few thoughts on this topic:

October 23, 2009

Do starving Africans a favour. Don’t feed them

There is famine in Kenya and Ethiopia again. Sending food and emergency relief will make things worse in the long term

The Horn of Africa is in the grip of the worst drought for 47 years! Some 23 million people are threatened with starvation! When you see children on TV with distended bellies keening over their dying parents, it would be inhuman not to be moved to tears. But do them a favour. Sit on your hands.

The situation is ghastly to be sure. But, as Christmas approaches, the most intelligent response to this latest disaster is to quote Ebenezer Scrooge and cry “bah, humbug”.

African aid organisations have been in the grip of an hysterical number inflation game since the hideous images of the Ethiopian famine were brought to our screens 25 years ago today by the BBC’s Michael Buerk. For every year that has passed the scale of Africa’s problems seem to have grown...

There is a drought. Just as there is every ten years. This is the worst in a generation. But even if 23 million people do face starvation, please don’t reach for your cheque book. Foreign aid is the principal reason for Africa’s accumulated agony....

So, what to do? For an answer I turn to Birham Woldu, who survived the (man-made) 1984 famine in Ethiopia.

“Constantly shipping food from places like the US is costly, uneconomic, and can encourage dependency,” she writes in the Oxfam report. “We are a big country and when there is famine in one part of the country, there is plenty in another. So we need better infrastructure and communications to move food around to where it is needed. Above all we need education.”

If they want to badly enough, the Ethiopians can sort out their own roads. So that leaves education....

With education Africans can and will rid themselves of the incompetent and corrupt leaders that we have kept in power through foreign aid for decades. Educated Africans will bring an end to a dangerous cycle of humbug.

Sam Kiley is a former Africa bureau chief of The Times (read the rest here)

There is a saying that goes something like: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he can feed his family forever. Seems to me, if we really mean to help countries like Ethiopia towards self-sustainability, we need to harness all our expertise, and their own resources, so they can feed themselves forever.

First with the head, then with the heart.

America, wake UP!: "...Words cannot save us now..."

I am so tired of this treadmill !

For years now I have seen the same people doing the same thing over and over, talk talk talk.. Nothing more than a lot of words on paper. I feel like I am on a treadmill like a hamster in a wheel. Going round and round, no matter what we do or plan people are either too scared, lazy or stupid to realize our time is nearing the end.

The end of this country we all claim to love and respect, vow to protect and defend, well folks it is time to stop with the words and start with some activity. Anything would be better than what we have now. Just forget your possessions, your money, your job, everything. None of these things are permanent especially now.. How long do you think you will be warm and cozy in your little computer room banging out all of those patriotic posts, forwarding all those inane messages to people who simply delete most of them anyway if the Government is allowed to continue on in the way it is now?

Daily we get news of new laws and bills which take us farther and farther down the pit to slavery, poverty and absolute death to most of us.

Can you not see?

If you do see what are you doing to prepare for it? What are you actually doing other than posting on the groups and blogs just passing along more words. Words cannot save us now.

Where are all those militant groups that hated everyone? Where are the militia, where are the National Guardsmen who are supposed to be in our states protecting us from destruction both from the outside and inside? Who will fire the Shot heard round the world this time? Our military is under the control of the UN and the globalists. You don't think so? Bet on it. The fellows that will not obey the orders against the American people are sent overseas, accidentally killed, commit suicide, become ill, they are not allowed to continue to be a threat to the Global Overlords. Look at the military in your area, how many white, American clean shaven faces do you see? How did illegal aliens become members of our military, learning all we can teach about warfare, survival and obedience? Our Military is contaminated and corrupt as our Government is.

There is no unity among the American people, we have been brainwashed into Political Correctness and have no sense of pride in what we are any longer. We are not the proud American Steel Worker, Bridge builder, Construction worker, Mechanic, Farmer, Rancher that we were in the past. We are all under the thumb of the government through either the social services, who control our children with the power they have been given, by us, not the government or the government with the programs they offer and we gladly accept as it is free.

Everyone is regulated in one way or another. We have so many data bases we are all on it instills fear and dread if we think about going outside the line. We have social security numbers, drivers license numbers, credit card numbers, permits to drive, work, live.

With the Cap and Trade bill and Clean Water Acts, we are no longer even in control of our food and water. How much are the American people going to take? Now there is talk of turning our sovereignty over to the world...

There is much more here.

Food for thought.

H/T Dean