About saying Thank You to a Veteran

About saying Thank You:

… keep the thank you simple. Most veterans enjoy being told ‘thank you for your service’ and then most want to move on to a different topic. They generally do not want to get into old war stories. They do like to talk about their buddies. The most memorable part of military service, the part that you want to remember, is how much and how important the other people in uniform became to you when things got tough. Things being tough or bad didn’t matter so much as long as your buddies were there and were OK.

I’m still in contact with Army buddies that I met way back in 1974. We are fast friends forever.

Army Helmet Veterans
Read this Washington Post story

Iraq … =^( … Sad … A wise man once said … Some Policy OPTIONS

Iraq … =^( … Sad … A wise man once said: If you break it you own it.

Options:

++ Put it out with the other broken stuff. Let someone else haul it away. Don’t look at the stuff until it is gone. It will just break your heart.

++ Try to superglue it back together. It will be uglier than ugly … but … nah, not a good idea.Everything for 800 miles in any direction is a bad neighborhood. Always has been. Always will be.

++ Play Olympian Gods: Hit the mortals with lightning bolts. If they assume that Mount Olympus is really angry then the mortals may play nice. Must be prepared to play God indefinitely. (It’s not like the place has been rebuilt since the last time we played God.) Must assume that mortals that believe that they will become martyrs will need convincing with LOTS of lightning bolts for several decades.

++ Create a ‘No Shit Zone’. This is also playing God. Develop a short list of 10 or less ‘Thou shall/shall not’ for the locals; promise a jobs creation plan for Americans at home (after getting them to work for less) for the endless production of lightning bolts. Besides, Israel has already shown that if you play really rough you can expend all of your lightning rods pretty damn quickly … this could create lots of jobs … although the result will be that we will increase by a factor of 300% the number of young kids that swear that once they grow up then they’ll be back to avenge their family.

No shit: Playing God ain’t what it used to be since the locals got the same weapons that we have. Just wait until China sells them a tactical Iron Dome. Jar Jar Binks … we need you buddy!

God War Asteroids Defense
You can find God at this link.

MOVIE / BOOK REVIEW – ‘Ender’s Game’

MOVIE / BOOK REVIEW – ‘Ender’s Game’

The book is great and the movie was good. If somehow you have not read the book then the movie will be very good. Both are worth the time to read and to see.

MOVIE (2013): This movie is Scifi at its best. This is a fast moving film — it must be fast since it compresses four years of a character’s very busy lifetime into 90 minutes. The main character, Ender Wiggin, complains of needing more sleep (often in the book, and he is just tired in the film).

Backdrop: The world was invaded 50 years prior. This was the ‘First Invasion’. Bizarrely, for some unexplained reason we won. A single hit on a mother ship caused the invasion to unexpectedly stop. Literally the invasion stopped and it is a ‘state secret’ as to why. Joe Average doesn’t seem to have thought about asking why.

Post-war, We realize that the technology of future war takes more imagination and flexibility than an adult mind can muster — so we started recruiting children to become military officers and battle staff cadets at age 10 (age 6 in the book). These are the brightest kids on the planet, kids that can play games. Ender comes from a family of three such brilliant kids; his two older sibling wash out of military training, and the world now depends on him. His sister had too much empathy to be a warrior and his older brother was too quick to anger and had a sadistic streak — both are undesirable qualities in a commander that is expected to prosecute the war to end the war for all time and to save our specie.

Ender is both cynical and skeptical about everything. Ender’s adult trainers work to focus his abilities by isolating him from developing relationships with the other young trainees; his purpose is to be a ‘savior warrior’, not a child with military training. Constantly Ender is put into situations that bring out his survival instincts and tests his will to live. Ender is pared with five other brilliant child warriors; Ender becomes commander in the war games and they become his squadron commanders. There is only one problem: the adults may be misleading them.

>>> SHOULD YOU SEE THIS MOVIE: Yes! It is loud, colorful, and full of realistic technology that the movie’s producers make seem completely real. No cheesiness in this movie. The movie also provides a strong essence of truth: those damned kids on their XBoxes and Sony Playstations may well solve many of the world’s problems if we can connect them to real problemsolving. If you read the book then you will notice many missing subplots and storyline. Get over it. You will like this movie.

BOOK (1985): The book is a fast read despite the number of pages in it. It was written for a teen audience but adults love it. It remains on the ‘recommended reading list’ in many high schools AND within the U.S. military. Do not let the simpleness of the book’s prose fool you. There are many important concepts within its pages — which explains its popularity on military recommended reading lists.

You can commonly find this book on Amazon or on Google as an eBook for $4.

>>> The book differs from the movie in a number of ways. Written in 1985, the book still sees the world in terms of American and Soviet spheres of influence. Russia’s Warsaw Pact has overrun much of Europe and is referred to as the Second Warsaw Pact. World powers cooperate because they must — the external threat is greater … but should the external threat disappear then war between the great powers will resume, and it does by the book’s end. Archaic views now but reality then. All of this is absent in the movie and there is no allusion to any of it.

What is truly amazing is that the author was able to see and to portray a world with embedded technology everywhere and in everything. His view on war in the future is on the brilliant level of Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov. Just one example, tablet computing, interactive computer surfaces and artificial intelligence role-playing games figure prominently throughout the story. So does the existence of a worldwide internet that serves up multimedia. There are also bloggers which exert strong influence over public opinion. The ‘nets’ have supplanted the role of media in its influence.

Ender is a third child. The world has restricted families to only two children. While unwritten, it is implied that genetic selection is being practiced to produce unique children for the future of fighting war. Ender understands that his birth owes its existence for the purpose of becoming a battle staff officer.

At the tender age of 6, Ender is selected to go to military school where he trains to become a military battle staff officer. His older brother and sister were washouts — but they play prominent roles within the subplot by using the worldwide internet to become foreign and domestic policy bloggers. Their goal is create a logical reality which prepares the world for change, and which prepares the world to turn to  them for answers. This will be a challenge as Peter the cruel older brother is just 12, and Valentine the older sister is just 10. Yet they pull it off. Peter and Valentine’s subplot role are not covered at all in the movie … although both make cameo appearances. Within the book Peter has an important role within world affairs by the book’s end and the movie ignores his existence other than showing him as a cruel big brother early on.

Much of the book focuses on the many trials and tribulations of Ender within the military battle school. The movie glosses over this time period and covers it all in perhaps just 10-15 minutes — yet his experiences in the school are some of the best parts of the book. The movie picks up with Peter going to Battle Command school. Within the movie there is a close parallel to the book, although the book lavishly spends time on character development and the movie focuses on developing Ender’s character and just barely.

Read the book. See the movie. You will be pleased.

 

Wierd Dreams – 2012.11.15 – Dearest Rhianna

Just woke from one of the most involved strange dreams ever … and two real winners of dreams visited me last night.

The one that woke me: Rhianna the popular singer was a Russian pop singer and I was the emcee for one of her concerts. Her very jealous boyfriend was there and watching over me closely. There were some songs that I cosang with her. During the dream I fell asleep and I awoke to find that she was having a picnic with the audience down on the auditorium floor.

Once fully awake (but still really asleep and dreaming) I rejoined her at the picnic. She had changed into a nice lumpy sweatshirt. Rhianna asked if I was fully awake and what would I like to do next … so I proposed that we dance … so we did … we waltzed through the auditorium with music blasting, she in her nice lumpy sweatshirt and I haven’t a clue what I was wearing. By the time we finished waltzing she had curlers in her hair. The sight of Rhianna in curlers was the moment that I awoke.

======

My prior dream was just as different. I dreamed that I was back in the Army.

We were in an inner city and our unit was in the wreckage of a large shopping mall. There was another unit with us, a Russian military unit.

We appear to have been working together … but whatever war or battle we were in (which was not part of the dream) appears to have been a lost cause. Our two units bivouacked just outside a former book store within the mall. There were piles of new shiny covered books, and all were in Russian. The Russians and I went through the books, one stack was a recent best seller and we distributed them all to the troops.

Then the order came to evacuate. The Russians were staying put. Our own unit was busy going through all of our equipment and discarding anything which we couldn’t carry. As our unit worked its way down from the rooftop of the mall we came under fire from somewhere outside the mall. I was hit but not down. I awoke from the dream and it was 2:20am in the morning … I couldn’t go back to sleep so I watched several episodes of Harry Dresden on Netflix and finally nodded off again around 4am … then Rhinanna came to visit me.

======

Am not sure why but the Russian language and Russians seem to be a prominent part of my dreams as of late.

Strange World War II Facts … Factoids … Strange things you never learned in school

You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret., and history buff. You would really have to dig deep to get this kind of ringside seat to history:

1. The first German serviceman killed in WW II was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937). The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940); highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

2. The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old: Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. His benefits were later restored by act of Congress.

3. At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced ‘sink us’); the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named ‘Amerika.’ All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. [Actually the 8th Air Force alone suffered about 5,000 more KIA than the entire Marine Corps in WW2.] While completing the required 30 missions, an airman’s chance of being killed was 71%.

5. Generally speaking, there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance, Japanese Ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

6. It was a common practice for fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a big mistake. Tracers had different ballistics, at long range… if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet tracers, instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not cool and something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rates go down.

Here’s something related from 5th SF, Detachment B-52’s Tips of the Trade item #32; “Tracers work both ways”.

7. When allied armies reached the Rhine, the first thing men did was piss in it. This was a pretty universal act from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton had himself photographed pissing in the river.

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but Hitler decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

9. German submarine U-1206 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet…..OMG !!!

10. Among the first ‘Germans’ captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

11. Following a incredible massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the assault on the island. It could have been worse if there had been actual Japanese troops on the island.

12. The last marine killed in WW2 was killed by a can of SPAM. He was on the ground as a POW in Japan when rescue flights dropping food and supplies came over, one package came apart in the air and a stray can of SPAM hit him in the head and he was killed.


Thanks to Rob Roth of the Army Security Agency FB forum for sharing this with me.

Murphy’s Laws of Combat

Murphy’s Laws of Combat
— a collection of wisdom by Howard C. Berkowitz

  • Friendly fire – isn’t.
  • Recoilless rifles – aren’t.
  • Suppressive fires – won’t.
  • You are not Superman; Marines and fighter pilots take note.
  • A sucking chest wound is Nature’s way of telling you to slow down.
  • If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.
  • Try to look unimportant; the enemy may be low on ammo and not want to waste a bullet on you.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, call in an air strike.
  • If you are forward of your position, your artillery will fall short.
  • Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than yourself.
  • Never go to bed with anyone crazier than yourself.
  • Never forget that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.
  • If your attack is going really well, it’s an ambush.
  • The enemy diversion you’re ignoring is their main attack.

 

The enemy invariably attacks on two occasions:

  • when they’re ready.
  • when you’re not.
  • No OPLAN ever survives initial contact.
  • There is no such thing as a perfect plan.
  • Five second fuses always burn three seconds.
  • There is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole. A retreating enemy is probably just falling back and regrouping.

Toy Soldiers – November 8th, 1965

I joined the Army at the end of the Viet Nam war in 1974.

Was still in high school when I joined in January 1974, and entered service on July 5th, 1974.

Viet Nam had been part of the news ever since I started school back in 1962.

Growing up as a child, the war lived on the news each night. We sometimes forget that it wasn’t so long ago that MANY soldiers died daily. I can remember news footage of fighting and always, ALWAYS, images of casualties being hurriedly carried away for aid or for protection.

In late 1964 or early 1965, I remember playing toy soldiers out by the back fence. The neighbor’s flower bed ran along the same fence and she  was out cleaning her garden. When she saw me playing with my plastic green and gray toys she said that her son was a soldier. As we talked she said that her son was also born in February. She promised tthat when he came home we would have a birthday party together.

At the time I was probably 8 or 9.

Her son never came home.  There was no party.

When I joined the Army I always kept him in my thoughts — even though I had never met him. Soldiers and airmen and sailors are us — our children will one day be them.

When Big & Rich came out with their 8th of November (1965) video it brought back many memories of childhood and watching the evening news as I grew up with more than 52,000 dead soldiers passing through my TV screen and into the tears of their families. Sometimes a few. Sometimes many.

Bill Golden 1964-1974
Bill Golden 1964-1974

Finally the time neared when I could make my own decision. Would I become a soldier, or Marine, or would I not.

I joined the Army National Guard in January 1974 and loved it so much (on most days) that I switched to the Army in October 1975 and retired from the Army in April 1996.

I would do it all again.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7EPlqvMAfU&w=420&h=315]

Postscript: I retired from the Army in 1996 while stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Since then I have gone on to start my own company — IntelligenceCareers.com — and have raised my family in Prince William County, Virginia. Life has been good. Life is good because of those willing to embrace “This we’ll defend”.