Sunday, April 30, 2006

Still alive, but going nuts

Hey all, Just a quick note to let you know Im still kickin! One final left, 1/2 the house left to laid in the truck, then drive for 10+ hours only to have to unload it in a storage unit since the new house isn't under construction yet!

Yep, me, the princess bride, and our two goofy dogs get to live in our RV while the house is being built... Am I nuts or what?

Talk to you all soon; I am popping in as I get the chance. Blessings to all of you, see you soon!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

MIA or AWOL, I can't decide

Hey folks, I know it's been a while and although I'm sort of a hit and run, or hit or miss poster, I thought I'd give a quick update to the 3 or 4 folks who happen to stumble over here.

Things are greatly in flux out here in the land-O-Rude. I've quit my high paying, low challenging job, sold my house, and am trying to finish my last semester of school (the day after my last final I pack up the truck and move). Needless to say, I'ma bit stressed and swamped, so I haven't been posting or visiting my bloggy friends. Soooo....

I just wanted to let you all know that I will be under the radar for a few weeks (not sure what sort of access I'll have) But I'll pop 'round as soon as I get a chance.

Happy BIrthday to my favorite Cowgirl, somebody keep an eye on her and keep her out of trouble!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Our Duty to Remember

Shayna recently wrote about Eugene and it got her thinking about how sad it is that we, as a nation, tend to forget or overlook those who gave so much. She wished that they would talk more about their experiences in the hopes that the rest of society would be reminded of what they went through and not to forget them.

I wanted to try in some weak attempt, to explain why that probably won’t ever happen. I agree with her; we should be reminded not to forget those who sacrificed so much and gained so little, but the sad fact is that the majority of combat vets won’t talk about it. At least not to just anyone. They’ll talk at length with other combat vets, or tell some of the funny stories to their families; but most won’t open up about the serious times.

My theory about why is rather simple, yet strangely complicated. I know that most vets are very proud of what they did, of their contribution to history, of being part of something important, something historical. But the difficulty lies in that to be proud of that, in some way the vet must be proud of killing; an act that is taught to us from the earliest stages of our life, to be the ultimate sin. Killing another human being is one of the most reprehensible thing anyone can do. Yet the bottom-line job of the military member is to kill.

We desensitize ourselves by making light of it, or even advertising it. “Our job is to kill people and break things.” “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out.” “Killing is our business, and business is good.” None of us really feel that way, but we try and convince ourselves that it’s okay. The training and preparation kicks in during battle and instinct and training take over. There is no time to reflect, but deep down, late at night, especially after the battle, and the fog of war starts to dissipate, we look at ourselves in horror. We don’t want anyone to know the horrible sin we’ve committed; the taking of another human life. Forever silencing the voice of someone’s father/brother/son/mother/sister/daughter/friend. You can’t take that back. But it’s what we do. We have to, or else evil will prevail.

So the combat vet stays mute about it except to another combat vet. Someone who’s been there too; someone who understands. No matter how hard you try, no matter how much you want to understand, to sympathize, to help; you can’t. You cannot fathom the guilt/pride conflict raging within. The combat vet doesn’t want to remember the killing, but it is something that can’t ever be forgotten. Even those “lucky” enough to have never actually killed; the sights, sounds, smells, and touch of combat casualties is every bit as traumatic. As a military member, your job is to inflict pain amongst the enemy, but as you see the aftermath, you question how can civilized, sane people do such things to one another. So you shut it down, you don’t talk about it, you hide it away because if you don’t, you run the risk of seeing the looks of revulsion from those you love. You so desperately want to forget, but you can’t.

There are countless stories out there of combat heroes, whose families have no idea of their bravery. Navy and Air Force Cross recipients, Silver Star recipients who put their medals in a dusty box in some basement or attic. People who did extraordinary things while under fire, but hide them away like forgotten trinkets. I remember reading how John Levitow’s wife, also an Air Force member, didn’t know he had been awarded the Medal of Honor until she studied it during a required Air Force history class. She knew he had served in Viet Nam before they met, but had no idea he was the lowest ranking AF member to be awarded the Nation’s highest military honor. Or of Susan Rescorla finding her husband Rick’s military medals only to have him refuse to let her display them. Rick Rescorla not only was a hero of the Ia Drang Valley in Viet Nam, but he was chief of security for Morgan Stanley and lost his life in the WTC on 9/11, but not before ensuring over 3000 of his charges were evacuated safely.

This is the reason why military members are the last people who want to go to war. We make the sacrifices. We run the risk of being killed or wounded. We run the risk of losing our closest friends. We run the risk of having to kill or maim another human. But we do it when needed. Some may think we rush into wars, but believe me, the vast overall majority of military leaders will only advise military action if all other avenues have failed.

It is not the job f the combat vet to remind society of what they did, it is the responsibility of society to remember the sacrifices of the combat vets and to honor them. The combat vet doesn’t want sympathy. All he wants is acceptance and possibly a thank you. It’s societies job to HONOR them, and to never forget. Don’t pity these heroes, for most of them would do it again even knowing the consequences. Don’t pry or try and understand their silence, respect it. Don’t patronize them, but be their friend. Most of all, don’t forget them; they did what they did for you.


So the lovely Trouble gave me my first tag; I don’t know whether to be happy or embarrassed LOL. Any way, Six Weird Habits might take a while (not because I have to think of them, but rather I have to narrow it down to six!). Anyway, here goes…

1) I still carry my squadron Ram coin everywhere I go; just in case.

2) I count paces when I walk, not all the time, but whenever I’m by myself. 4,596 paces from my quarters to work the last time I was stationed in Korea…

3) I stroke my mustache; been doing it for 24 years (I shaved it off in basic, last time I think!)

4) I collect die cast airplanes and corvettes. I have an entire bookcase at work with nothing but these toys. Oh, and an Aviator Barbie and G.W. Bush Top Gun are also there (long story, thanks Capt. G and Lt. K)

5) I have a photographic memory; most of my family and friends refuse to play Trivial Pursuit or similar games with me.

6) I can quote most of the movie “Better Off Dead”

There you go, six of the not-so-weird things about me; I know some of them are not habits per se, but... I’ll keep the really weird stuff to myself thank you!

So, Cowgirl, Desult, and Barn Goddess; You’re officially tagged, so tell me some weird things about you… 

Friday, April 14, 2006

Let Us Never Forget

Paul Ray Smith. A name that few really know, but one that all of us should remember. It's been a little over three years since he was killed protecting his men in Baghdad. His actions that day earned him the Medal of Honor. Go read the citation if you haven't already. SFC Paul Ray Smith was the epitome of leadership under fire. He was a strict NCO knowing that his troops needed to be highly trained to survive in combat.

SFC Smith embodies the honor and selflessness of our warriors serving today. The majority of those serving today would have done the same thing he did were they in his boots. All of those who have served, and those still serving, deserve our respect, thanks, and most importantly, our rememberance.

God Bless and protect them all.

Thanks to Sgt Hook for his post "Would You Know My Name" who made me remember.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Ben Stein

I've tried several times to write a post about Ben Stein and what he means to me, but I can never get it right. I'm one of those folks who think that most of the Hollywood crowd is a joke, but I respect and enjoy what they do. (when they stay within their area of expertise as I wrote about here) Anyway, Ben is different. He understands what meaning is. I just want to thank him. I want to thank him for making me laugh in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off", and on his show "Win Ben Stein's Money". I want to thank him for his support of the US military. I want to thank him for his service to our country during the Nixon years. Ben, if you're listening, Thank You. You're support, and the support of all who believe, helps keep us going. We can't do it alone.

Ben's article made me think about my life since I've retired from the military. I've often told my wife since that day that I miss being a part of something important, of making a difference in the world. Ben reminded me that I miss my life having meaning. I know there are a lot ways to get that meaning back. I just need to do it. It was easy to have meaning while in uniform; everyday held the pursuit of the greater good. Now, I struggle to find the niche where I can once again contribute. I support the Soldiers/Sailors/Airmen/Marines/Coast Guard; I send packages and volunteer to help deployed spouses keep up with home/landscape duties. I try and pass a little wisdom to the young troops whenever I can. I try and help educate those with no military knowledge. In short, I'm trying to honor those who still serve, and those who've served before us, but honestly, sometimes I need a reminder to do more. It's easy to get caught up in the daily BS of life and lose track of what's really important.

Thanks again Ben, for reminding me to keep on helping where I can.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

She's Back!

For those that ever had the pleasure of reading Right Thinking Girl, you know what a wonderful and talented writer she is. Personally, when she quit blogging, it left a void, a blackhole in my day. I wrote a little about why I liked her writing so much here. I have a pretty good idea why she quit for a while, and like so many others, prayed that things would get better for her. I'm glad she's been able to move forward, but I'll still keep her in my prayers.

I was able to catch a few of her guest articles over at RWN, but it never seemed to be enough to sate my appetite. There's just something about her writing that speaks to me; I can't really explain it. I'm just glad she's back. I always thought she would be back; she's a WRITER, it's as much a part of her as breathing. I'm a reader and I'm glad I'll be able to lose myself in her words yet again.

Welcome home RTG.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Slainte na Gaidheil!

Tomorrow is Tartan Day where all Americans of Scottish descent show off their heritage. I do it every year, getting a little more into it than the last. I started out wearing a tie made from my families Tartan, then added a blazer with my family crest. Is this the year I cause havok at the office by wearing a full kilt? I don't know yet...

Here's a wee bit o my families Scottish history, summarized by the folks at

The (name withheld to protect the innocent) claim to be descended from Crinan, Lord of Atholl, from whom sprang the royal house of Duncan I, the King of the Scots. The (name withheld to protect the innocent) clan is more properly called 'Clan Donnachaidh' from their ancestor Duncan, who was a staunch supporter of Robert the Bruce, and who led the Clan at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The general surname of the clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) was taken from Robert Riach (Grizzled Robert) the clan chief, who was known for his intense loyalty to the Stewarts. Riach was responsible for capturing the murderers of King James I, and was rewarded by the crown for this act by having his lands at Struan erected into a Barony.

The clan was also granted a symbolic memorial by additions to their coat of arms - subsequently the chief of clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) bore as his crest a hand holding an imperial royal crown, and underneath a man in chains, representing the regicide. About a century later, the (name withheld to protect the innocent) family lost the lands of Struan to the Earl of Atholl but the family regained them in 1606.

However in the seventeenth century, after the final defeat of James VII, all (name withheld to protect the innocent) estates were forfeited and the chief of the (name withheld to protect the innocent) clan joined the exiled court in France. To this day the chiefs of the clan (name withheld to protect the innocent) still have the right and privilege of interment in the family burial ground at Struan

Well, I'm sure anyone with a little effort can figure out my last name, but hey, you gotta work for it if you really want to know!

I hope you all have a great Tartan Day tomorrow!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Rock on Fellas!

I got a kick out of this video. Pretty good tune I must say! You can check out their site here.

H/T to Timmer over at Sgt Stryker's

Must Read

Sarah over at Trying to Grok has a link to this article that is a must read. I like the way he thinks...