Dear Senator McCain

Mr. McCain:

I voted for you. I convinced my father and my stepmother to vote for you. I tried to tell everyone I knew that they needed to vote for you. I come from a family with a long military history; in my immediate family, my father served in the Navy. My brother serves now in the Army. I would have served, but I turn 35 in less than a month and wouldn’t be able to ship out that fast – the end of DADT didn’t come quickly enough for me.

Imagine my irritation upon hearing that you support military intervention in Syria.

Now imagine my absolute horror upon hearing that you had the temerity to call General Martin Dempsey “disingenuous” because he’s trying to warn you against said military intervention.

I am absolutely flabbergasted that you would support a strike against a strong ally of both Iran and Russia. Even more than that, I am appalled that you would support aiding the Al Qaeda-aligned rebels who would benefit from this. None of this is to mention the fact that Assad has promised that if America strikes, Syria will start firing missiles at Israel. General Dempsey was right – you haven’t thought this through.

How would we feel if Mexico decided to invade the Southwestern US to stop the death penalty from being carried out because they determined that it was a “crime against humanity”? I understand that the details may be different – Syrian WMDs are killing children. The principal, however, is the same. We are about to target a sovereign nation that is embroiled in a civil war. Not you nor anyone else can promise that civilians won’t become collateral damage if we do strike. If any other nation determined that anything we did was a crime against humanity and invaded OUR soil, even if just with airstrikes, you would (righteously) be beside yourself. You would insist that we and all of our allies hit back with such force that they’d never consider it again.

We cannot win this. Neither the Assad regime nor the terrorist-backed-and-funded rebellion can ever be trusted, and we damn sure cannot afford war with either Iran or Russia. I really don’t want to hear that we would only be carrying out “limited stand-off strikes” – once we get involved, we’ll end up being dragged straight to hell. You say now that it would only be limited, but history tells us a different story. You fought in Vietnam. You should know better.

I appreciate your military service, but as a senator, you’re arrogant, lazy, and outrageously disrespectful. I have never in my life been more embarrassed of any of my representatives as I am of you now. General Dempsey has DECADES of education, training, and experience. He has more understanding of the situation in his little finger than you have in your entire life.

I do hope you’re not planning to run again. If I have to run against you myself, I will see to it that you are replaced in the next election. I am ashamed of you and your behavior of late.

Sincerely,

Mel

PS: if I can sit for 10 hours a day answering the most boring phone calls in creation, I’m pretty sure you can put your damned phone down and pay attention to a three-hour hearing about the possibility of my family going to war. Grow up.

The Last Full Measure

In your city, it’s been eleven years since a firefighter was killed in the line of duty. Your department is busy, but you are good at what you do and it’s rare to see one of your own die in service.

A week ago, the unthinkable happened. Now you’re burying your brother.

You aren’t used to standing at attention for long periods. It’s been a long time since you did that. Three minutes doesn’t sound like much until you have to hold a sharp salute for that long. You didn’t even want to think about it because you didn’t want to face reality.

You’re called to attention. You snap to. Heels together. Feet planted at a 45-degree angle. Knees slightly bent. Shoulders back. Chest out. Hands closed, thumbs lined up with the seams of your trousers. You’ve been trained by the military, so you can assume that position without thinking.

“Pre-sent…ARMS!”

Four-count up; open your right hand as you bring it to your eyebrow. Keep your hand perfectly bladed. Straight line from your elbow to the tips of your fingers. Upper arm at a 90-degree angle to your body. Don’t waver, no matter how tired your arm may be. If, God forbid, a tear makes its way down your face, it must go unattended. Your muscles are screaming. Do not break your salute.

“Order…ARMS!”

Four-count. Drop your hand slowly, closing it again when it returns to your side. Hike to your rig, already parked in position for the procession. When you get in, you talk and joke a little bit to try and take your mind off of the gravity of what you’re doing; you do it every day after rough calls so it’s second nature by now. This isn’t the movies – you sit and wait 45 minutes for the procession to begin. After 20 minutes you thank God that the techs fixed your air conditioning yesterday.

The procession winds its way through the city. The entire route is lined with people. It seems as if the city has emptied to pay their respects. You didn’t know that so many still cared. This isn’t a parade, they told you, but you can’t help it. There are kids in the crowd. You wave back. At every intersection closed to make way there is a fire unit, its members lined up beside their rigs. Police squads, even the ones normally off duty during daylight hours, are crisply lined up along the route, standing and saluting your brother.

At the end of his final tour, you line up with your brothers and sisters for a long time, patiently waiting for everyone in the procession to arrive. His flag-draped casket is lowered from the engine. The captain calls everyone to attention.

“Pre-sent…ARMS!”

Four-count up. Hold it. God, it’s hot. My buddy would be laughing and calling me an pansy right now if he were with me.

“Order…ARMS!”

Four-count down.

The bell tolls 333 – three rings of the bell three times.

“Ceremony…REST!”

You relax. The honor guard folds the flag. You see his young wife stunned to the point of being nearly expressionless. You think about how brutally unfair it is to her. You think about what an amazing father he would have made. You silently berate God as the flag is presented. Why him? Why now? He’s too young!

Then you realize: there is never an acceptable time. Ten years? Twenty years? It would still hurt in ways that you don’t even want to imagine. Why him? Because he was a good man willing to put himself in harm’s way to try to make the world a better place.

It’s going to hurt. There is no way to stop that, but you know that your hurt is nothing compared to his wife, parents, and family. There is no way to stop the pain. You know that death is a part of life, but you can’t stop it from hurting – and you know you shouldn’t try.

A lone bagpiper begins the strains of “Amazing Grace.” After one verse, the full pipes and drums join in. You tell yourself to hold it together. When the full corps falls silent the lone piper, still playing, walks away, the fading cry of a familiar hymn echoing through the silence.

You hear the last call. You pretend you aren’t affected. The dispatcher – whom you know personally – calls him by name three times, then calls his final resting place by its address, and you wonder how he does it without losing his vocal cadence. The dispatcher calls the address of the cemetery and announces that your brother’s resting place is exactly where you are standing.

“Atten-TION!”

Snap to.

“Pre-sent….ARMS!”

Four-count up. The bugler plays Taps. This is where you always lose it – at every military and police memorial you have attended in uniform, tears always begin spilling down your face at this part. Today is no exception. Don’t move. Hold your salute, no matter what.

“Order….ARMS!”

Four-count down.

“Dis-MISSED!”

As you walk back to the rig to return to the station, you suddenly feel a pang of desperation. You’re leaving him here. The finality hits you in a way it hadn’t before. You remember when you tripped over your own two feet one night and bit gravel, then heard his voice behind you chuckling just before he ran to your side and playfully did a mock patient assessment, saying, “don’t worry, I’m here to help!” Then he pulled you to your feet and clapped you on the shoulder. He didn’t have to ask if you were okay, because he knew from experience that even if you were hurt, you wouldn’t have admitted it.

With that happy memory, you walk to the rig without looking back. In 48 hours you’ll be back, and you’ll wish he was there. You still have all your other brothers and sisters with you. You’ll carry each other. You’ll never forget his promise, no matter what the cost, to pay the price. You silently make the same promise.

Roseanne Barr: American Idiot

When I was a kid we used to watch the show Roseanne. The first few seasons were absolutely hysterical. Once it got into the gay marriage mess my mother wouldn’t let us watch it anymore, but I remember some of the funniest stuff from that show. Sure, the family in the show was outrageously dysfunctional, but by the time Roseanne Barr had her own show that wasn’t anything new.

Roseanne is up to other things these days. I made such an impression on her that she blocked me on Twitter; the only way I can see her idiotic tweets now is if the Twitchy team posts them. Today, they posted one of the most outrageous things she could have possibly said. I was pissed off enough when she waded into the “hate chicken” debate.

Today, though, she told the wife of a US Naval officer that she was living “on the dole.”

Yeah. I just about spewed my nice chianti all over my computer screen.

She didn’t stop there, though. She continued, “so you are not on military retirement or socialized medicine or the government dole in any way?” THEN, she wrapped up by saying, “t party is another word 4 ppl employed by the military who want to see the social safety net dismantled so they can b assured of their gov$.”

I tend to watch my language here, but I’m gonna say it…that cock-juggling thundercunt can kiss my military family’s collective ass. I’m a Navy brat. I even remember all of the ships my father served aboard. Were the Navy to accept me now, none of the pranks would work on me because I was raised on stories of them. In real life, I tend to have a pretty foul mouth – not just because I was a corrections officer, but my dad was a tin can sailor, from the days when women weren’t on ships yet and there was no such thing as a harassment complaint. My father is extremely intelligent, but when he and I get going we could make today’s sailors faint. My brother is still in the Army and, if I can get a waiver for my missing gallbladder, eventually I’ll be joining him. Many of our friends have either died serving this country or come back with serious injuries, and not a damn one of them has complained about what their lives have turned into.

Roseanne has no spine. She has no clue what sacrifice those men and women make to serve their country. That is the main reason why she would accuse them all of being “tea partiers on the dole” and claim that they’re “trying to destroy the social safety net to protect their own money”. That she would even think that is an outrage – that she’d say it publicly is unforgivable.

So, Roseanne, block us all you want, but there is no way in hell you’d make it in showbiz now. Nobody would watch your drivel. Even the liberals in the military would turn off the TV before watching you.

Oh, and by the way…you’re welcome, you colossal bitch.

You Don’t Like Ron Paul? WARMONGER!

Since writing my missive about why I cannot stand Ron Paul, I’ve been engaged by a group of drooling lunatics who have all called me the same thing:

WARMONGER.

They’ve called me other things, too…sick, brainless, idiot, moron, delusional. I’ve been told that I need to get help. Not one of them has produced a shred of evidence to support most of their claims. They cite op-ed websites that ignore evidence and fail to ask certain questions. The most irritating part of all is when some of these people wave the “gay rights” issue under my nose, claiming that Paul is all for gay rights (actually, he isn’t, and claiming he is is absolutely insulting).

I’ve had an ongoing back-and-forth with Twitter Paulian @hortulanus94 about why I believe Paul is dangerous, and the guy has insulted me at every turn. After he called me a warmonger several times, I asked him to define the term. This was what he said: “Warmngering is an obsession and fascination with war that is excused by false reasons that the government makes up for gains.”

They come across as outrageously self-righteous. It is unfortunate that they are so ignorant.

Paul and his followers (including semi-famous conscientious objector Aidan Delgado, who was caught telling lies to the NY Times and later called on it) claim that we are where we’re at because of “blowback”. Blowback is intelligence parlance that basically defines unintended repercussions befalling the citizenry of a nation engaged in covert operations. They claim that the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis was blowback from the 1953 CIA operation that deposed Iranian PM Mohammad Mosaddegh; on that alone, I call BS. Mosaddegh was actually quite Westernized – he was educated in France and Switzerland. He was very much like the Shah who replaced him. It was the influence of Western culture – not blowback from the 1953 coup – that deposed the Shah. The Shahs and the Ayatollahs had clashed for nearly a century before the 1977 uprising, and every time they went at loggerheads it was the Ayatollahs and their followers screaming that Western culture was destroying traditional Islamic culture (Sharia). That uprising was a long time coming. Sorry, guys…Paul doesn’t know his history, and neither do you.

The next thing they point out is Iraq. In 1979, we became buddies with Saddam Hussein because he stood against Iran. We were allied with the dictator all the way up until 1990, when he invaded Kuwait. The Saudi king approached the US with a request: help us drive him back into his own country. They only had one condition, and that was that we not kill Saddam. We supported his war against Iran. Then, when he took it too far, we said enough is enough – go home and stay there. We didn’t occupy Iraq. We made him sign terms of surrender, but all of the terms were limited to weapons of mass destruction (which we know he had), militarization and no-fly zones. He was allowed to remain in control of his own country. When he refused for eight full years to allow inspectors into the country to prove he didn’t have WMD’s (and made multiple overtures that he did have them), we again said enough is enough. We took him out of power, helped the Iraqi people rebuild their country, and we let his own people try, convict and execute him.

The only place where blowback can possibly exist is Afghanistan. Even that is a stretch. During the late 1980’s, Texas congressman Charlie Wilson pushed for a covert operation that armed and funded the mujahideen in Afghanistan. They had been fighting a losing battle to push the Soviets out of their country, and were paying an extremely high price. Finally, armed to the teeth and trained, they were able to reclaim their country and the Soviets went home. Rather than meddle in their affairs, we left and allowed them to run their own country. What rose up was the Taliban. This was where Osama Bin Laden was trained in the way of war. Then, when his home country refused his offer for help and instead asked us to send Saddam packing, Osama got his knickers in a twist. He hated the Western world anyway – now he had a reason to strike back. (Again I remind you that we’re talking about a guy who believed that drinking chilled water, eating with your left hand, and enjoying any form of music was a sin punishable by death.)

Muslim jihadists believe it is their destiny to rule the world. Most recently, Europe has seen a surge of protesting by enraged Muslims who literally call for the slaughter of those who merely insult Islam. This belief and everything that is going on now goes all the way back to the founding of America. Shortly after we wrapped up the Revolutionary War, pirates from the Sharia-led “Barbary States” (comprised of most of the nations ruled by the Ottoman Empire) began attacking American merchant ships and coastal towns and hamlets demanding that we pay a regular tribute. If no tribute was paid, hostages would be taken. Our leadership paid tribute for years, with the amount steadily rising annually. Thomas Jefferson led a steady dissent to paying tribute; during his work negotiating with the envoy of the Pasha of Tripoli, he wrote this to John Jay: “It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.”

As soon as Jefferson became president, he stopped paying tribute. The Pasha immediately declared war. After a year or two of bickering, the Pasha captured the USS Philadelphia and anchored her in the bay to use against US ships; war became official at this point, whereupon the first US Marines stormed the ship and burned it so the Pasha couldn’t use it.

History goes back quite a long way. Much further than what the Paulians like to quote. They have so little depth to their argument that I can’t even get my feet wet with them. The final insult is this video. Click on it and watch. I had already seen it when the aforementioned Twitter user sent it to me – and he keeps sending it to me as if watching it again might somehow change my mind.

It angered me from the very first time I saw it. Why? The part where Aidan Delgado says, “if Americans actually listened to the veterans that they claim to respect so much, their attitude would change. But Americans want to honor the veterans in a very cursory way – you know, putting a yellow sticker on their car, having a little parade or a welcome back…” That opening line absolutely infuriated me. My little brother has fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Several of my cousins have gone. MANY of my friends have gone. Two of my friends were killed in action. A handful came back in pieces – limbs missing, shrapnel still in their bodies. Each and every one of them believed in their mission. They became frustrated with a media disinterested in the truth, a public that was being badly misled, and a Congress that sent them to war with rules of engagement that tied their hands behind their proverbial backs.

All of them have enough class to keep their frustration to themselves. Not one of them wanted to go to war – NOT A SINGLE ONE. They went because they believed that it had to be done so that 9/11 would not happen again. None of us is obsessed with war or fighting. There is no romantic view of it to be found among my family and friends. It is degrading and insulting to hear Paulians say what they say.

Another point that Paul and his zombie legions like to spit out is that “71% of all active-military campaign donations have gone to Ron Paul! Listen to the troops!” This is also bullshit, and I’m about to give you two reasons why.

1. The data compiled only lists donors who chose to disclose their employer. That is not a requirement for making a political donation. A number of active-duty military won’t disclose that they’re military.

2. The boast basically claims that 71% of the current troop force is fully behind Paul. This is an outright lie, one on the level with liberals in a way that should be embarrassing. A pretty sizable portion of our troops don’t give a single dime to political campaigns at all, many of them because they can’t afford it, others because they just don’t want to get involved on that level.

When I pointed out to my Twitter stalker that not a single one of my military relatives or friends agreed with Paul on his outrageously isolationist beliefs, this was his response: “Since 1979 blowback has had it’s consequences. It does exist. It doesn’t matter what your soldier friends say.” In other words, “listen to the troops! Not those ones, THESE ones!”

The Fight Continues

The news from Afghanistan came over my cell phone at around 0300 AZ time: 31 Americans, including at least 20 operators from SEAL Team 6, were killed when Taliban insurgents shot down a Chinook helicopter in Eastern Afghanistan. The exact location still has not been made public.

A handful of my friends, including two SEALs, are currently deployed in Afghanistan, so my friends and I here in the US are a tad nervous to hear from them and be sure that they’re okay. When something like this happens it usually takes time for the facts to trickle out, but we’ll keep you all posted.

Today is being called the darkest day for US special forces since the start of the war in Afghanistan. Keep the families of those lost in your prayers. Keep the ones still fighting in your prayers as well, and when they come home, thank them. We all owe them more than we can ever repay.

Til the Last Shot’s Fired

Tyler Prewitt was the kind of kid everyone loved. I didn’t go to school with him – I went to church with him. He and his best friend Jeremy were always into something, whether it was playing a prank or trying to do something nice for someone covertly. He, like my brother, joined the Army right after 9/11 out of a desire to fight for our country. I didn’t hear about it until after he’d left. I knew his older brothers and I didn’t think this was something Tyler was likely to do.

I was even more stunned when, in September of 2004, I got the message that he’d been killed in Iraq. He was his unit’s medic. His humvee had been hit by an IED; he calmly directed his fellow soldiers on how to care for his badly mangled leg and was airlifted out in good condition. During transport a piece of debris from the wound formed an embolism (it lodged in multiple blood vessels in his lungs), choking off the oxygenated blood supply to his brain. By the time he arrived in Landstuhl, Germany, he was braindead. His mother and one of his brothers were able to get to his side before he passed. In death, Tyler was able to continue saving lives – his organs were donated at his previous request.

Just eight months later I was living with a police officer and got up early on my day off to attend Memorial Day services at the National Memorial Cemetery where Tyler had been laid to rest. My roommate asked why I was up so early. I figured she knew; I gave her a quizzical look and said, “it’s Memorial Day. I’m going to military services.” I was stunned when she told me she had no idea what Memorial Day was about…so much so that I couldn’t avoid offending her with my jaw-drop and comment: “how the hell could you not know what today is about?”

She’s not the only one. Sadly, I’m afraid that at least half of the kids in today’s public schools are completely unaware why we have tomorrow off of work and school. As we move forward more and more people forget that we are remembering the men and women who paid for our freedom with their very lives. I’ve noticed something in our culture, though; every single offering of the Country Music Industry, live shows like the CMA’s, there is always a very respectful tribute to the troops.

I can’t remember the last time the Grammy Awards held a tribute to our troops, whether past or present.

That’s very telling about our culture. Self-sacrifice is not a natural thing. We are hardwired to fight to live, no matter how badly wounded or sick we become. The reason why the sacrifice of so many for the cause of freedom is so foreign is because the vast majority can’t comprehend being willing to die for others. If you compare the respect of those in the Academy of Country Music to mainstream pop, rap, or Hollywood names, you’ll find plenty of differences that go well beyond the music or the fashion. The biggest can be seen in how they treat our fallen heroes. Hollywood barely knows how to pay tribute. Modern pop, rap and rock are too busy being liberal blowhards to consider paying tribute. You’re hard-pressed, though, to find a single country music show that doesn’t include a well-thought tribute and profound respect among the fans.

You will never see this on the Grammys:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqjpG9xYjOc]

Metal pays tribute, too – Disturbed has done incredible work with the USO. Think the MTV VMA’s will use some of the damn good music they’ve written for the troops for a tribute?

Nah. It’d mess up their “war is evil” narrative.

It’s up to us to shape the culture. If we are the culture, then we can change the way things are done. I personally refuse to support any artist who has taken part in anti-war protests or has become too politically active because of the current wars. You won’t find a single album by Springsteen, Bon Jovi, or any rap artists in my collection (and my collection of music is pretty extensive). I also love movies, but you won’t see anything with George Clooney or Sean Penn on my shelf. If an artist, actor or director has disrespected our fallen heroes, I won’t buy their product. We don’t need a massive boycott – just a personal commitment to our troops that we have more respect for them than we do for our own entertainment.

It’s unfortunate that I have to admit my friendship with Tyler had drifted off shortly before he left for the military. I think of the friends and family currently serving every day and hope and pray as hard as I can that I see them again. For those I’ve lost and those who went before them, I thank God that they had the courage to do what so many couldn’t. I also keep my rifle skills fresh so that if I am allowed to one day serve my country, I can ensure that a few more will come home safely.

Standing on Our Own Two Feet

In the past couple of months, I’ve been Aunt Mel pretty well constantly. I’ve gone from playing hero to playing house, playing kid-friendly songs on my guitar, and playing horsie. Aunt Mel briefly became a mountain to climb, then became the rescue crew for a game of, “oh no, I’m falling!” Today, just a tad earlier than expected, my two little grasshoppers – along with my brother and sister-in-law, naturally – started the journey to a duty station in Europe. They were supposed to go to Maryland, but that changed as things frequently do in the military. If Bill Cosby were still doing his remake of “Kids Say the Darndest Things”, he’d have made a small fortune with my niece and nephew. Today my nephew turned one year old, and over the past couple of months we’ve had many conversations (usually consisting of either “da” or me shaking my head and going, “aaaaahhhhh!” while he laughs at me). My niece will be three in July. She’s been walking for a while; my nephew, however, took his first real steps during their time with us and eventually began walking around all on his own. It was pretty cool when one of his early independent walking streaks was directly towards me (and the phone in my hand).

I love my brother and his sense of honor in serving our country. I love my sister-in-law for supporting him no matter what. I just wish they weren’t going to mainland Europe.

There are so many things going on right now that make me question whether this country is headed in the right direction. Just in the past week, here in Arizona, two illegal immigrants have committed serious crimes – one shot a police officer, the other allowed his 8-year-old son to play with his handgun and shoot a 2-year-old. The cop killer had been in a California prison and was incorrectly classified before release, so he wasn’t deported. According to US law, he was illegal, therefore not allowed to possess a firearm; that’s not to mention the fact that he was also a convicted felon, so legal or not STILL would not have been allowed to possess a firearm.

The other case saw a man in this country illegally possessing two .22-caliber guns, one handgun and one rifle. The handgun was on the floor next to a stuffed animal when his daughter saw it and thought the gun was a toy as well. It wasn’t until her 8-year-old brother shot her 2-year-old daughter in the face that she realized the gun was very real. The gun’s owner, as an illegal, was not allowed to possess a firearm. All of this happened in the space of a week.

Now, we have President Obama – the Big O, as I refer to him – claiming that the border is secure enough that we can “start the legalization process.” Really? How do you plan to pull this off? How are you going to talk a House Republican majority into going along with it? I promise, if an executive order is issued, you will immediately alienate all of the middle-of-the-road voters who pulled for you in the last election. It’ll also be the quickest way to get every conservative voter who didn’t vote last time to get out and make sure you’re booted out next time.

We still have drophouses being found in Phoenix. We still have massive drug busts going down involving illegals. We still have murders being committed by illegals. We’re talking about an entire community working to hide each other in plain sight and doing far more than washing dishes and picking crops (that’s what the liberals would have us all believe, that these folks are here to do the jobs that Americans supposedly “wouldn’t do”). They’re not just Mexicans, they’re not just from Central and South America. They come from all over. Here in Arizona, however, they happen to primarily be Latino. That’s not racism; it’s plain-and-simple fact. We’re just a few hours’ drive from the Mexican border.

I often wonder what kind of country we’re leaving for the next generation. What will they inherit? A justice system gone from being in crisis to being in shambles? Insurmountable debt that will be a drag on their hopes and dreams? Indoctrination of liberal, altruistic beliefs that charity must be forced and not from the heart? Laws that prevent them from defending themselves?

My nephew didn’t start walking overnight. He’d already taken his first steps before they got here, he’d just never walked without help before. It’s a difficult process; his little legs are still getting used to it. He’ll walk several steps, then fall flat on his butt. Sometimes he gets back up but more often than not he’ll just get on all fours and crawl. He never cries when he falls. He actually laughs. Sometimes he even does a little dance where he sits before crawling toward whoever he was headed for. He doesn’t give up, though. When he decides he wants something he goes for it until it’s in his tiny, slobbery little hands.

I once worked with a guy who had come out of a hardscrabble life. He’d grown up in poverty, resisted pressure from his family to quit school early and get a job to help provide for the family, worked his way through college, and ended up graduating at the top of his class and getting job offers from top-notch companies…all without owing a dime in student loans or taking a single red cent in government funds. He is, to this day, extremely proud of his accomplishments. I can only hope that the spirit that drove him – the true American spirit of standing in the face of adversity – will be absorbed by my niece and nephew. Men like my brother and my friend are willing to do what needs to be done to make this world a better place. Nothing in our Constitution guarantees that the government will be there to make the experience of working toward success easier.

It gives us the freedom to stand on our own two feet.

Geronimo is Down

The road to the custom-built million-dollar fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that housed 9/11 financier and mastermind Osama Bin Laden began sometime in August 2010. For the first time, it has been revealed that Osama refused to allow any phones or computers near him. He fell off the grid, using age-old runners to relay messages rather than give anybody the ability to discover his whereabouts.

The compound? It was built in 2005 – and it’s practically across the street from Pakistan’s military headquarters, far removed from the mountainous area along the border with Afghanistan.

It was Osama’s personal runner that US intelligence officers wanted. The man was known of, but it took forever to find him. Al-Qaeda operatives being held at Guantanamo Bay and other so-called “black sites” gave up a lot of information while being interrogated – Osama’s runner, however, was a subject they were vehement about protecting. So much so that CIA operatives were convinced that if they found this guy, known then as Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, they’d find Osama.

It was a phone call made by the courier to an Al-Qaeda operative being trailed by US intel that finally identified and located him. His real name was Sheikh Abu Ahmed, born in Kuwait, currently holding Pakistani citizenship. They followed him to the compound in Abbottabad. The compound was unlike anything any CIA operative had ever seen before – two security gates, walls of staggered height ranging from seven to eighteen feet – all topped with barbed wire, a security structure and a main structure, and absolutely no telephone or internet lines anywhere near the place. They couldn’t be certain that Osama was inside. What they did know was that an Al-Qaeda operative of very high value was holed up inside. They wanted whoever it was. They hoped it really was Osama.

Navy SEAL Team Six was tapped for the raid. After months of preparation, more than twenty SEALs boarded four helicopters for a surgical strike on the compound on April 24. The entire raid lasted less than forty-five minutes; Abu Ahmed was killed, as was his brother. Osama, codenamed “Geronimo”, was hit by a SEAL bullet just above his left eye. Once his death was confirmed the SEALs communicated that Geronimo was down. Pakistani leaders were not warned about the raid and are now angry, but they have only themselves to blame.

Osama’s body was removed to the USS Carl Vinson in the Arabian Sea where Muslim traditions regarding the preparation of a body were afforded the man who had absolutely zero respect for any other faith and would never have offered anything resembling the same respect. He was wrapped in a white sheet, given a Muslim funeral, and buried at sea in the blackness of the pre-dawn hours. The burial has angered Mideast clerics, who say it was an insult that he was not buried with his head toward Mecca. The reason is simple: we do not want his grave to become a rallying point for jihadists. If I’d had it my way, he’d have been cremated and his ashes strewn across the Arabian Sea to make absolutely certain that his remains could never be recovered by anybody, EVER. But that’s just me.

Contrary to what some would have us believe, this was not solely the work of Barack Obama’s team. Osama’s death is the result of years of work on the part of our military and CIA – and the tools they were finally given, including “enhanced” interrogation techniques and black sites. President Obama wanted to shut down Gitmo and all of the black sites, wanted to end the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, and released classified information about US nuclear defenses. Hopefully now the Democrats see the importance of the PATRIOT Act and other policies put in place after 9/11.

Someday, when my brother and I are retired and watching his grandchildren grow up, I may get to finally hear about his experiences being deployed with Special Forces in Afghanistan. I hope we survive to see it.

Mission (Finally) Accomplished!

The news tonight is almost surreal. According to Fox News, Osama Bin Laden, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and multiple other bombings – including the 1996 bombing of the WTC – is dead. US authorities are in possession of his body and have confirmed that Bin Laden is dead.

He was killed during a firefight with US Special Forces in Pakistan.

With a member of my family serving in the Army as an intel analyst, I am elated that his hard work has helped pay off in such grand fashion.

I might remind our readers that had Gore – not Bush – been in office on 9/11, we never would have gone to Afghanistan. Osama never would have had to run. In the end, we still wouldn’t have him because no Democrat would have had the balls to fight back. Lord bless our troops and their bravery, tonight especially for the Special Forces soldiers who did their job so well. Thank you. Get some rest, boys, you’ve done a tremendous job.

A True American Hero

US Army Major Richard “Dick” Winters (ret.), WWII veteran who led Easy Company, 506th Infantry regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, passed away on January 2. He was just 19 days shy of his 93rd birthday. I didn’t hear about it until late last night, when Yahoo! News posted it. According to other reports, he had battled Parkinson’s disease before his death.

Winters and the men of Easy Company were made famous in the docu-drama Band of Brothers, which has long been my favorite WWII miniseries. I could quote each and every episode. The book that had originally been written by Stephen Ambrose is also one of my favorites. I had not been able to procure a copy of Winters’ missive, “Beyond Band of Brothers,” but I plan on buying it next week and will review it here.

In “Band of Brothers”, Winters described a promise he’d made. He promised God that if he made it through the war, he’d settle down and live a quiet life. He did exactly that. He never mentioned his experiences during the war until Stephen Ambrose asked him to help chronicle Easy Company’s hard fight to reach Germany from France and all of the battles, both won and lost, along the way. Major Winters received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism in taking a series of mortar cannons during the D-Day invasion at Normandy and a movement has sprung up in recent years to upgrade the medal to a Medal of Honor (contrary to popular belief, it is not a “Congressional” award; it is officially simply the Medal of Honor).

Major Winters had asked that his death not be announced publicly until after a private funeral was held. A public funeral is yet to be announced. In the past decade he had been showered with requests for interviews; he often declined and did not think of himself as a hero. The only reason he ever gave interviews to Stephen Ambrose and the Band of Brothers miniseries was because he believed that future generations needed to understand what was given so they could be free.

Rest in peace, sir. Thank Almighty God for you and your willingness to serve.

January 21, 1918 – January 2, 2011