Archive for the 'Military' Category

This story was originally written by me at our sister site Techography.com June 5th, 2006.  As so many of my work, the original article is no longer in the archives there. I republished it here in May of 2010.  I bring it back around every June as a remembrance to the D-Day Invasion and for those whom have gone before. It’s that time of year again, to bring it back to the front page. The time to Remember. Always, Remember.-BS

Our supporting Naval Fire got us in….without that gunfire we positively could not have crossed the beaches…” Col S. B. Mason Chief of Staff, 1st Division

I mentioned before I owned a picture of that painting. (You can too But mine has more history as I got mine from the now dissolved Navy Aviation Ordnance School out of Oceania, VA.) I received it from my father, a US Naval veteran, at age 7. It has hung on walls in my homes ever since, and in my bedroom as a lad. I never knew that years later I would be inspired to write about those units, that beach, that day. Maybe he did.

Water. My father and uncles told me once that at sea the ship becomes an island, and the water becomes all encompassing.

It surrounds the Landing craft, reminds you of that old poem

“Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink…”

The wind is cold, the spray is miserable. The clothes are soaked through, and the landing craft is pitching and yawing like a kite in a windstorm. The boys vomit from the roller-coaster affects of the seas and smashing waves that jar your teeth out of your head.

The place, is Normandy, the beach is Fox Green.

Welcome to the Invasion

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Managed to get my hands on yet another good SR-71 story this week.

 

Enjoy!

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Most folks know I like Cold War stories here on the blog.

I’ve written quite a few and they are frankly probably the most popular pieces on the site.

I’ve written a couple about the SR-71. Actually, written is rather a strong word. I have republished stories, that have been written or told by the actual men who flew these ridiculously powerful machines. Mostly because I see them floating in cyberspace but never find a good single collection of them. So I enjoy doing it.

I enjoy them, as I have a child like affection for the black metal monster that borders on obsession. My first model was a Blackbird for instance.

So when I came across this story about the SR-71, I couldn’t help but add it to the slowly growing collection here.

Enjoy.

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I wrote this in March of 2012 once it had finally settled in to my brain on the passing of Neptunus Lex. Brother in Arms, Brothers in Ink, Milblogger, and a man I’d like to consider a friend. I think it needs to be reposted as its that time of the year again.

It is Ireland’s sacred duty to send over, every few years, a playwright to save the English theatre from inarticulate glumness.
Kenneth Tynan, Observer, 27 May 1956

We didn’t send him to England. But really, for an Irishman there really isn’t much difference between death and Ireland.

For me, it didn’t really click until this morning.I had an eval with my current employer, I sat in front of my laptop at 4 o clock this morning with my coffee, and on impulse clicked Lex’s blog link from my bookmarks. My nerves akimbo. I wanted some peace.

Over the years the people I have known via websites have waxed and waned. When I first started writing on line back in 1995, there was one other site I visited with regularity. In 2000, there was eight. In 2002 twenty two. In 2007 almost 52.

Now? 17…and of those fully half are inactive links. Its a testament to my love for Lex’s work that I kept him on my book mark list. The others I liked and I keep hoping that they will update. I have been reluctant to remove the inactive ones from my bookmarks for this reason.

As I clicked his link, and the page loaded the hot coffee turned cool against my lips as I was reminded by whisper…he’s gone. His words will not grace us any longer, save for works in days gone by. His thoughts of previous days left to haunt us in the present.

I set my cup down and wondered. This digital snap shots in to our lives. Where will they go? What will happen to them. For many, when the costs come due our families will shut them down, turn off the lights, and our words will vanish in to the ether at some point.

Our words left unread by those in the future whom may read them. It is one advantage our print and media brethren have over us. Our archives are only around as long as someone wishes to pay for it. There are no libraries whom receive our subscriptions, no history scribes whom will hallmark our work and words. It is up to us to find ways to back up these works, save them, and distribute them in some fashion for others to hold dear.

Our children may not come of age knowing our works, or what motivated us without these very lines I type. How we thought and the people we sought to be, in the end are portrayed here, in black and white and sent to you in hi definition on 1,024 x 768 pixels through a OC48 pipe from one coast to another.

Lex is gone. That much is final. His words may one day slip in to obscurity. Like my other blog friend triticale whom we lost in 2007, or Acidman whom we lost in 2006, their websites stand testament to their sentiments, themselves, and their values. Digital monuments.

But one day those digital monuments can and will fail. Companies get sold, servers crash, people move on, costs become exorbitant. For me a culmination of almost two decades of writing belong on two websites…the thought crosses my mind…what will happen if? I have no regular blog partner with keys. My wife has no interest in these things, and no interest in voicing her own ideals. It will simply become like my coffee, cold, and one day to vanish in to the electronic ether.

Maybe I am bleak because a little light has left this world. Because one who continued, with others fell to the way side, to provide us with measured, rational doses of words, wisdom and work. Who shared with us his day to day experiences, struggles and life.

Maybe I am bleak because how many of us, in that former profession, had those narrow misses? Those brief glances in to our future? that feeling that all we knew and had was about to change in a single instance….and once he was past that point he chose to go back to it, willingly, knowing the costs at stake? Only to be snatched at the last possible instance mere feet from safety?

It seems incomprehensible really. But the Banshee does not care about prose, wit, or talent and at some point when she calls to us to warn of us of An Bás, the time to prepare will be over.

I prefer not to think that those engines final whine were the cry of the Banshee for Lex, although fitting it may be.

When An Bás came calling, I choose to think that someone, up there….just wanted a good debriefing on how life is down here these days. And to keep it interesting he picked the best writer we had.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam
May he rest on peace

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The blog is green once again. The quote is changed as it will do so each week this month for something that I feel is witty, applicable or entertaining. Your mileage may vary of course.

A recent conversation reminded me of the dangers of doing my historical work each year on Ireland. We Irish are romantics, we even romanticize our revolutions, and it can be easy to fall sway under the ideology through that silver tongue. I say we, but at the heart of the issue is I am whats usually known as a Plastic Paddy, born in America and accepted by neither. So it is.

My grandfather supported independence, but not the method by which it was attempted or achieved. That’s a serious fence to straddle, especially in Irish politics.  I think due him I am of the same. The methods were brutal, ugly, horrible and little more than terrorism. The basis for the action can be understood, even appreciated, but not the extremes to which it was taken. Having never been in that position myself, I find it hard for me to judge any stronger than that.

No side was correct in the conflict and troubles. Both sides did wrong, gave wrong, and escalated wrong. No side was in the right, and it was all painted in shades of gray.

The cease fires are important. Because only by stepping away from the conflict can we see how far down the path we go in losing our humanity, ability, and basic human concern for our fellow man. If one stays in the furnace too long all they see is fire, and everything needs to burn.

I hope by this way of explanation I have somewhat eased my friends’ mind in regards to my own position, complex though it may seem.

The works I have written that are military in nature and gathered may sometimes seem to support one side, or the other, but its not the case. Rather I am attempting to bring perspective, a chance to view for a moment through another eye as best I can. A glimpse behind the curtain if you will.  The intent is to explain to my fellow Americans that we are not as insulated as we think we are from terrorism, and all it takes is one action, one straw for the camel that we could be thrust in to a similar corner. At which point only studying history such as Ireland do we find peaceful ways out of that corner, without entering the furnace ourselves.

 

 

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With The Armorer finally going dark there aren’t too many folks from the heydey of blogging still around.

 

So whose left?

Well John DuMond of Nobody Move is still writing, and doing so with much more regularity than myself. I’m a frequent lurker there and rarely comment but I still like his work, especially his true crime pieces.

Harvey too, is also still running over at Bad Example. Again I lurk but do not comment often. Mostly because I have a hard time finding time to do much more than quickly read any more with work and school.

Laughing Wolf has been much more creative than I posting quite regularly.

Stephen Sherman aka The Commissar still runs his Ace Pilots page, but his Politburo Diktat is long gone.

Teresa and Technicalities is still alive and kicking

Doc at DocInTheBox also posts occasionally.

T1G of Drunken Wisdom is another sporadic like myself.

EricSWG of StraightWhiteGuy also writes sporadically, and well as always when he does.

The Conservative UAW guy last posted in May.

Nidonemo is still active thankfully.

The Ministry of Minor Perfidy is another who has not posted since May

Slobokan has been silent since April

All of the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers are gone save for myself.

With the exception of a few holdouts such as Blackfive, Grims Hall, This Aint Hell and Murdoc Online most of the old groups are gone.

Since I started writing online back in 1997 I have seen the web undergo a lot of social changes. From mIRC to OTC sites such as Tripod and Geocities, to the MySpace and Blog Heydeys.

All the folks I have listed above, for the vast majority I interact with via Facebook with regularity. They get tired of the spammers, the Chinese hackers, the internet drama, and the “Take this down or we’ll sue you!” crowd.

Its hard to blame them. I’ve been threatened with at least 4 lawsuits in over 15 years of writing on line. I’ve gotten more hate mail than I can shake a stick at. Its one reason I have rarely if ever used my real name online: the fact is there are just some plain old fashion sick people out there.

But I have also met some fabulous people, made great connections. Been introduced to some legends, and people who I consider friends today.

Blogs may be going to the way side, and one day it is entirely possible that this site too may go dark (though I have no immediate plans to do so) but until that time its much like digital cave drawings. People have evolved, maybe not for the better, but their digital social culture has definitely swung towards the instant gratification world of Facebook and G+. Even I use them.

But I can’t put down my keyboard, not entirely. I feel like if I do, a little piece of me might die with it.

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Over at The Armorer’s place they are celebrating their Anniversary of have their web doors open.

Over 10 years, and frankly given how many website’s I have seen come and go that’s pretty impressive.

Calimus and I started blogging back about 1995 under the heading of Techography.com. We had a major database crash in 2005 roughly, and we split the sites by opening this one in 2008 due to a change in focus of my own and what I blog versus the content at Techo.

We’re limping along, but much as The Armorer says, I’m not looking to do anything phenomenal, not that I ever did online. It’s been a hobby for me, and a study in social as I watch how the technological world changes from m-IRC, to forums, to websites, to blogs, to Facebook and Twitter. Watching as the people move from one system to another.

In any event having a website for 10 years is a pretty big deal and should be celebrated accordingly.

Go drop him an “Atta Boy!” will ya?

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Are we on the verge of a second Korean War? Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard to say with North Korea, whose leadership system and propaganda machine portrays their leaders like demigods (Such as his awe-inspiring 11 hole in ones upon playing golf for the first time ever in his entire life…or maybe thats smell inspiring). Predicting North Korea falls in to 2 basic categories:

  • Boating and threatening- This will continue until China reaches from around the curtain and drags them back stage whereupon they smack them in the head while saying “Nice Doggie” until they halt.
  • Hot war – Playtime is over.

I notice a lot of folks from my generation, the so called Generation X, asking “Why are we there? Why are we sticking our nose in it?”

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So we finally heard from the USO

TSO over at This Ain’t Hell spearheaded the way, and enough cant be said for what he did from my point of view, frankly. Milblogging isn’t what it used to be so the fact the he was on the tip of the spear proves the brotherhood, both militarily and internet linked, still exists.  A big thanks nonetheless to everyone who stood up and added a voice. Sure it may be from behind a laptop, but then look at how many folks said nothing. Point made I think.

He got a hold of key individuals at the USO, and found out that it was simply a communication breakdown.

So stand down the war dogs, all is well. I’m glad that this came to a happy conclusion for The Sniper. I always liked his work and have had him on my blog list for a number of years. I just wish I had more time to blog as I used to. Maybe once I finish graduate school I’ll have more of my life back.

 

 

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It’s one of those headlines that, when you type it, you have to read it a second time to make sure you are not hallucinating.

The short version, from my perspective anyway, is that the wars are over. The general, 30 second attention span populace, can now shove their faux affection for veterans in to a broom closet and go back to being peace time advocates for not giving a damn about anything or saving the #2 pencils from rampant extinction.

If there isn’t a t-shirt sale involved then its not of their concern.

In this case an individual at the USO, whom apparently feels their position is one that does not require actual…you know…communication with others….is asking…no demanding that a MilBlogger shut down his entire website.

This isn’t anything new.  Folks and companies attack bloggers with semi regularity because of something we have written or published. Sometimes they succeed in getting their way…sometimes they don’t. I’d say its about 50/50 split in the legal world today regarding overall, but with the overall general public coming to understand that blogging is as much about free speech as it is journalism. We will write things that folks may not like…but that doesn’t make it any less true from our perspective or interpretation. And Court’s are not very big on slapping people around for interpretation of literary licensing, but I digress.

This particular representative of the USO has managed to not only inflame Stolen Valour advocate, and faux soldier investigator TSO over at This Ain’t Hell who has went on an all out offensive to get to the bottom of the mess, they have also stirred up one time Fox commentator, former embedded blogger and book author Laughing Wolf at Blackfive.

It’s been a long time since I have seen the MilBlogger wheels try to turn, and given so many bloggers and MilBloggers have walked away from their websites and gathered around the instant gratification system known as Facebook I can’t help but wonder…much as the old time websites I use to run and mIRC servers that were predominant in the past…has the blog worlds time passed?

For The Sniper’s sake (whom is the accused party in this muck) I hope not, and as such I’m lending my voice to the others by attempting to spread the word regarding this.  Such a request is unreasonable. The USO representative is not dealing with a 13 year old in his mothers basement who is trying to find old Sara Michelle Gellar pictures online. This is a military veteran, with tours in the recent conflicts under his belt, exercising his right to free speech that he damned well earned.

Agree, or disagree with his position, the fact of the matter is he has a right to say it. No more and no less that Jerry Springer and his ilk have their right to portray people as raving lunatics. No more and no less than CNN. No more and no less that someone with a T shirts stating their position on a particular topic. Offense is not a reason for submission…it’s a catalyst for discussion.

And if the USO has a brain in their head, instead of playing footsie with a couple of military vet bloggers and social media they’ll join a roundtable regarding this and deep dive the root of the problem.

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So its finally March. Usually my favorite time of the year.

As you can see I managed to ensure that the website changed to its typical green hue for the occasion, forests of Ireland a backdrop for something I have done on this website for several years: that of sharing some Irish history, Mythology, lore and my own families history with you.

This year has been crazy, and the last several weeks hectic. Last year our March celebration was marred by the loss of longtime friend and fellow MilBlogger Lex.

I can’t promise you this month will be better. There are things moving in m own life that have me as worried as a long tail cat in a room full of rocking chairs, but I digress.

It’s March. There is still snow on the ground. Spring is coming soon as the last vestiges of winter make their way from our lives for this year.

Smile.

Be Happy.

Be Green!

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This is a re-post from our November, 2009 post regarding this week. Other Military bloggers covering today: Blackfive

On November 5th, 1965 the 173rd Airborne Brigade deployed on a Search & Destroy mission in to War Zone “D” north of Bien Hoa. Also involved was the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment ; 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry; and the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Divisions . The name of the operation, ironically, signified the units halfway point in their tour of the Vietnam war.

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I don’t post on 9/11.

I had my say on it a long time ago.

I’ll stay home with my scotch, my memories and my nightmares thanks.

I’d appreciate it if ya’ll would do the same, and remember.

Don’t just remember today either. But remember next week.

Six weeks from now.

Six years from now.

 

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I won’t be on line much this weekend (not that I’m here for any length of time to begin with lately). Frankly its my intent to avoid it as much as I can. I’m sure I won’t be able to resist sending some random inane update via my phone that no one will read. But here’s something that I hope you do read.

Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.  ~Daniel Webster

Are they dead that yet speak louder than we can speak, and a more universal language?  Are they dead that yet act?  Are they dead that yet move upon society and inspire the people with nobler motives and more heroic patriotism?  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays…. The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.  ~Thomas Bailey Aldrich

I have never been able to think of the day as one of mourning; I have never quite been able to feel that half-masted flags were appropriate on Decoration Day.  I have rather felt that the flag should be at the peak, because those whose dying we commemorate rejoiced in seeing it where their valor placed it.  We honor them in a joyous, thankful, triumphant commemoration of what they did.  ~Benjamin Harrison

These heroes are dead.  They died for liberty – they died for us.  They are at rest.  They sleep in the land they made free, under the flag they rendered stainless, under the solemn pines, the sad hemlocks, the tearful willows, and the embracing vines.  They sleep beneath the shadows of the clouds, careless alike of sunshine or of storm, each in the windowless Place of Rest.  Earth may run red with other wars – they are at peace.  In the midst of battle, in the roar of conflict, they found the serenity of death.  I have one sentiment for soldiers living and dead:  cheers for the living; tears for the dead.  ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Perform, then, this one act of remembrance before this Day passes – Remember there is an army of defense and advance that never dies and never surrenders, but is increasingly recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit and from the generations of American youth.  ~W.J. Cameron

 

So when ya’ll pop that first beer, throw on the first burger. Before your family takes the first step out the door upon their weekend, take a moment….even if it is just a single  moment to remember that the freedom you are supposed to experience this weekend was bought, paid for in full, by another’s willingness to sacrifice his and or her self for a cause bigger than all of us: that of freedom for a nation.

Tears for our fallen. Cheers for the Living. From my house to my brothers and sisters in arms and my friends across the country…

Have a happy and safe Memorial Day.

We want to see you again come Tuesday.

Wikipedia: A room is any distinguishable space within a structure.

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I consider anyone whom has let me and mine sleep at their house, fed me, shown me the local sights in their area and effectively treat me like family a friend.

Which is to say I consider Blake Powers a friend. Through the years we have passed E-mails, occasional telephone calls and sworn we will have to get together again but the timing is always bad.

Now we have another reason to get together and host a couple of jars.

See Blake has finally published his book regarding his military embed time. You can find a copy here that will not only help Blake but also help with his pet military assistance project Cooking with The Troops.

As DBS rightly points out Blake isn’t in to advertising. But thats what we’re for right? ;)

So if you get a chance, pick up a copy of the book. It will be well worth your time, and a good read.

Consider this a strong recommendation from yours truly the “book snob”.

 

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The unbearable lightness of Lex…

For the last several years literally hundreds of us have been greeted with that banner, repeatedly.

Whom can forget the infamous “pink” Hornet?

For many of us we awoke and found those words painful this morning.

And thats not how he would have wanted it. Miles apart the modern world of technology has brought us close.

I’ll be holding a Cyber Wake here. All comers are welcome, for no one should drink alone.

I will open comments to the world for the night, for us to share stories of the indomitable Lex and hold as close to a wake as was possible with those of us who found him more than just a man, a pilot, or a Milblogger..but a friend.

Officially I’ll unlock comments starting at 18:00 Central Standard Time.

Unofficially, let this post start the works.
Let the stories, links, music and words flow freely and let the dancing begin.

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Adde gubernandi studivm: pervenit in astra – et ponum caelo coniunxit.

Then, too, the pilot’s care: the stars are scaled, and the sky with ocean joined

If only we could all be so lucky, as to die doing what we love.

image

 

A video, of Lex doing what he loved

Untitled from Nep Lex on Vimeo.

 

For Lex in a lighter time, try his golf swing.

Click the Jump for others blogging on Lex

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The Armorer is taking a break. Possibly a permanent one.

And he’s right. As is evidenced here hiatuses typically kill blogs. Even those that have two bloggers. Unfortunately as you may have noticed only one of us has shown up for duty lately and the other is swamped under work. The former is just treading water himself as his career has taken off in the last three months.

Good things and bad things.

The good news is The Armorer is not shutting down. Personally, given the mans occasional pontifications, I doubt he will be able to completely walk away. However given the disenchantment many of us whom I think I can say are relatively middle of the road I can see how politics, and the world in general would grind us to the point that we find our selves spitting at the wind. The spammers, and fickle nature of some commenter’s can play in to that as well.

Well, more he than I. I don’t think I could buy a regular commenter around here as of late.

That said, we aren’t going away. Neither is he. The doors remain open. Volunteers are always welcome to write here. He has his own staff.

As for myself, it seems like I’m watching another ship leave the harbor. Folks are moving on, as they did years ago when Calimus and I first started Techography.

The more things change. The more they stay the same.

However I can not allow him to close that door without saying thanks. The Armorer opened his home, and his armory to me on several occasions. He has put up with my incoherent rambling e-mails on several occasions, and even furnished cold frosty adult beverages. Insofar as blogging goes he and The Commissar (when he still blogged as such) both showed much kindness and politeness to a web writer who was trying to adapt to the changing format of the Internet.

The Internet has much discourse, but little in the way of civility. He may walk away, but he deserves to know that he furnished one of last bastions of reasonable discourse that I am aware of on line. And for that he deserves a salute.