Friday, December 16, 2005

Going off the air

In hopes of helping out my good friend OPSEC, Operational security.

I've been thinking about this for a while and have decided to take the plunge. So I will still be out there, but I won't be posting anymore. I have met a lot of good blog brothers and sisters out there so stay hearty and blog worthy. I've got other things to do and can't worry about giving too much of what we do away to the enemy through OSINT-- Open Source Intelligence. That's what this is. I haven't given anything away nor have I been told to do this. I just feel that it's time.

Much thanks to Kat, Ala, AF Sis, AB, Frosty and all the rest out there. I will still be floating around.

ATW

Airborne

Monday, November 28, 2005

A friend WIA in Iraq

A friend of mine was wounded in Iraq a few days ago by an IED.

He is all right, lost a lot of skin on one leg and the tendons in his left leg were exposed. He was the only soldier injured in the explosion and his XO has taken command of his battalion. He is on his way back home to rehabilitate.

What sucks is he had just gotten over there, but it could have been much worse.

I ask for your prayers and good thoughts for a good soldie, officer, and friend. LTC Jamie Inman. 3-320 FAR, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A great essay

This was written by the sister of one of our paratroopers, KIA in Iraq in 2004. She wrote it for Veteran's Day, November 11th. Formerly Armistice Day for you History buffs out there. It's a long but a great read.

She's a junior in high school and she gets it, like so many of our citizens do not. I thank god for the youth of this nation. They look and sometimes act like they don't get it, but they do.

Remember SGT Cory Mracek and his sacrifice.

FREEDOM IS RED, WHITE, AND BLUE
By
Heather Mracek

The dictionary defines the word freedom as the condition of being free; the power to act or speak or think without restraints. My definition of freedom is a broken heart draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE. I define freedom this way because freedom is not free.

Freedom is not free. Freedom is dressed in red, white, and blue. Thomas Jefferson said it best when he said, “The trees of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the bloodshed of patriots and tyrants.” How many of us really understand or believe that statement. Do you know what it is like to sleep alone? To be cold? To miss your family? To be unappreciated by your country? Do you know what it is like to lose a loved one or a friend who fought and died for the freedoms that you enjoy every day?

And how many have received an American flag; followed by a 21-gun salute, followed by TAPS? I know that freedom is dressed in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

We have five guaranteed freedoms in the First Amendment. They are freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly and association, and the freedom to petition. Each and every day, I awake in this wonderful land, the United States of America, and I am free. I can go out of the house and not worry about someone killing my family or me because we disagree with our government or a dictator. I can go to school and speak my mind without worrying about getting thrown in jail. Each and every day, we take our freedom for granted unless our freedom has been dressed in red, white, and blue. Then we understand exactly what it means to be truly free.

It is the soldier, not the reporter who has given us freedom of the press. Freedom of the press is a right, but that does not mean that there are not responsibilities that go with it.
Reporters must report information accurately and fairly. Too often reporters only report a part of the story, only the part they want you to know. It may make the story entirely different that it is meant to be. The media has freedom of press, but we have the freedom to check the facts and form our own opinions.

It is the soldier, not the poet who has given us freedom of speech. Poems add a lot to our lives, but in some countries authors are not allowed to express their views. I thank God for our soldiers that we may read poetry as it is written and we may either agree or disagree with different views.

It is the soldier, not the organizer who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights that we enjoy. The United States, more than any other nation, has recognized the importance of this freedom, to safeguard democracy and allow us to grow as a nation. It is also a dangerous right because it means that we can disagree with your government and we may desire to change it. Some people think this freedom gives them the right to vandalize other people’s property and hurt the public. Our freedoms do not mean that we can do anything we want. We must still respect laws and other citizen’s rights

It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protesters to burn the flag. Freedom is RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

According to USA Today that published a poll of high school students, 1 in 3 high school students say the press ought to be more restricted, and even more say the government should approve newspaper stories before readers see them. The survey of 112, 003 students found that 36% believe newspapers should get government approval of stories, 51% say they should be able to publish freely, 13% had no opinion. What this survey confirms is that kids aren’t learning enough about the First Amendment in history, civics, or English classes. It also says much for adults’ attitudes. “ It’s part of our constitution, so it should be part of formal education,” says Jack Dvorak, director of High School Journalism Institute of Indiana University. It also is scary that so many think that this freedom should be lost. True, media sources need to show responsibility in their reporting, but we cannot allow it to be shut down.

The United States Supreme Court in 1989 ruled that burning or defacing the flag is protected free speech. A large majority of students in the USA Today poll surveyed believed that musicians and others should be allowed to express unpopular opinions, but 74% said people shouldn’t be allowed to burn or deface an American flag as a political statement, 75% mistakenly believe it is illegal. I personally do not want to see anyone burn or deface our flag as it means so much to my family, but to take away the freedom to do so would dishonor that casket that came home draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Everyone has the right to religious freedom. This includes the right of thought, conscience, and religion; this includes our right to change our religion or belief. Freedoms of religion allow us to teach, worship, and observe as we please. The First Amendment to the Constitution says Congress shall make respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Nowhere in the first amendment does it say that there should be separation of church and state. Every time I go to church, I think of some of the religious freedoms we are losing because of the zealots who think that separation of church and state is written in the constitution. I want to be able to say under God in the Pledge of Allegiance. I want to pray with a group of friends in school. I want to sing Christmas carols, and I want to pray at graduation. Please remember that coffin draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Freedom is taken for granted by most of us, spit upon by some of us, and cherished by a few. Some of those who cherish freedom are willing to come together to promise to protect this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is a dream of freedom and the right to preserve it. One such person was my brother, Sergeant Cory Ryan Mracek. Cory loved his country. He was a soldier who was proud, had honor and courage. He joined the Army after high school and did his four years. He returned to his home but after September 11, 2001, he knew that his country needed him. He wanted to help in the fight against terror. He was one who joined to accept the price, the calling of having to leave behind everything he loved, to go to a country where people hated him, and all he stood for. He is draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Fallen Hero by M. Doris Fuller

I saw your Mother on television today.
Her face was sad as her tears flowed.
I have never met you or heard your name,
But you’re someone I wish I could know.

It seems hero’s lives may be too short,
But your death will help others be free. They say you died doing what you love
Because you love all Americans like me.

As I watch the bombs blast that desert city,
I know there are many young people like you
Who answered the call to the freedom fight?
I shall pray they not be a fallen hero too.

Your Dad’s face was unhappy and drawn,
As your casket his body was draped.
In his hands he was clutching “Old Glory,”
While praying his sorrow he couldn’t escape.

You gave everything you had to your country,
To your convictions you were forever true.
Fallen hero today you, America must honor
A soldier killed defending the RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

We have an obligation to stand up strongly in a society where freedom is taken for granted. We have a responsibility to the armed forces, to all the men and women who have lost their lives and to those that are still fighting, we need to support them. The armed forces protect our lives and the lives of our friends. We have the right to choose who we want to be in office. Along with that right comes the responsibility to be informed and educated in our opinions. We should use our freedom to vote to make sure that we elect people who care about our freedom are in office to protect us. We have a duty to that coffin draped in RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

Fear sometimes makes us lose sight of the freedoms we enjoy. Are we willing to trade some of our freedom for personal security? Is it too much to ask to open our bags when we get on an airplane so that they can check for weapons? Does it impose too much of our time? Should they check our bags when we get on the subway or a train? This does take away some of our freedom, but wouldn’t we rather be alive when we get to our final destination on that trip? Does freedom of the press mean that we should allow the media to be beside our soldiers at all times, even though it means that they are now in more danger because of it? Where is their freedom to do their jobs as they need to be done. Is our right to know more important than their safety and security? Where is the fair reporting that shows all the good things that are happening in Iraq? These are some hard questions. I personally do not believe that our soldiers should have to deal with the media every day. I am willing to give up that freedom to save their lives. In a poll taken in 2002, many Americans view some fundamental freedoms as possible obstacles to the war on terror. When President Bush addressed the nation in September, he cautioned us “freedom and fear are at war.” He noted that the terrorists targeted the United States because we embrace liberty. “The terrorists hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote, and assemble and disagree with each other,” the President said. The Iraqi’s now have some of the freedoms we enjoy. They have had several elections; they can speak their minds without worrying about being killed or having their hands cut off. Saddam Hussein is now on trial. I am sure that most of the Iraqi’s would like to take him and kill him, like he did to so many of them, but they are learning about rights and freedom. They will hold his trial and give him that right. The terrorists are so afraid of these freedoms that they kill their own people. They try to scare their own citizen’s from something that is so important to almost all Iraqi’s. They will prevail and Sgt. Cory Mracek will not have died in vain. He was so proud of the RED, WHITE, and BLUE.


The Red, White, and Blue by Jess Witherow

When I look at the flag what do I see?
The men and women who have died for me.
When I see the red,
I think of all the blood,
They have shed.
When I see the white,
I think of how hard they have to fight.
When I see the blue so bright,
I think of all the lonely nights.
When I see the flag,
I think of the freedom
Throughout this great land!

I found the Pledge of Allegiance as recited by Red Skeleton on his television show and thought it was worth repeating:
“I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it is becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word

I—me, an individual, a committee of one

Pledge—dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self-pity.

Allegiance---my love and my devotion.

To the flag---our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

United---that means that we have all come together.

States---individual communities that have united into 48 great states. Forty-eight individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose: all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

And to the republic---a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands, one nation—one nation, meaning, “so blessed by God”

Indivisible—incapable of being divided

With liberty---which is freedom—the right of power to live one’s own life without threats, fear or some sort of retaliation.

And Justice—the principal or quality of dealing fairly with others.

For all---which means boy and girls, its as much your country as it is mine.

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country
And two words have been added to the pledge of Allegiance
UNDER GOD
Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said that is a prayer and that would be eliminated from schools too?
God Bless America”

Red Skeleton was a comedian. He died many years ago, but now someone is trying to take the words under God from our schools. Wouldn’t it be a pity to lose sight of the RED, WHITE, and BLUE?

The challenges for all of us, especially in these trying times, is to truly hold in our arms and fight for the freedoms we have and to recognize that sometimes for safety we must understand that even freedom has some boundaries.

FREEDOM IS A RIGHT WE HAVE BUT FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
MY BROTHER PLUS A WHOLE LOT MOREDIED FOR YOU AND ME.

I KNOW HOW IT FEELS TO HEAR
THAT 21-GUN SALUTE
THE SOUND OF TAPS SO NEAR
THE FLAG SO NEATLY FOLDED UP


THE PURPLE HEART, THE BRONZE STAR,
THE TEARS, THE PRIDE, THE PAIN
THE 82ND AIRBORNE CAME THIS FAR
MY BROKEN HEART DRAPED IN RED, WHITE, AND BLUE.

Freedom is not free because of you, my big brother
SGT Cory Mracek
I love you and miss you!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Why I Love My Army

WILMA

It’s why I love my Army. I do, every day. Some days she’s a fickle mistress. I hate her sometimes. I still love her despite that. She will use you to fulfill her mission, all day, every day, every month and every year until you retire or you die in your country's service. But you should have known that coming in. And I love her still. The Army has taught me about all kinds of assorted and asymmetric things. I want to lay a few of those things out for you today. This isn’t a complete list and you should feel free to add you own in the comments.

But these are the things that have kept me going for 19 years and probably keep me going for a few more years at the very least.

It has taught me:

How to get along with anybody, in all circumstances and sometimes great stress. Even and perhaps, especially when they are assholes.

That sometimes just doing your job means pissing people off.

The best leadership technique in the Army today is the “just wandering around” theory. Getting out and seeing your equipment, battery and soldiers. Knowing the standards, asking questions and holding leaders accountable. Good leaders don't, can't sit in their office.

How to find the humor in any situation. If you can laugh your ass off in the frozen mud in an ice storm, wet, cold, and miserable, you can survive anything.

How to appreciate the great youth that comprise America’s armed forces. If you wanted to know what the latest incarnation of the greatest generation is, look to your soldiers. It’s them. They have the same spirit of our fathers and grandfathers in WWII and Korea. They know what freedom is worth and know that they are defending the Constitution and the freedom of the greatest nation on earth. Baggy pants and bad music notwithstanding.

How not to take youth for granted.

How to outrun at 38 an 18 year old with no conception of what heart is.

How to train that 18 year old to get and recognize heart.

How to seperate those 18 year olds and older who don't have heart and will never get it.

How it feels to show up at your 20th High School reunion in shape and fit (even after breaking an ankle on a night jump) and knowing for what your life has been lived. Knowing you did not wander through life and found yourself in a career you never envisioned at 19. Knowing you have seen and done things that most won’t or can’t understand. Knowing that you chose this life and this life chose you.

That knowing the previous does not make me smarter or a better person. It just makes me a soldier.

How to argue my position forcefully and with respect with superiors and then salute and execute legal orders I don’t necessarily agree with to the best of my ability. “Sir, I think that’s fucking stupid, and I reserve the right to tell you I told you so, but we will execute.”

That what you train on for years may not be the way you actually fight a war. After spending years training to fight a Soviet style enemy and learning how to identify and destroy Soviet style vehicles my first combat convoy was riding behind a Romanian BTR-70 (they called it an APC 77) with huge American and Romanian flags. Supported by Romanian 82mm mortars. Go figure.

That life ain’t fair. If you have any doubts about this go to just the first phase of ranger school.

That sometimes the enemy is smarter than you.

That sometimes I am smarter than the enemy.

That there is no way to tell the difference until it is too late.

That sometimes I am fighting the wrong enemy altogether and the greatest operational distracters can come from us

That life is at its best when it is at its most absurd.

That I can accomplish any given mission given a reasonable amount of like minded soldiers who want to get the job done.

That life sucks sometimes and you still got to do the job. Like on the 3rd day of an operation at 0300 without any sleep and still making it happen. It isn’t pretty and it isn’t perfect but it better than what most could do.

That being cold sucks.

That being hot sucks.

The previous things are absolutely true but not as much as being cold and wet at the same time.
That you should appreciate chow of all kinds and sleep of all kinds whenever you get the chance to get some of them.

How to sleep in any kind of military vehicle or aircraft in any situation. Even in combat.

That all you get after 65 jumps is hurt. And that life is good when you are the number one jumper.

To always carry a map and know where the hell you are.

To always have a filled radio that I know works.

That having an M4 is nice and an M9 is also nice. But it is better to have both, and an ample supply of ammunition.

That the greatest military on the face of the earth can’t deliver fresh bread and eggs without KBR.

That I would not now be as well educated (2 Masters degrees) nor as world experienced without the knowing complicity of my Army.

That few things were as nice as getting married in an Army chapel in my dress blues at Fort Campbell by a military chaplain and riding in a horse drawn carriage to the O'Club for the reception.

How to wait on line for everything. It’s what I am doing right now.

How to wait and like it.

That paperwork and email has it's place. And the paperwork gods must be appeased. And that a firm and cool knowledge of what paperwork must get routed where can expedite impossible problems.

That email does not constitute proper staff work. An action passed is not an action complete.

That incompetence you can depend on is better than technology you can’t.

To always check the batteries in my GPS, NODS, radio and M68. And take spares.

How to tell someone that he is full of shit while smiling in his face.

UPDATE:

For every action there is an equal and opposite overreaction


That’s all for now. Share your own.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

National Airborne Day

Have a jump on us!

And seriously I jumped for the first time since my broken ankle on Thursday on a sweet jump on St Mere Eglise DZ at Fort Bragg on Thursday.

CASA212 aircraft...ramp exit with a steerable MC1-1D parachute.

Nice exit and a soft landing, with a long walk in on the DZ on a humid day.

Great to be back jumping again, but my first one back was a softball pitch, but good enough for pay.

ATW

Monday, August 15, 2005

Happy Birthday to the 82nd Airborne Division

Put on your boots, boots, boots
and parachutes, chutes, chutes
We're going up, up, up
and coming down, down, down

We're All American and Proud to be
For we are soldiers of liberty
Some ride their gliders to the enemy
Others are sky paratroopers

63 years and going strong

Did a nice Division run this morning-- Longstreet filled with paratroops

Makes you proud to be an American

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Thank you from C Battery

I asked Subsunk if I could post this. He and his friends have sent packages to my old battalion in Afghanistan. 1SG Robinson kindly wrote back:

Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2005 7:53 AM
Subject: Thank You

Mark,
I want to take this opportunity to thank you, Lucinda & the gals at First State Home Loans, John and of course all the other great Texans that contributed to this package. Thank you.

Quite a few of Soldier's here are from Texas. You obviously know my name already but I'll tell you a little about myself and where we're located. I'm a First Sergeant in an Airborne Field Artillery Battery from Fort Bragg, NC. We're part of the All American 82nd Airborne Division, "America's Guard of Honor". I have 75 Soldier's in country and we are currently located at Forward Operating Base Salerno, which is in southeast Afghanistan near the town of Khowst, which is not far from the Pakistan Border.

We've been in country now for about 3 months and plan on spending another 9 months. I have some really great Soldier's that are well trained and motivated and totally understand why we are here. A large portion of my Soldiers have served here before and some, like me, have served in Iraq. My Soldier's and I really appreciate what you and many more Americans like you do for us and the support you give us. Thanks.

Please always remember that these are the sons and daughters of America and that they are doing exactly what their country asked of them, not always because they want to but because their country asked them.

Again Mark thanks for everything, it was all shared with my Soldiers and your sons and daughters. I've enclosed a couple of pictures for you.Mark please tell your brother Frosty that I wanted to email him a thank you for the package but I did not have his email address and by the time I realized it I had already burned his address on the box. (Prevents the locals from getting the addresses) Tell him Thank You and the Soldier's enjoyed the package and the movies.

Airborne, All the Way!!
1SG Robinson
C-Btry 3-319th AFAR

a Paratrooper and the Media

edited slightly for the home team

News Anchor Dan Rather and Peter Jennings, NPR Reporter Cokie Roberts and a U.S. paratrooper were hiking through the desert one day when they were captured by Iraqi insurgents. They were tied up, led to the village and brought before the leader.

The leader said, "I am familiar with your western custom of granting the condemned a last wish. Before we kill and dismember you, do you have any last requests?"

Dan Rather said, "Well, I'm a Texan; so I'd like one last bowl of hot, spicy chili."The leader nodded to an underling who left and returned with the chili. Rather ate it all and said, "Now I can die content."

Peter Jennings said "I am Canadian; so I'd like to eat some pure maple syrup on a plate of pancakes one last time". The leader nodded to a terrorist who left and then shortly returned with pure maple syrup and some pancakes. Jennings sighed and declared he could now die peacefully.

Cokie Roberts said, "I'm a reporter to the end. I want to take out my tape recorder and describe the scene here and what's about to happen. Maybe someone will hear it and know that I was on the job till the end." The leader directed an aide to hand over the tape recorder and Roberts dictated some comments. She then said, "Now I can die happy."

The leader turned and said, "And now, Mr. Yankee Pirate Paratrooper, what is your final wish?"

"Kick me in the ass," said the trooper."

"What?" asked the leader. "Will you mock us in your last hour?"

"No, I'm not kidding. I want you to kick me in the ass," insisted the airborne soldier.

So the leader shoved him into the open, and kicked him in the ass. The trooper went sprawling, but rolled to his knees, pulled a 9mm pistol from inside his DCUs, and shot the leader dead. In the resulting confusion, he leapt to his assault pack, pulled out his M4 carbine, and calmly shot the insurgents down. In a flash, they were dead or fleeing for their lives.

As the soldier was untying Rather, Jennings and Roberts, they asked him, "Why didn't you just shoot them? Why did you ask them to kick you in the ass first?

"What!?" said the trooper, "And have you three assholes call ME the aggressor?"



This one has got to be a joke. No paratrooper I know of would be alone with 3 reporters. And then untying them at the end? Sounds fishy.