Saturday, February 03, 2007

Photo of the Day



She didn’t feel lost at all as she climbed off the plane at Dulles International. True enough, the new soldier had no clue where she was headed, not really, but surely cabdrivers were good for that sort of thing around here. She’d ask him, she decided as she helped him load her duffle bags and suitcases into his trunk.

In the cab, PV2 Austin retrieved her orders from a brown leather briefcase; a left-over from Ft. Gordon. She knew enough now to keep her orders near. They were like her skin. That close. Dog tags swung cold against her torso when she leaned over to heave the last bag; the rattle of chain against tags within her sweater reassured her somehow. She belonged to Uncle Sam and they were her wedding ring of sorts. She’d find her unit or they’d find her. She smiled at the thought and spread out her paperwork and its seemingly lack of information before the cabbie. Not one thought did she give to the possibility of him robbing, raping or murdering her. She was small town. Everyone was her friend.

There’s an old acronym in the Army. KISS. Keep it simple stupid. Instead of simply keeping things simple and driving straight up to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research like the papers said, the cabbie and Austin, many miles and forty dollars later, decided Ft. Myer would be the place for a 76 Victor Materiel and Storage Handling Specialist forced to drive a forklift of cammie-sized proportions and drop 55 gallon drums of oil all over the place should be dropped off to start work early the next morning. These are all the things she thought, and no doubt, felt the freedom to share with the driver. By the time they arrived at Ft. Myer, home of the Old Guard, the cab driver was well rehearsed in her military plights and perhaps even cared for her a bit as the staff on duty told him no, this isn’t where she should be, but it was late, and they’d get the good soldier to her duty station, one way or another.

It really makes little difference as to if someone from WRAIR came for her or another someone from Ft. Myer transported her to the first day of the rest of her life; for what matters is, is that Private Austin was of the opinion she’d at long last awakened from an unhealthy nightmare into a military dream, one which vaguely reminded her of the dreams she’d dreamt before basic training. It was if she’d been reborn into a new time, a new home. Banquets of color spilled from every tree, bush and hill. Soldiers in uniform and white lab coats passed by sharp, quick, saluted officers of every rank and size. It was a busy place. Full of mysterious old rooms and annexes, leaky ceilings, ghosts of diseases past with all their creaks and formaldehyde odors; these sensors mildewed the hurdles of the past into the present hope of the future. Full of mission. People into their own thing.

The First Sergeant, an old infantry type who made it no secret of his despair with the “culture” of WRAIR gave Austin three weeks to vacate the barracks since she was legally married and drew the additional funds of BAQ.

“But First Sergeant, I send that money to my son,” she had said.

“The Army doesn’t care what you do with it. They just care that you draw it. Three weeks,” was his reply.

It wasn’t so much that she was savvy enough to know the good deal she’d been dealt, but she too sensed the culture of this medical component of the Army, but unlike the Infantryman, she was not displeased with it, she was near ecstasy. Already, it was home.

The new search was nothing short of a thrill for her, another adventure, to find a place to live, and despite the fact she really liked her very own barracks room, complete with private bath, there in Abrams Hall right across from work, she simply got busy hunting for an apartment, a room, anything. She read the ads from Stars and Stripes and strolled down 16th Street alone. Maybe there were vacant apartments on that street, she'd thought.


As the angels of protection would have it, Austin found a peach of a place in Silver Spring, Maryland, without once being raped, murdered or in any way accosted on the subway she delighted in riding.

FEMALE ON THE FLOOR! Featured Photos, of course!

PFC Austin at her desk with GS-13 from Bangkok, 1989
WRAIR front and back view. AFIP is located directly out the back door.
Fall 1988
PFC Austin on the balcony of her apartment. We lived four stories up.
Winter 1988


Austin landed the only 76 Victor slot at WRAIR. Most supply jobs there were of course, medical supply. She wouldn’t be driving forklifts, no; her job in Overseas Support Branch was to build crates used for packing and shipping. A bit startled for a moment when she learned of the work, she quickly recovered and remembered they’d briefly built a small crate at Ft. Lee. Oh well, she’d learn to use a hammer.

Nothing deterred her. Not when she missed her stop the first time on the military shuttle taking her to buy an alarm clock at the PX (What? No hall guards or fire guards to shout the time?) And neither the second ride, when she forgot her purse at the bus stop. Nothing to blame it on but habit and fascination. She hadn’t carried a handbag in months and the purple and orange leaves wouldn’t let her eyes rest as she rode on the bus.

She wanted to see everything, she told her roommate three weeks later. “I want to see everything in this city. Even the crack houses.”

How worldly and confident she felt. She’d already visited the Smithsonian and the Vietnam Memorial, The Wall. She buzzed with enthusiasm in the hallways and in the office. She didn’t build crates at first since the retired Lieutenant Colonel trusted her with little more than pulling staples from the mess of shipping documents he handed her that first day. Once she neatly pulled the staples from the papers, she was then entrusted with the stapler to re-staple the documents. Not before.

Lt. Col. Evans (R), now what a man he was. OSB had been his baby for years. He wasn’t about to give it up or entrust much of it to anyone, even though he was finally forced to in the end.

Austin was promoted to Private First Class within a short time. More and more she was allowed to step into Mr. Evans' world. She checked the status of shipments with Transportation, became friends with the NCO from Andrews Air Force Base via the many phone conversations. She earned the responsibility of shipping and receiving wet and dry ice shipments: they were alive with precious germs and required “top priority” protection. The germs flew in from Bangkok and Malaysia. Medical supplies and equipment flew to Korea; books on the psyche of the soldier were shipped to Germany. She found the best deals for the Army's money or time, whichever was the most precious for a particular shipment at the time, then sent the procurement paperwork to Ft. Detrick, received pipettes and centrifuges when they arrived, then packed it up to go out again in the crate she’d helped Mr. Evans to build.

Duty consisted of flag detail twice a year and Assistant Charge of Quarters maybe four times a year. PT was “on your own” which she faithfully did daily, running through shopping centers, over the hilly grounds of WRAIR, WRAMC, and Rock Creek Park. Shortly after arriving, she’d learned that unless it was considered mission essential to qualify with the weapon, there’d be no such thing, and fortunately for her, a crate builder was not considered that essential. The world of weapons and drill was long gone for her, or just nearly, for she still had eight months of training she wouldn’t soon forget. It was hard for her to quit with the facing movements when she turned down a hallway, column left or right, and she always stood and went to a sharp 'Parade-Rest' when her NCO walked into her office, until finally, the spent sergeant said, “Chill, Austin, you’re out of training. You make me nervous with all that!”

Chow was at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They had banned saluting around the hospital area. It was hard to get anywhere or much done otherwise because of all the officers. And at WRAIR, half the work force was civilian, so formations were out, lab experiments, white coats and badges, in.

Austin’s quarters were much to her liking as well. Her roommate, a twenty-one year old male soldier, worked at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, right across the street from WRAIR. How handy! His roommate was moving out, and the roommate had had the master bedroom, complete with its own full bath. Since she was also buying the small Sears-water-in-some-tubes-type-mattress left behind in the bedroom, they’d just make this room hers.


Specialist Ricardo Alessio from Akron, Ohio gave her the master bedroom as well as a ride to work. He was young and fresh, a little lazy as work goes, but in his own apartment for the first time. Rick shopped and controlled his kitchen. Half-Spanish, he loved to cook and serve with elaboration.

In the evenings, Austin would sit up at the kitchen table while smoke billowed from one of her endless cigarettes; a cold glass of Lipton iced tea, strong and with the ice added first not last rested near her right hand. As she raised the wet glass from the table and to her mouth, she noticed a small ring of sweat on the table top, a cheap wood replica, an apartment-pretty-dinette. Laying her cigarette down in the stoneware ashtray, her favorite ashtray now that she could claim them as her own once again, she took her left hand and wiped the table dry and stared into her glass. She liked her tea really strong. If she could see through the tea, it was too weak, and perhaps she mentally graded its color when her thoughts were interrupted. Rick had arranged the cans of tomatoes or corn thus such and so in his cabinets. He looked as if he reflected heavily on the perfect rows and he asked her, “Do you want eggs and sauce tonight?”

Groovy, she thought as she dragged deeply on a fresh cigarette. She looked toward him only a second. “I’m sure that’d be just grand,” was all she said, her eyes preoccupied once again with the wet glass, her thoughts captured and floated upon foam some people said was the color of snuff.

Virgie Bell's View: Snits and Knicks

Well good morning from Brian Urlacher country. It is really amazing what a celebrity status can do for the small town where I reside. I will say one thing though ... it does not cause the Albuquerque paper to get delivered. Snit is on in my life and big time.

Here in number 54 country, we are constantly being snowed in. I will tell you the truth, I am mighty sick of it. I need to be outside checking out if God is checking in with the little buds on the trees and other things that interest me about the Almighty's attention to detail. I find it so reassuring that all of the stuff returns to its original state. My pecan tree will not put on even one apricot and you won’t find one pecan on the little apricot tree. As for global warming, I will just leave that up to the Main Man. He seems to do pretty well taking care of stuff like that.

My children now have new cars. Yes sir, every last one of them. I now feel left out completely. I look for my house to be surrounded by crime scene tape and declared not worthy of number 54 country. My children drive by to rub it in that Mom and Jerry are out of step in the wonders of the new and exciting possessions. I came into this world not being quite up to others in that regard, but to be honest it is a little galling that my own offspring are among those that owns all the goodies and I am left to only dream of such. That is life it seems.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, I think Jerry will have to work on that day, but I will more or less watch it. I will for sure be among those who watch the half-time activity. I only hope it does not feature in any way one of the Jackson's. I am just tired of all of their rigmarole. It was mentioned on the net that a picture had finally been taken of Michael Jackson's children and they look nothing like Michael Jackson as if anyone really knows what he would look like. I will forgo forever the quick peek at Sister Jackson's breast flick. When you have seen one boob job you have seen them all. I will gladly forgo anything about the Jackson’s for the rest of my life. Who needs them when you have professional war protesters with boob jobs of their own and are also boobs who need a face lift?

I know that I have overworked this rare delight but I would like to call attention to the fact that I hope the next time I hear of Sean Penn that he has done something about his poor little saggy face or else he would tone down the huge pompadour on the top of his head. I know that he is as proud of his high pompadour as Janet Jackson is of her breast, but after a while you need to get a new gadget to be associated with. I looked everywhere trying to find a star for my topper on my Christmas tree as big as the one on Janet's right breast but to no avail, I had to settle for an angel. The angel did not have a pompadour but did have blonde hair just like Michael Jackson's children. The top of the tree also tilted way over to one side, a dead ringer for when the moon walker held one of these children over the balcony in Germany. It warmed my heart that I could come at least that close to something that is or is not of that famous blood line.

For all I know Prince Charles and the one who laid down her life for her country have gone back to England. As per usual, they did not make much of a splash with the two day visit. Yes, he has his own line of health food. Other than that not much material there. It is just so hard to remember that this was the adultery story of the decade. But there you go. I am just so glad that Di was the bloodline for his children. It gives me hope for future posts on this blog. But to leave you with one important fact: they do not wear panties in England. There they wear knickers. If Fergie is on Dancing with the Stars, I guess we will see her knickers. Until then, I am waiting for my Albuquerque paper and enjoying my knickers being in a twist... See you at the Super Bowl... SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

If Men Oppose

February 3

ONLY believe. The Walls of Jericho fell down. Was it axes or human implements that brought them down? Rather the Songs of Praise of the people and My Thought carried out in action.

All walls shall fall before you, too. There is no earth-power, It falls like a house of paper, at My miracle-working touch. Your faith and My power--the only two essentials. Nothing else is needed.

So, if man's petty opposition still holds good it is only because I choose to let it stand between you and what would be a mistake for you. If not--a word--a thought--from Me, and it is gone. The hearts of Kings are in my rule and governance. All men can be moved at My wish.

Rest in this certainty. Rely on Me.

Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002

From Daniel

Daniel writes, "I like living in my country because we are protected by the U.S. Marines."

The Heroes

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor. This is part of a series, honoring the Marines who received the Medal Of Honor.

Charles Gene Abrell (Aug. 31, 1931 - June 10, 1951) was a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps who served with Company E, 2nd Battalion 1st Marines, 1st Division during the Korean War. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions and sacrifice of life on June 10, 1951, near Hangnyong, Korea, while advancing his platoon against enemy fire. He hurled himself into an enemy bunker with a live grenade, killing the enemy gun crew and himself in the explosion.

Charles Abrell was born in Terre Haute, Ind., in 1931. He attended school in Las Vegas, Nev., and then enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 17, 1948, at age 17. Following recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., he was assigned to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., and also served aboard the USS Noble before going to Korea with the 1st Marine Division.He was in combat at Inchon, Seoul, Wonsan, Chosin Reservoir and Hanghum before the fatal assault on a hill near Hwachon for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.
Charles Abrell is buried in the West Lawn Cemetery in Farmersburg, Indiana.


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Fire Team Leader in Company E, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 10 June 1951. While advancing with his platoon in an attack against well-concealed and heavily-fortified enemy hill positions, Corporal Abrell voluntarily rushed forward through the assaulting squad which was pinned down by a hail of intense and accurate automatic-weapons fire from a hostile bunker situated on commanding ground. Although previously wounded by enemy hand-grenade fragments, he proceeded to carry out a bold, single-handed attack against the bunker, exhorting his comrades to follow him. Sustaining two additional wounds as he stormed toward the emplacement, he resolutely pulled the pin from a grenade clutched in his hand and hurled himself bodily into the bunker with the live missile still in his grasp. Fatally wounded in the resulting explosion which killed the entire enemy gun crew within the stronghold, Corporal Abrell, by his valiant spirit of self-sacrifice in the face of certain death, served to inspire all his comrades and contributed directly to the success of his platoon in attaining its objective. His superb courage and heroic initiative sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

President Harry S. Truman

To Eric: Safe Journies

It was great to see Eric. With him, you can never miss. He reminds me of Aaron in so many ways. For one, he is always laughing or smiling.

He and his crew finished their job and left this morning. I'll get to see him again in May when we go there unless he has another job come up before then. He's been here a couple of times on jobs with the concrete business. He was here the week before Aaron was killed. Then a couple of times since.

Eric and I have always been pretty tight. He and his older brother Dana popped wheelies in wheelchairs, all up and down the hallway of the old hospital in Amherst, Texas when I had Aaron. Our hospital of tradition.

I was born there in '55, then Lisa, '58; Gary, '62; Zach, '79, and Aaron, '82. I had our last baby there ten days before it shut down. Shane and Kayla were born in Hobbs, but at different hospitals. So it had been a romantic notion of mine to have Aaron there, even though I lived in Lubbock. Plus I really liked the doctor in Amherst. Small hospital, so no problem for everyone to see the wheelies.

Mom was in the hospital too, and I had been there for a full two weeks prior, so by then, I think the nurses hated us both. Hhmm, go figure. What a miserable little time that was. I had Aaron on July 1, 1982 and the air conditioning was from the first round of babies in the '50's no doubt.

Aaron was always the craziest about Eric, even though Dana doted on Aaron more. In fact, Aaron got on Eric's nerves until Aaron grew up some. Eric didn't care much for the blanket at all, and hated it when Aaron whined, which as a two year old, was frequent.

Aaron couldn't say "Eric" so he called him "Rick," and chased after him dragging his blanket at ALL times! Aaron threw his blanket away, but he never quit chasing Eric; he followed him through their very last day together, which was less than two days after we left.

I have photos I've yet to scan that are in Aaron's Americana chest. I haven't made up my mind if I want to for this Valentine's, or save them for next year. It's strange running out of pictures. And next year will be leap year. They're photos of his last weekend with us, which as I've said, was Valentine's and too, leap year. Had it not been for my cousin, Tonya, I wouldn't have those. Actually, they were his. Tonya and Allie went to visit Aaron and the crew the day Lisa, Kayla, Greg and I left. None of us, but a bunch of them are of Eric and Aaron pulling each other on a tube or something behind Eric's truck. Those two never failed to find the adventure in something after Aaron grew older. I liked watching them together.

Love to all, and I hope you have a great weekend. I'll be back in the morning.

Semper Fi,

With Love

Friday, February 02, 2007

Photo of the Day: Aaron and Who?

Aboard the USS Rushmore

The Eight Part Series of Torpedo Squadron 8 Begins

Life August 31, 1942


Top back row from left to right: J.C. OWENS JR., E.L. FAYLE (TRANSFERRED), JOHN C. WALDRON, R.A. MOORE


Top left: U.M. MOORE, W. R. EVANS, G. W. TEATS,



"... Fifteen torpedo planes from this group, therefore, located the enemy to the westward and proceeded to attack at once without protection or assistance of any kind. Although some bits were reported by radio from these airplanes and although some enemy fighters were shot down, the total damage inflicted by this squadron in this attack may never be known. None of these 15 planes returned. The sole survivor of the 30 officers and men of this squadron was Ensign G. H. Gay Jr., U.S.N.R., who scored one torpedo hit on an enemy carrier before he was shot down."

Thus, in Communique No. 97, the U.S. Navy wrote the terse official epitaph of Torpedo Squadron 8. That might have been all that the world ever knew, were it not for the one young officer who survived. Ensign Gay, saved by some whim of fate while all his comrades perished, has come back to tell a story of sacrifice and gallantry that deserves to live forever in American history.

The actual achievement of Torpedo Squadron 8, in a military sense, was important but not crucial. It took place on the second day of the Battle of Midway, when the Japanese attacking force was still almost intact. Squadron 8 found the Japanese force, which had been lost for several hours, recklessly attacked one of the enemy carriers and disrupted the whole force for the dive bombers which delivered their attack a few minutes later.

The real importance of the story of Torpedo Squadron 8 is not the damage it did to a Japanese carrier but the reckless heroism with which it carried out its mission. It is a story of a veteran U.S. Navy pilot who welded a group of relative youngsters from the four corners of his country into a fighting unit to defend it, in a time that was all too short and under conditions that were none too favorable. It is the story of young Americans, brought up in a world of peace and safety, who sought the danger of battle and, when they found it, flew unflinching into what they knew must be for most of them certain death. This is the story that Ensign Gay has to tell. It is at once an inspiration to all America and eloquent proof that American manhood has the stuff of which heroes are made and victories won.



The story to be continued in seven future parts.

Gunz Up will make it a tradition to continue with the history of other battles and wars. Their stories truly must be told over and over again. And when I am gone, I hope someone will continue to tell the stories of my own son's war and battles. I will share those as well, as much as I can based on the knowledge of a mother back home. We will share as much as possible about my forever hero, though it may take a while to get there in 'Blood Is Thicker Than Water.'

And speaking of blood, I need to get to the hospital to see mine! Have a great day.

Life August 31, 1942

Virgie Bell's View: Honest About Oil

Personally I would just as soon the present candidates stop all their trips to Iraq. If anyone thinks that some little hoity toity like Hillary or Pelosi are going to find out anything new, I don't know what to tell you. We have so many going over there that I am afraid it gives the wrong signal to the enemies of our country, especially if they are here in the United States and trying to keep a troop surge out of that area as well as trying to keep from funding the troops. This is exactly what Osama Bin Laden was counting on when he said the American people don't have the stomach for a protracted fight against the war on terror.

Fifty years after the first oil well was sunk in Texas there has been one war after another. That black stuff has been the treasure everyone has been after ever since. “No more blood for oil” is the cry here in America, but in fact if we let this natural resource fall into the wrong hands, and we are doing that pretty fast, we are in a world of trouble. Our entire economy is based upon that black gold and don't let anyone tell you any different. Our agriculture, our manufacturing, our means of communication and travel, they are all dependent on oil. The United States leads the world in technology and weaponry, true, but it is not going anywhere without oil, and it will run out someday. It will eventually dry up everywhere. It is fossil fuel and that will be used up. Of course we need to find alternative fuels, but the truth is that it will take a vast reserve of our oil supply just to do that. Anyone would have to be a real simpleton to figure otherwise.

Venezuela dictator Hugo Chaves has taken over the oil supply in that country and he hates the United States. He now controls the fifth largest oil reserve in the world. The Middle East is the world’s richest oil reserve and our present majority leaders are going to keep on until we are shut out of that supply. We have invested blood, sweat, and tears in an effort to stop the enemies of that country from controlling that reserve and using it against peace loving nations everywhere. It may come as a shock to us that given half a chance the terrorists would use that supply to destroy our economy. Everyone gets this shocked look on their face about this simple fact, but in fact the lack of oil is why Japan tried to take over the world during World War II. Millions of our troops were lost in that war. Because Germany squandered the oil supply is what caused Hitler's fall.

The Persian Gulf has been and always will be the thing that will balance world power. I wish that it wasn't so but the truth of the matter is that it is. I don't mean that the income should come to us from this resource. But it certainly should not be used as oil for food fiascos such as the United Nations allowed Saddam Hussein to do. He used that vast reserve to build palaces and plundered his own people, while he filled mass graves with the citizens of that country.

Sure Afghanistan is the hiding place of the Taliban. But the only resource they have is poppies. Ever run a county on opium? I don't think so. When the Hutus and the Tutsis were beheading each other, when the rivers ran red with blood of these tribes. The world said" not our fight.” If that had occurred on top of a vast oil reserve the world would have sang a different tune. Sure, one day we also might run out of water. We can’t live without that either. But it is time for us to be truthful about the matter. We desperately need to survive. We need to SUPPORT OUR TROOPS!

Practise Love

February 2

Watch over and protect us.

WANT of Love will block the way. You must love all. Those that fret you and those who do not.

Practise Love. It is a great lesson, and you have a great Teacher. You must love, how otherwise can you dwell in Me, where nothing unloving can come? Practise this and I will bless you exceedingly, above all you cannot only ask, but imagine.

No limit to My Power. Do all you can and leave to me the rest. Peace will come and Trust. Fear not, I am your Advocate, your Mediator.

Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.


Though Ft. Lee took some getting used to, I eventually did and it wasn’t too bad. I was a squad leader, and my Drill Sergeant titled me Momma Smurf. I was promoted to E-2 there and I recall the feeling of pride I had in at last having something on my collar as he pinned the mosquito wings on me. He was a great man. I don’t remember his name but I’ll never forget him.

He wasn’t tall. But I remember everything about the man was full of definition. Something about him captured attention and held it. Not just his physique, his eyes were the color of coal, his complexion more like dark honey--the juxtaposition was as startling as the brilliance of his watch and wedding band, each circled an almost golden halo around his shiny dark skin--he--a newly-wed and a little cocky—but just handsome enough to get by with it. He was a Christian man who spoke openly and admiringly of our Lord; he was confident in all. Defined and illuminated.

He used to catch me in front of a crowd, a long-line somewhere and holler, “Drop Momma Smurf; show Joe how you can push.” The performing monkey would drop and do 40 or 50 pushups or go until he said stop. By this time I was doing 75 pushups in the 2 minute test, 53 sit-ups, and my 2 mile run was around 15 something, I think. 14 something was the best it ever was and 16 something the least. I loved PT.

It was there I learned to drive forklifts of all sizes. I liked the little ones (can’t remember what they’re called, but civilians use them all the time). Too, I liked driving the huge camouflaged ones, but hated picking up 55 gallon drums.

I really did not like my MOS at all, but it’s the one I had, so I dealt with it, but the real job I was supposed to land as a 76 Victor at an actual duty station promised little more than a warehouse of petroleum, tires or parts. Very outdoorsy sounding to me. Very oily, stinky and full of 55 gallon drums getting dropped by their picker-upper and dropper-downer-driver, I pictured. Me, working at a near gas station. Worse. Dropping drums at one.

There was a Satan worshiper in my squad. He carried his devil-bible-incantation book in his cargo pocket. While others read their “smart book” during breaks, he read his as well as his dark book. He smiled more than anyone else, was quiet. Once when our squad (out of the many) had to clean the dayroom, scrape up boot marks with the famous slice of green square whose name escapes me just now, mop, wax and buff the huge floor, late at night after it closed, the Satan worshiper started playing his weird music. I asked him to stop, to play anything else than that, and he obliged me without problem. He was so strange. And always alone and smiling.

Close to graduation we went on a three day FTX, a Field Training Exercise. I did well on that, I did well on the late nights as a squad leader, I did well on pretty much everything (aside from the drums, but that was just a fraction of the final test) and then we went on a short road march into the woods to test on various weapons; we were to give a class of our own.

My test was on the LAW, a relatively easy one to draw, but right in the middle, I forgot, and I started “talking” to the Drill Sergeant, asking for help and he got mad and started hollering.

Then I started hollering. Bad. Bad. Bad. I freely admit how wrong I was, but I went blind for a bit.

When he asked me where my mind was I said something about no sleep, then of course he responded and I did with the dayroom and shined boots theory of late night hours and how sick of training I was and he replied everyone else had been doing it for four months too, well, I’d been doing it for nearly eight, I said, and then after he “At eased” me three times, I got my sight back, saw his stripes once again and pictured my mosquito wings flying away at mach speed carrying my corporal squad leader band with it.

I finished the demonstration somehow and went back to some covert area I was to cover and fought tears. I really was sorry for how I acted. But I really was exhausted by that time.

For nearly eight months I’d had fire guard, night guard, dayroom, latrine duty, name it. I knew every trick on detailing everything for inspections of every kind. It makes me feel guilty for how rough I thought I had it then when I think of now.

The Drill could’ve burned me and then I was sure he was about to when he called me and another female squad leader over to him when we returned to garrison. But instead he walked us to an empty room, one with only two bunks in it, and told us it was ours. A two-man room. Wow.

As I started to apologize, he brushed me off and simply said, “Forget it Momma Smurf. “Shine this floor and you know the deal.” The deal being to burn Johnson’s paste wax into the floor even though it was against regs. We knew how to shine. We bought it on our own. It was our deal. It was understood. It was after all, about the inspection.

He somehow acknowledged my humanness and my worth all within those few words “shine and know the deal.” There’d be no changes made in our worlds that day.

‘The Third Herd’ we were called. We were the third platoon. We did shine and we did get to go to DC on our trip, and then when 80% of the company got orders to Germany, mine were to Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington, DC. No one could believe it. I was elated. One of the E-7 instructors said, “Private, do you know how many years I’ve been in and have tried to get duty in a place like that?”

Where would the warehouse be? The gas station? No one could figure it out.

“What about field time?” I asked the E-7.

“Pssshh, won’t be any field time there, Private....” He shook his head a little and I thought, at last, God is smiling down on me. I couldn’t think of a place I’d rather be. I’d learn to deal with those 55 gallon drums. Who knows, maybe there weren’t any.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Photo of the Day: The Way Home

by Tandi Venter

and goodnight, kids.

Another Start

February 1

TAKE courage. Do not fear. Start a new life tomorrow. Put the old mistakes away, and start anew. I give you a frest start. Be not burdened. Be not anxious. If My forgiveness were for the righteous only, and those who had not sinned, where would be its need?

Remember as I said to Mary of old, "To whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much."

Why do you fret and worry so? I wait to give you all that is lovely, but your lives are soiled with worry and fret. You would crush My treasures. I can only bless glad, thankful hearts.

You must be glad and joyful.

Russell, A. J., ed., God Calling. Barnes & Noble, 2002.


You remember long ago, I asked the class who this was? You'll be reading some good stuff here in the near future about the past, so Karen, get your two sharpened pencils ready, head up to the front of the class for good notes.

Steve, Virgie Bell, Kayla, Doc, and Sgt. Rett: It wouldn't hurt you to take some notes either. You'll be more inclined to take the test that way.

Billy: You're excused.

Speaking of Polls ... did you take this one, Mom?

FOX News Poll: Most Say Iraq Matters to Security of U.S.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

By Dana Blanton

NEW YORK — The latest FOX News Poll finds that most Americans believe the situation in Iraq makes a difference to their security here in the United States — a sentiment often repeated by President Bush. Even so, a majority continues to oppose the president’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.

President Bush’s job performance rating is up a couple ticks — currently 38 percent of Americans approve and 54 percent disapprove. In the week prior to his State of the Union speech, 35 percent approved and 58 percent disapproved (16-17 January 2007).
Republicans returning to the positive column helped buoy the president’s rating; after dipping into the 70s and even the high 60s, this is the first time 80 percent of his fellow GOPers have approved of the job he’s doing since before the midterm elections (October 2006).

Click here for full results.

As for the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, 33 percent of voters approve of the job Congress is doing and 44 percent disapprove, with 22 percent saying they are unsure.
Opinion Dynamics Corporation conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from January 30 to January 31. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

Fully 77 percent of Americans believe that what happens in Iraq matters to their security here in the United States, including majorities of Democrats (66 percent), independents (79 percent) and Republicans (90 percent).

In addition, the poll finds that people believe the military should use more force against the insurgents. While 1 of 10 Americans think the military’s response to the continuing violence in Iraq has been too aggressive, a 44 percent plurality thinks it hasn’t been aggressive enough. A third (32 percent) think the military’s response has been "about right."

Republicans (56 percent) and independents (46 percent) are more likely than Democrats (35 percent) to think the military should be more aggressive in responding to the insurgents.

Views on President Bush’s new plan for Iraq remain essentially unchanged from earlier in the month: 35 percent of Americans support sending more troops to Iraq and 57 percent oppose it — almost identical to results from polling conducted the week after the president proposed his plan in a primetime speech to the nation.

The president and his administration have asked that the plan be given a chance to work, and though many Americans agree it should be given a chance (41 percent), nearly half say no, it is clear the plan will not succeed (49 percent). The partisan divide here is extremely telling: 82 percent of Republicans think Bush’s plan should be given a chance to work, while 76 percent of Democrats say it should not.

"It is clear that Americans are extremely skeptical about the Bush plan," said Opinion Dynamics Chairman John Gorman. "This war has lasted a long time and Americans are tired of the apparent lack of progress."

Looking at a broader list of options for handling the situation in Iraq, a slim majority of Americans (52 percent) thinks U.S. troops should pull out of Iraq either immediately (12 percent) or gradually over the next year (40 percent), with 34 percent saying they think U.S. troops should stay until Iraqi troops are capable of taking control, and 9 percent saying send more troops.

Among Republicans, a majority (55 percent) supports having U.S. troops stay until the Iraqi troops are ready. A similar number of Democrats (57 percent) supports pulling out gradually over the next year.

Congress has been considering a non-binding resolution expressing opposition to the president’s plan to send more troops. By almost two-to-one Americans think passing such a resolution would do more harm than good: 47 percent say it is more likely to encourage the enemy and hurt troop morale, compared with 24 percent who think it would make a positive difference to U.S. policy toward Iraq.


USS New York

USS New York

It was built with 24 tons of scrap steel from the World Trade Center.

It is the fifth in a new class of warship - designed for missions that include special operations against terrorists. It will carry a crew of 360 sailors and 700 combat-ready Marines to be delivered ashore by helicopters and assault craft.

Steel from the World Trade Center was melted down in a foundry in Amite, LA to cast the ship's bow section. When it was poured into the molds on Sept. 9, 2003, "those big rough steelworkers treated it with total reverence," recalled Navy Capt. Kevin Wensing, who was there. "It was a spiritual moment for everybody there."

Junior Chavers, foundry operations manager, said that when the trade center steel first arrived, he touched it with his hand and the "hair on my neck stood up." "It had a big meaning to it for all of us," he said. "They knocked us down. They can't keep us down. We're going to be back."

The ship's motto? "Never Forget"


Thanks to Karen for passing it on! And as she said, "Isn't she a beauty?"

Virgie Bell's View: Half-Time Entertainment Now Aired for the Humpteenth Time

If you happened to miss the event of the season, the march on Washington by that eclectic bunch of protesters, then I hope you were one of those of us fortunate enough who got to see several reruns yesterday. Like the Super Bowl, it will be talked about for years. I’ve wondered why they didn't have a half-time during the march. Well bless me; I finally realized the whole thing is a half-time celebration. I finally got a glimpse of this spectacular parade. The general idea being for and then against everything in the universe and that is a difficult feat. It is taught in a college classroom and is called activism.

Please do not mistake Ms. Fonda or her bunch for this though; they never attended a college class of any kind. No, they are the ones who walk across a stage and receive honorary degrees in other things as well as activism. I finally understood and was relived. However, I still couldn’t pin down some of the causes. The Plus-Size Women with Feather Tiaras and New Year’s Paper Horns. So happy and so giggly. Hmmm.... So that is antiwar? The clowns too?

I see.

Well if it hadn't have been for Fonda and crew, I swear I would have missed it. Now I also need to amend one statement by Ms. Sarandon. No, Susan, we did not give India a nuclear reactor for a million mangos. We gave North Korea a nuclear reactor for the peaceful process of blowing the United States into ashes. We did that with President Clinton. Bush is the one that is left with the happy task of trying to disarm it.

I love to take all the little polls and yesterday they had one with about eight people who one might or might not want for president. Nancy Pelosi has the honor of 80% not wanting her. So we now have two representatives from New Mexico trying to impeach Bush and Cheney. No one pays much attention to representatives from New Mexico, at least I hope not. I don’t want Ms. Pelosi for President either. I am ashamed of Mr. Biden for calling Obama clean. I also want to sign up for the next protest by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Clean is a racist remark and they intend to march against it. SUPPORT THE TROOPS!

Thoughts on This?

Rules of Engagement Questioned

Associated Press February 01, 2007

DEL RIO, Texas - A recent standoff between National Guardsmen and heavily armed outlaws along the U.S.-Mexico border has rattled some troops and raised questions about the rules of engagement for Soldiers who were supposed to be playing a backup role.

Six to eight gunmen - possibly heading for Mexico with drug money - approached a group of National Guard troops at an observation post Jan. 3 on the U.S. side of the Arizona-Mexico border. No one fired a shot, and the confrontation ended when the troops retreated to contact the U.S. Border Patrol. The gunmen fled into Mexico.

But the incident made some National Guard commanders nervous enough to move up training dates for handling hostage situations. And some lawmakers have questioned why the rules prohibit the Soldiers from opening fire unless they are fired upon.

"Why would this be allowed to happen?" Republican Arizona state Representative Warde Nichols said. "Why do we have National Guard running from illegals on the border?"

The standoff was the first known armed encounter between National Guard troops and civilians since U.S. President George W. Bush ordered about 6,000 Soldiers to the border in May to support the Border Patrol and local law enforcement. The guard was supposed to be the "eyes and ears" for other agencies and was not given authority to arrest or detain illegal immigrants.

Until the rules of engagement are changed, the troops are little more than "window dressing ... to say we are doing something about border security," Nichols said.

The men who confronted the Soldiers were armed with automatic weapons when they saw the Soldiers, split into two groups and appeared to be trying to surround them, authorities said. Before the Guardsmen retreated, one gunman came within 35 feet of the Soldiers, according to a National Guard report. The outlaws' nationality was unclear.

Republican Arizona state Rep. Jerry Weiers said the rules of engagement put Soldiers in a tough position.

Several Soldiers said the Arizona confrontation worried them.
First Lt. Wayne Lee, a spokesman for the New Mexico National Guard, said Soldiers "are not supposed to get into a firefight. It's not the Sunni Triangle."


Doc's Duty: A Medical Mini

It only takes a minute to read this...

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Thank God for the sense to remember the "3" steps, STR . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S *Ask the individual to SMILE.

T *Ask the person to TALK .

to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. . . It is sunny out today)

R *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

{NOTE: Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue... if the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke}

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 9-1-1 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people; you can bet that at least one life will be saved.


So what do you think, Doc? Is this good advice? Do you see much stroke on the battlefield?

And thanks to Aunt Linda Dale for passing it on!

The Heroes

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.

This is the first in a series where Gunz Up will honor the Marines whose love of country and of their brothers in arms propelled them to heroism.

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR posthumously to PRIVATE FIRST CLASS HAROLD C. AGERHOLMSTATES MARINE CORPS RESERVE for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Fourth Battalion, Tenth Marines, Second Marine Division, in action against enemy Japanese forces on Saipan, Marianas Islands, 7 July 1944. When the enemy launched a fierce, determined counterattack against our positions and overran a neighboring artillery battalion, Private First Class Agerholm immediately volunteered to assist in the efforts to check the hostile attack and evacuate our wounded. Locating and appropriating an abandoned ambulance jeep, he repeatedly made extremely perilous trips under heavy rifle and mortar fire and single-handedly loaded and evacuated approximately forty-five casualties, working tirelessly and with utter disregard for his own safety during a gruelling period of more than three hours. Despite intense, persistent enemy fire, he ran out to aid two men whom he believed to be wounded Marines but was himself mortally wounded by a Japanese sniper while carrying out his hazardous mission. Private First Class Agerholm's brilliant initiative, great personal valor and self-sacrificing efforts in the face of almost certain death reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.

President Harry S. Truman

I'll Take That In Small Bills, Please

One of the columns I wrote when I was a newspaper editor.

Just when I was about to abandon myself to cynicism, I received an e-mail that assures me there are people who still believe in casting their bread upon the water.

Mr. Ali Hassan recently wrote to me from the United Arab Emirates, which made me perk up. I’ve never received an e-mail from anyone living more than 30 miles away from me, so the idea of communicating with someone who is eating breakfast while I’m still sleeping makes me feel like I’m Matt Lauer. Well, maybe more like Katie.

Anyway, Mr. Hassan began his little note by telling me he had hunted far and wide for a reputable and reliable person to assist him. Well, I know how he feels. I do that every time I go to one of those big stores to shop.

The note took a clandestine turn in the next sentence, and I began to feel like Bogart in Casablanca. Mr. Hassan was on an urgent mission that required the utmost trust and confidentiality. Well, I had to stop right there. See, if we’re going to be honest, I have to tell you now that my shoulders can bear only so much.

Wasn’t it enough that he was requiring me to be reputable and reliable? Now he was throwing in the need to keep juicy information to myself. I could feel the responsibility starting to take the shine off of this exotic e-mail. Just what did this man want from me?

He went on, and I decided to ignore that business about confidentiality. After all, he’s thousands of miles away, and who does he think he is anyway? Tom Ridge?

It seems Mr. Hasan is in a pickle. Yes, sir. The man is the manager of the Bills and Exchange Department of Dubai U.A.E. International. Well, I was impressed right off because I know for a fact that my bank over at the Wal-Mart doesn’t have such a department. They’re thinking of expanding though.

Well, Mr. Hassan said he discovered $24 million in an account that belonged to a foreign customer who died. Yes, sir. He died, and what’s worse is that his wife and three children also died in a plane crash in 1998.

The $24 million has just been sitting there, collecting interest and dust. I think Mr. Hassan has been wringing his hands and wondering what is to be done with such a sum. Bless his heart.

It seems Mr. Hassan’s altruism has no bounds. He wants to share this fortune with me. Yes, with me. Can you imagine? Well it’s because I’m reputable and reliable, he says. It’s a good thing he lives so far away and doesn’t know the truth. Hasn’t the man ever seen “America’s Most Wanted”? Don’t they have post offices with posters in them over there? I guess not, and it’s a good thing for me. We won’t even talk about the confidentiality part. I can hold a poker face for only so long. Geez. I’m not Donald Rumsfeld.

To get my share of the money, Mr. Hassan wants me to send him as quickly as possible all of the details about my bank account, my phone number and whether or not I hear voices. Oh, wait. That was another test. I get confused.

When I send the information, Mr. Hassan will fly immediately to the United States where we will split the spoils like pirates on the beach. Isn’t he a wonderful guy? He’s going to put all of the $24 million in my account and then trust me to wait for him to get here so we can split it. Gosh, he’s a nice man.

But I was thinking. What would I do with half of $24 million? I already have a Veg-O-Matic, and I tell you, if I get one more Star Wars mug from McDonald’s, there won’t be room for the Batman series. A guy can live high on the hog for only so long.

I’ll have to decline Mr. Hassan’s offer, I guess. My bank over at Wal-Mart would probably have to get a vault or at least a lockable suitcase to hold all that money, and they’re just starting out. It’s not fair to ask them to accommodate such a sum so soon after their opening.

Now if anyone wants Mr. Hassan’s e-mail, just let me know. But keep in mind – you must be reputable and reliable. I’ve proven I can’t pass the confidentiality part because here I am blabbing the news to everyone like Joan Rivers on Oscar night.I’m just not worthy, Mr. Hassan, but I hear our presidential candidates might be open to a deal. Call them.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard of Polk City, Iowa, Spc. Jason J. Corbett of Casper, Wyo., Sgt. Paul T. Sanchez, of Irving, Texas, Lance Cpl. Andrew G. Matus of Chetek, Wis. and Col. Brian D. Allgood of Oklahoma.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes: We Will Remember You

From left: Senior Airman Elizabeth A. Loncki of New Castle, Del., Sgt. James M. Wosika Jr.of St. Paul, Minn., Spc. Eric T. Caldwell of Salisbury, Md.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Sgt. Ian C. Andersosn of Prairie Village, Kan., Pfc. Ryan R. Berg of Sabine Pass, Texas, and Spc. Collin R. Schockmel of Richwood, Texas.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Lance Cpl. Luis J. Castillo of Lawton, Mich., Sgt. Gary S. Johnston of Windthorst, Texas, Capt. Sean E. Lyerly of Pflugerville, Texas, Cpl. Jacob H. Neal of San Marcos, Texas, Spc. William J. Rechenmacher of Jacksonville, Fla., and Sgt. John M. Sullivan, of Hixson, Tenn.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Spc. Raymond N. Mitchell, III of West Memphis, Ark., Cpl. Jeremiah J. Johnson of Vancouver, Wash.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Staff Sgt. Charles D. Allen of Wasilla, Alaska, Spc. Nicholas P. Brown of Huber Heights, Ohio, Sgt. 1st Class Keith A. Callahan of McClure, Pa., and Command Sgt. Maj. Roger W. Haller of Davidsonville, Md.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Jon B. St. John II of Neenah, Wis., Maj. Alan Johnson of Yakima, Wash., Staff Sgt. Jamie D. Wilson of San Diego, and Staff Sgt. Michael J. Wiggins of Cleveland, Ohio.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Sgt. 1st Class Russell P. Borea of El Paso, Texas, 2nd Lt. Mark J. Daily of Irvine, Calif., Sgt. John E. Cooper of Ewing, Ky., and Spc. Matthew T. Grimm of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Spc. Jeffrey D. Bisson of Vista, Calif., Spc. Johnathan B. Chism of Gonzales, La., Pfc. Shawn P. Falter of Cortland, N.Y., and Sgt. Sean P. Fennerty of Corvallis, Ore.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

From left: Pfc. Allen B. Jaynes of Henderson, Texas, Pfc. Darrell W. Shipp of San Antonio, Texas and Sgt. Gregroy A. Wright of Boston, Mass.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-October and the Japanese Offensive *1

FIRST OFFENSIVE: The Marine Campaign for Guadalcanal
by Henry I. Shaw, Jr.

On 30 September, unexpectedly, a B-17 carrying Admiral Nimitz made an emergency landing at Henderson Field. The CinCPac made the most of the opportunity. He visited the front lines, saw Edson's Ridge, and talked to a number of Marines. He reaffirmed to Vandegrift that his overriding mission was to hold the airfield. He promised all the support he could give and after awarding Navy Crosses to a number of Marines, including Vandegrift, left the next day visibly encouraged by what he had seen.

The next Marine move involved a punishing return to the Matanikau, this time with five infantry battalions and the Whaling group. Whaling commanded his men and the 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, in a thrust inland to clear the way for two battalions of the 7th Marines, the 1st and 2d, to drive through and hook toward the coast, hitting the Japanese holding along the Matanikau. Edson's 2d and 3d Battalions would attack across the river mouth. All the division's artillery was positioned to fire in support.

On the 7th, Whaling's force moved into the jungle about 2,000 yards upstream on the Matanikau, encountering Japanese troops that harassed his forward elements, but not in enough strength to stop the advance. He bypassed the enemy positions and dug in for the night. Behind him the 7th Marines followed suit, prepared to move through his lines, cross the river, and attack north toward the Japanese on the 8th. The 5th Marines' assault battalions moving toward the Matanikau on the 7th ran into Japanese in strength about 400 yards from the river. Unwittingly, the Marines had run into strong advance elements of the Japanese 4th Regiment, which had crossed the Matanikau in order to establish a base form which artillery could fire into the Marine perimeter. The fighting was intense and the 3d Battalion, 5th, could make little progress, although the 2d Battalion encountered slight opposition and won through to the river bank. It then turned north to hit the inland flank of the enemy troops. Vandegrift sent forward a company of raiders to reinforce the 5th, and it took a holding position on the right, towards the beach.


Blood Is Thicker Than Water: The Big Guns

Visiting Guadalcanal on 30 September, Adm Chester W. Nimitz, CinCPac, took time to decorate LtCol Evans C. Carlson, CO, 2d Raider Battalion; MajGen Vandegrift, in rear; and, from left, BGen William H. Rupertus, ADC; Col Merritt A. Edson, CO, 5th Marines; LtCol Edwin A. Pollock, CO 2d Battalion, 1st Marines; Maj John L. Smith, CO, VMF-223 Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 50883

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: 11th Marines Artillery Crewmen

A M1918 155mm howitzer is fired by artillery crewmen of the 11th Marines in support of ground forces attacking the enemy. Despite the lack of sound-flash equipment to locate hostile artillery. Col del Valle's guns were able to quiet enemy fire. Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 61534

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-October and the Japanese Offensive*2

Rain poured down on the 8th, all day long, virtually stopping all forward progress, but not halting the close-in fighting around the Japanese pocket. The enemy troops finally retreated, attempting to escape the gradually encircling Marines. They smashed into the raider's position nearest to their escape route. A wild hand-to-hand battle ensued and a few Japanese broke through to reach and cross the river. The rest died fighting.

On the 9th, Whaling's force, flanked by the 2d and then the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, crossed the Matanikau and then turned and followed ridge lines to the sea. Puller's battalion discovered a number of Japanese in a raving to his front, fired his mortars, and called in artillery, while his men used rifles and machine guns to pick off enemy troops trying to escape what proved to be a death trap. When his mortar ammunition began to run short, Puller moved on toward the beach, joining the rest of Whaling's force, which had encountered no opposition. The Marines then recrossed the Matanikau, joined Edson's troops, and marched back to the perimeter, leaving a strong combat outpost at the Matanikau, now cleared of Japanese. General Vandegrift, apprised by intelligence sources that a major Japanese attack was coming from the west, decided to consolidate his positions, leaving no sizable Marine force more than a day's march from the perimeter. The Marine advance on 7-9 October had thwarted Japanese plans for an early attack and cost the enemy more than 700 men. The Marines paid a price too, 65 dead and 125 wounded.

There was another price that Guadalcanal was exacting from both sides. Disease was beginning to fell men in numbers that equalled the battle casualties. In addition to gastroenteritis, which greatly weakened those who suffered its crippling stomach cramps, there were all kinds of tropical fungus infections, collectively known as "jungle rot," which produced uncomfortable rashes on men's feet, armpits, elbows, and crotches, a product of seldom being dry, If it didn't rain, sweat provided the moisture. On top of this came hundreds of cases of malaria. Atabrine tablets provided some relief, besides turning the skin yellow, but they were not effective enough to stop the spread of the mosquito-borne infection. malaria attacks were so pervasive that nothing sort of complete prostration, becoming a litter case, could earn a respite in the hospital. naturally enough, all these diseases affected most strongly the men who had been on the island the longest, particularly those who experienced the early days of short rations. Vandegrift had already argued with his superiors that when his men eventually got relieved they should not be sent to another tropical island hospital, but rather to a place where there was a real change of atmosphere and climate. He asked that Auckland or Wellington, New Zealand, be considered.

For the present, however, there was to be no relief for men starting their third month on Guadalcanal. The Japanese would not abandon their plan to seize back Guadalcanal and gave painful evidence of their intentions near mid-October. General Hyakutake himself landed on Guadalcanal on 7 October to oversee the coming offensive. Elements of Major General Masao Maruyama's Sendai Division, already a factor in the fighting near the Matanikau, landed with him More men were coming. And the Japanese, taking advantage of the fact that Cactus flyers had no night attack capability, planned to ensure that no planes at all would rise from Guadalcanal to meet them.

On 11 October, U.S. Navy surface ships took a hand in stopping the "Tokyo Express," the nickname that had been given to Admiral Tanaka's almost nightly reinforcement forays. A covering force of five cruisers and five destroyers, located near Rennell Island and commanded by Rear Admiral Norman Scott, got word that many ships were approaching Guadalcanal. Scott's mission was to protect an approaching reinforcement convoy and he steamed toward Cactus at flank speed eager to engage. He encountered more ships than he had expected, a bombardment group of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers, as well as six destroyers escorting two seaplane carrier transports. Scott maneuvered between Savo Island and Cape Esperance, Guadalcanal's western tip, and ran head-on into the bombardment group.


Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Malaria as the enemy ...

By October, malaria began to claim as many casualties as Japanese artillery, bombs, and naval gunfire. Shown here are the patients in the division hospital who are ministered to by physicians and corpsmen working under minimal conditions.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-October and the Japanese Offensive *3

Alerted by a scout plane from his flagship, San Francisco (CA-38), spottings later confirmed by radar contacts on the Helena (CL-50), the Americans opened fire before the Japanese, who had no radar, knew of their presence. One enemy destroyer sank immediately, two cruisers were badly damaged, one, the Furutaka, later foundered, and the remaining cruiser and destroyer turned away from the inferno of American fire. Scott's own force was punished by enemy return fire which damaged two cruisers and two destroyers, one of which, the Duncan (DD-485), sank the following day. On the 12th too, Cactus flyers spotted two of the reinforcement destroyer escorts retiring and sank them both. The Battle of Cape Esperance could be counted an American naval victory, one sorely needed at the time.

Its way cleared by Scott's encounter with the Japanese, a really welcome reinforcement convoy arrived at the island on 13 October when the 164th Infantry of the Americal Division arrived. The soldiers, members of a National Guard outfit originally from North Dakota, were equipped with Garand M-1 rifles, a weapon of which most overseas Marines had only heard. In rate of fire, the semiautomatic Garand could easily outperform the single-shot, bolt-action Springfields the Marines carried and the bolt-action rifles the Japanese carried, but most 1st Division Marines of necessity touted the Springfield as inherently more accurate and a better weapon. This did not prevent some light-fingered Marines from acquiring Garands when the occasion present itself. And such an occasion did present itself while the soldiers were landing and their supplies were being moved to dumps. Several flights of Japanese bombers arrived over Henderson Field, relatively unscathed by the defending fighters, and began dropping their bombs. The soldiers headed for cover and alert Marines, inured to the bombing, used the interval to "liberate" interesting cartons and crates. The news that the Army had arrived spread across the island like wildfire, for it meant to all marines that they eventually would be relieved. There was hope.

As if the bombing was not enough grief, the Japanese opened on the airfield with their 150mm howitzers also. Altogether the men of the 164th got a rude welcome to Guadalcanal. And on that night, 13-14 October, they shared a terrifying experience with the Marines that no one would ever forget.

Determined to knock out Henderson Field and protect their soldiers landing in strength west of Koli Point, the enemy commanders sent the battleships Kongo and Haruna into Ironbottom Sound to bombard the Marine positions. The usual Japanese flare planes heralded the bombardment, 80 minutes of sheer hell which had 14-inch shells exploding with such effect that the accompanying cruiser fire was scarcely noticed. No one was safe; no place was safe. No dugout had been built to withstand 14-inch shells. One witness, a seasoned veteran demonstrably cool under enemy fire, opined that there was nothing worse in war than helplessly being on the receiving end of naval gunfire. He remembered "huge trees being cut apart and flying about like toothpicks." And he was on the front lines, not the prime enemy target. The airfield and its environs were a shambles when dawn broke. The naval shelling, together with the night's artillery fire and bombing, had left Cactus Air Force's commander, General Geiger, with a handful of aircraft still flyable, and airfield thickly cratered by shells and bombs, and a death toll of 41. Still, from Henderson or Fighter One, which now became the main airstrip, the Cactus Flyers had to attack, for the morning also revealed a shore and sea full of inviting targets.

The expected enemy convoy had gotten through and Japanese transports and landing craft were everywhere near Tassafaronga. At sea the escorting cruisers and destroyers provided a formidable antiaircraft screen. Every American plane that could fly did. General Geiger's aide, Major Jack Cram, took off in the general's PBY, hastily rigged to carry two torpedoes, and put one of them into the side of an enemy transport as it was unloading. He landed the lumbering flying boat with enemy aircraft hot on his tail. A new squadron of F4Fs, VMF-212, commanded by Major Harold W. Bauer, flew in during the day's action, landed, refueled, and took off to join the fighting. An hour later, Bauer landed again, this time with four enemy bombers to his credit. Bauer, who added to his score of Japanese aircraft kills in later air battles, was subsequently lost in action. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, as were four other Marine pilots of the early Cactus Air Force: Captain Jefferson J. DeBlank (VMF-112); Captain Joseph J. Foss (VMF-121); Major Robert E. Galer (VMF-224); and Major John L. Smith (VMF-223).


Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Japanese 70 mm howitzer

A Marine examines a Japanese 70mm howitzer captured at the Battle of the Tenaru. Gen Maruyama's troops "had to lug, push, and drag these supporting arms over the miles of broken ground, across two major streams and through heavy underbrush" to get them to the target area—but they never did. The trail behind them was littered with the supplies they carried.

Photo courtesy of Col James A. Donovan, Jr.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Guadalcanal-October and the Japanese Offensive *4

The Japanese had landed more than enough troops to destroy the Marine beachhead and seize the airfield. At least General Hyakutake thought so, and he heartily approved General Maruyama's plan to move most of the Sendai Division through the jungle, out of sight and out of contact with the Marines, to strike from the south in the vicinity of Edson's Ridge. Roughly 7,000 men, each carrying a mortar or artillery shell, started along the Maruyama Trail which had been partially hacked out of the jungle well inland from the Marine positions. Maruyama, who had approved the trail's name to indicate his confidence, intended to support this attack with heavy mortars and infantry guns (70mm pack howitzers). The men who had to lug, push, and drag these supporting arms over the miles of broken ground, across two major streams, the Matanikau and the Lunga, and through heavy underbrush, might have had another name for their commander's path to supposed glory.

General Vandegrift knew the Japanese were going to attack. Patrols an reconnaissance flights had clearly indicated the push would be from the west, where the enemy reinforcements had landed. The American commander changed his dispositions accordingly. There were Japanese troops east of the perimeter, too, but not in any significant strength. The new infantry regiment, the 164th, reinforced by Marine special weapons units, was put into the line to hold the eastern flank along 6,600 yards, curving inland to join up with the 7th Marines near Edson's Ridge. The 7th held 2,500 yards from the ridge to the Lunga. From the Lunga, the 1st Marines had a 3,500-yard sector of jungle running west to the point where the line curved back to the beach again in the 5th Marines' sector. Since the attack was expected from the west, the 3d Battalions of each of the 1st and 7th Marines held a strong outpost position forward of the 5th Marines' lines along the east bank of the Matanikau.

to be continued.


Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Maj. Harold W. Bauer

Maj Harold W. Bauer, VMF-212 commander, here a captain, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor after being lost during a scramble with Japanese aircraft over Guadalcanal.
Department of Defense (USMC) Photo 410772

Blood Is Thicker Than Water: Medal of Honor Marine aviators

Two other Marine aviators awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism and intrepidity in the air were Capt Jefferson J. DeBlanc, left, and Maj Robert E. Galer, right.

Department of Defense (USMC) Photos 304183 and 302980

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Photo of the Day

Let me count the ways ...

Let's continue to thank our troops
by sending them a postcard
every time we're here.
And much thanx to Xerox as well.

Virgie Bell's View: Tips For Jane

I finally heard the wisdom of Hanoi Jane, and guess what? She blames our military for millions of deaths all over the world. She also had at least one spitter in her sorry lot of protesters.

You know what her group needs to do before they have another protest? First of all, they could do what all of the other commie bunches do all over the world. They furnish you the money for this protest. Being such an All- American sport, I'm going to try to help these worthies.

Jane, honey, get a script. You know how hard it is for you to string three words together without one, and you should get a new cause. Cute is so over in your life, so you’re going to have to resort to smart and informative.

You should also do everything in your power to keep out the protestors on stilts. You know the one in the clown suit with the flower on the shoulder? The one that shot out water. It’s so hard for old unimaginative me to take him seriously on any issue. Does he know? I mean about the war on terror?

Janie, we are a different country than we were during Vietnam. This is no longer the Age of Aquarius. Hippy stuff is out. Support the troops is in.

OK, next tip. You need to get a different cast. Or what ever you call them. We finally saw Sean Penn when he received his Oscar. That was with makeup, spangles and all. You're going to have to have makeup, honey. If you use star power, you are going to look star power. Your audience is much older now, and we don't like to be reminded how it has affected our looks. Your bunch depressed the heck out of me.

I guess in my mind you are still Barbarella. Well you shot that to heck along with my own self image. I never looked like Barbarella. So where does that leave me and others like me? I sit in a snit when I watch the gals who only have to lose weight to be happy. No one sends you seven meals a week to reverse getting old. So for gosh sakes, have a little decency . It’s enough that we are dropping like flies without looking like a fly.

OK, Tom What’s His Name needs to do another block buster movie. He can just go so far as Mr. Sarandon. In the last movie I saw of Susan’s, she went over a cliff. I don't go to movies much anymore.

And one last piece of advice. No spitting on our military. We like to feel we have come further than that as a nation. How about you parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in new spiffy suits, each of you in perfect goose-step?

As a last resort dear Jane. Go right ahead and get that face lift. I know you promised not to have any work done, but you gave in on the boob job. Just a nip and tuck here and there. Or as a very last resort, you might try to get the part playing Cindy Sheehan. I had thought Streisand, but you could do it -- it wouldn’t be much of a stretch.

I’m sure we will have this little tip chat again. After all, there will always be wars. God’s word, not mine. So you can always protest, but, please, for the sake of those poor people who have to hear about it, make it worth watching.

I will forever be found yours truly and I SUPPORT THE TROOPS.

Virgie Bell's View: You Can Count On The 'Crazies'

I read in this week’s Time magazine that we lost more people in an hour’s time during some of the battles of World War II than we did when we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. I can’t see what this information has to do with anything, other than it seems to be some sort of litmus test.

A Los Angeles newspaper calls the attack on our country on 9/11 a “day of infamy.” No more than a mosquito bite compared to other historic attacks. I may be unreasonable in my view, but I consider it much more than a mosquito bite.

You can always count on the crazies to give their two bits as long as it’s against everything for America and absolutely anything for the enemies of the United States. I feel like those lunatics are hurting the new majority in our Capital. It’s one thing to be against the war, but it’s an entirely different thing to be against our troops.

They are trying everything to cut funding for the troops, something that even as I report this, I have a hard time believing. What madness, what betrayal. But there you go. No one ever mentions that Libya surrendered without a shot being fired during all of this misbegotten war, nor that Gadhafi surrendered himself about five seconds after our troops pulled Saddam out of his spider hole.

I know we were still in the sanction stage with Libya, but I remember when President Reagan dropped a bomb on Moammar Gadhafi, killing one granddaughter. Libya was responsible for the deaths of many people who were riding in a commercial flight over Scotland.

I have a hard time understanding where anyone one can call 9/11 as insignificant as a mosquito bite. Hang around though. Give a couple of idiots like Ahmadinejad or Hugo Chavez a chance with a nuke, then watch it go.

I’m amazed that I have only now come to realize how breathy Madam Speaker’s voice is. I knew giddy and bouncy, but I sure missed breathy, and to tell you the truth, dear reader, I am ashamed of myself to miss something so extraordinary.

I will pay attention to details in the future, and as always, I will SUPPORT THE TROOPS.

Marine Moms Online continues....

Why Does My Son Want to be A Marine?

The reasons why some young Americans have chosen to become
United States Marines
As told by their mothers, fathers, wives, and other loved ones
their explanations continue....
…I had the same question last year when my daughter left for Parris Island. I wanted her to start college in September, but her heart was telling her something else. Whenever I asked "why", she never gave me a straight answer. This was something she wanted to do, and nothing we said to her would change her mind. Unlike many whose children are full-time active Marines (God bless them), Sarah is now in the Reserves and she has just started her second semester of college. When I look at my daughter, I now see a very mature, self-confident young lady. She loves being a student at an excellent University, but she also loves being a Marine. I am so proud of her for standing up for what she believed she needed to do at this time in her life.

…The Marines was the only branch of the military that didn't try to buy him.

… My son said that he wanted to be a Marine to serve his Country. His recruiter told me that it is a rare thing to hear a recruit give that reason anymore. While I know that the military will take care of him and give him reason to be proud, I also know that it will cause him frustration, misery, and heartache. I also know that he will become a better person because of it.

…Why do they do it? The reasons are as varied as the men and women themselves.

…My son wanted to be a Marine for several reasons. Some of them were to defend what he feels is a great nation. He also felt that other nations deserved our help when they couldn't do their fighting alone. He chose the Marines because they are the best. He agreed that it was kind of a "calling" if you will.

…Our son told us since when he was six years old that he was going to be a Marine. I have no idea where it came from. Through junior high and his first two years in high school he was picked on because he was short and chubby. The kids would laugh when he would talk about becoming a Marine. They were convinced it would never happen. Now he is six foot one and carries himself with such pride and confidence. Who’s laughing now?

…Maybe he just wants an experience of direction, discipline. In today’s world, a kid is highly respected for his/her decision to go military when others are loafing around from job to menial job, and growing to be 28 and still in your house….
...From a marine wife / marine mom: My husband would have told you....your son just wanted to be one of the best!

…I asked my son to help me understand the "whys" of joining the Marines (of all the scariest things he could/has done to date). Of course, I was able to pooh-pooh every reason. Some are actually laughable! I read it often as a reminder of his decision although I still struggle to understand. I really doubt I ever will. But, as his mother, I support him. The following are her son’s words written to this mom as to why he wants to be a Marine: 1) I’ll have a ton of pride; 2) It will ready me for a police officer position when I return to civilian life; 3) I’m giving back to God and my country; 4) It IS an honorable thing to do; 5) I’ll be in the best shape of my life; 6) I’m glad we took Saddam out of power and that we are trying to fix the middle east; they (our military) need help; 7) My grandpa’s were in the military; 8) Freedom Isn’t Free; 9) They’ll make me a man; 10) There are no negatives in my eyes 11) Kids and citizens will look up to me; 12) I want a sword and to use large guns and grenades; 13) The Marines have the best looking uniforms; 14) I don’t want to sit around while people my own age are fighting a fight that I can easily help out with; 15) I’ll learn martial arts; 16) I’ll make life long friends; 17) I don’t want to get too old and one day say, “I wish I would have followed my gut.” You have to be tough to be a Marine and I think he was trying to prove it to himself that he could do it.

…Some of their reasons are very personal or feelings that they cannot put into words.

…My son joined the Marines because it gave him Purpose, Education, and a Direction in his young life that most 18 year olds don't have. College wasn't for him; trade school just seemed like more stuff. I asked him that question, "Why?" He said, "If I don't, who will?" He said, "Americans stand behind the flag, Mom, I want to stand in front of it. I want to keep those fu.... terrorists so busy over there that they won't have time to bomb my home again." My son joined the Marines for me!! I thank God everyday and I surround him in prayer. Doubt the doubt... fear not for God has a plan for your son.
…I honestly and truly don't know where he got the initiative to become a Marine. I can only say it had to be a calling. I guess that's why they are called "The Few, The Proud."

…My son doesn't look forward to going to war but does so willingly because he'd rather keep the fight over there than have them bring it to our shores where it could be his family caught in the middle. He was deeply moved by September 11, although he doesn't feel a vengeance, but he does feel we need to stand up to anyone who would seek to destroy our country or her people. He has read enough and researched enough to believe that if our military isn't successful and our government waivers in its stance to defeat terrorism, then we're in for unimaginable trouble as the terrorists will see it as a victory and they will continue to step up their agenda to rid the world of what they call, infidels -- basically everyone who isn't Muslim. Therefore, he is ready to do his part to stop these radicals -- just as it took many brave young men to stop Hitler and his desire to rid the world of those he labeled undesirable. In addition to all of this, my son wanted to do something to make himself proud and for us to be proud of him (something we've always been). He didn't want to be the status quo like most of the kids he'd gone to school with or even the older crowd he knew who just lived from day to day with no real purpose or direction in their lives . . . he could see how easy it would be to fall into that same trap, so the Marine Corps was a way to set himself apart from the crowd. He is very proud of what he's accomplished and the man he's becoming and he knows the Corps has helped him to be the person he is today -- his eyes have been opened to so much that he probably would've continued to take for granted or just simply overlooked if he'd stayed home.

…I'm sure it’s different for everyone. I have 3 sons and 1 daughter. My youngest son is our Marine. I have worked for several years at a high school and have seen many young men and women choose to join various branches of the military. Some join to get the benefits of training and money for education, others to stay out of trouble they were heading into, some because they have family members who've served before them, some for the excitement they think it offers, others because they don't really have a family and the military becomes their home and family, others to straighten out their life, some have just dreamed of it since they were a child, others just have a heart of service and a love of their country, some were deeply affected by the events of 911, and for some, all of the above or a combination of several.

….After considerable soul searching on this issue I think he wants to be a Marine because he had no choice. His conscience said he had to enlist and no other option, and there were some, was viable to him. I think his desire to serve was in born and nothing was going to deter it. Many parents, like me, are surprised to find a warrior in their midst but grow to accept it and the extreme pride that goes with it.

…My son knew he wanted to be in the military, but he also wanted to be the best of the best and that's why he chose the Marines. Why else, they train harder, they have to earn it. It's not given to them, and once they are in, the Marines have to do more with less, compared to the other branches.

Much thanks to Diane and Marine Moms Online. Gunz Up will continue to share their thoughts in future posts.